Last night I dreamed I was in a high school Latin class. The first part of why this dream was crazy was that the class was full (like with 20-30 people). The less crazy part was that the class was being taught by Derek Jacobi, who, judging by his outfit, was reprising his role as Father Cadfael for the purposes of this dream. I showed up late on test day, and no one was there. Cadfael told me not to worry, that most of the class was taking a different test (because they’d apparently combined multiple classes), so I’d be fine, since I was taking my test later. This still wasn’t any real reassurance, because my Latin is awful (as reading Name of the Rose reminded me), and I felt really bad because I knew that I’d be letting Derek Jacobi/Father Cadfael down!
I actually made A’s in my Latin classes back in school, but I’ve gotten very rusty in the 12 years since. The transition from Jr High & reading/learning from the Cabridge Latin readers to high school, plunging headlong into the old red-bound Aeneid, was too much of a radical shift for me to keep up (combined with the teacher retiring a week before school started and having no instruction other than ‘translate’) Somewhere along the way, the 4 of us broke into a box full of 1st ed copies of ‘The Student’s Catullus’, which we stole and read instead, since it was, by and large, sex and toilet jokes with a sketch of a Roman lady wearing a see-thru dress on the cover. We also grabbed copies of a very nice hardbound complete Odes & Epodes of Horace.
But thinking back, man those Cambridge Latin readers were great! And pretty dark. Volume 1 followed the comic misadventures of a family in Pompeii, starting with the family cook stealing food and being drunk on the job and ending with everyone dying in the fiery hell of Vesuvius’ wrath. One lucky slave, Clemens, I believe, escaped, where, in volume 2, he joins the cult of Isis, and the son of book 1’s protagonist ends up in Londinium and meeting with the near mythic king Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus. I wonder how hard it would be to find any of those? I’d love to actually brush up on my Latin a bit!