Italian H.S. graduation exam includes Seneca in Latin

The "maturità" exams (state exams) have been underway for 18-19 year olds graduating from the liceo (more or less high-school).  In the interdisciplinary exams for the Liceo Classico, the kids had a piece of Seneca from De beneficiis 6.3 to translate:

Egregie mihi videtur M. Antonius apud Rabirium poetam, cum fortunam suam transeuntem alio videat et sibi nihil relictum praeter ius mortis, id quoque, si cito occupaverit, exclamare: “Hoc habeo, quodcumque dedi”. O quantum habere potuit, si voluisset! Hae sunt divitiae certae in quacumque sortis humanae levitate uno loco permansurae; quae cum maiores fuerint, hoc minorem habebunt invidiam. Quid tamquam tuo parcis? procurator es. Omnia ista, quae vos tumidos et supra humana elatos oblivisci cogunt vestrae fragilitatis, quae ferreis claustris custoditis armati, quae ex alieno sanguine rapta vestro defenditis, propter quae classes cruentaturas maria deducitis, propter quae quassatis urbes ignari, quantum telorum in aversos fortuna conparet, propter quae ruptis totiens adfinitatis, amicitiae, conlegii foederibus inter contendentes duos terrarum orbis elisus est, non sunt vestra; in depositi causa sunt iam iamque ad alium dominum spectantia; aut hostis illa aut hostilis animi successor invadet. Quaeris, quomodo illa tua facias? dona dando. Consule igitur rebus tuis et certam tibi earum atque inexpugnabilem possessionem para honestiores illas, non solum tutiores facturus. Istud, quod suspicis, quo te divitem ac potentem putas, quam diu possides, sub nomine sordido iacet: domus est, servus est, nummi sunt; cum donasti, beneficium est.

I know a lot of seminarians and graduate school level priests in theology or law who would not have a clue how to approach this text.

 

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Italian H.S. graduation exam includes Seneca in Latin

  1. Francis says:

    “I know a lot of seminarians and graduate school level priests in theology or law who would not have a clue how to approach this text.”

    Well, then, maybe you should broaden your circle of friends.

  2. Cerimoniere says:

    Ouch. Father didn’t say that he didn’t know priests and seminarians who could translate Seneca; just that he knew many who couldn’t. I can’t imagine that any of us could claim a circle of friends who are all competent classicists these days.

  3. RBrown says:

    The secretary to the Dean of Theology at the Angelicum is a woman who attended un liceo classico. She reads Latin better than 90% (a conservative estimate) of the priests and seminarians who are studying there.

    But the problems are not limited to Latin.

    I lived at the Convitto San Tommaso almost eight years, and we had priests from all over the world–at times 18 different nationalities. I left with two impressions:

    First, most were good men who had entered seminary with the right intentions.

    Second, the priesthood is the most poorly trained group of professionals I have ever seen. Not only did they have little idea of theology and liturgy (other than show biz), they were seriously deficient in catechetics.

  4. Matthaei says:


    The secretary to the Dean of Theology at the Angelicum is a woman who attended un liceo classico. She reads Latin better than 90% (a conservative estimate) of the priests and seminarians who are studying there.

    But the problems are not limited to Latin.

    I lived at the Convitto San Tommaso almost eight years, and we had priests from all over the world—at times 18 different nationalities. I left with two impressions:

    First, most were good men who had entered seminary with the right intentions.

    Second, the priesthood is the most poorly trained group of professionals I have ever seen. Not only did they have little idea of theology and liturgy (other than show biz), they were seriously deficient in catechetics.
    Comment by RBrown — 22 June 2007 @ 6:36 am

    Something must be done about this deplorable situation. It most certainly did not used to be like this. Something you may not like to hear is, that the same analysis cannot be truthfully made regarding the SSPX seminarians and priests. Something to think about, no?

  5. Julie says:

    This is quite impressive! Is this a public or private school in Rome? Wish we had something like that here. Here, highschool graduates from even the best schools are lucky if they can even read English.

    As for the comment by Matthaei about the excellent training of the SSPX priests, I’m no expert, but it seems to me that any seminary education that leaves out the post-Vatican II
    encyclicals, especially those of Pope John Paul II, as the SSPX does, I believe,is deficient.

    Despite all the problems in the Church the last forty years, there were some wonderful contibutions made by Pope JP II in the fields of theology and morality that would be a tragedy to ignore. I am thinking particularly of his beautiful insights on marriage. I don’t care what anyone says, the pre-Vatican II mentality of marriage, especially the treatment
    of women (as I have learned first hand from several SSPX lay people) is a little hard to take.

  6. Matthaei: Something you may not like to hear is, that the same analysis cannot be truthfully made regarding the SSPX seminarians and priests.

    B – as in B, S – as in S.

    I don’t buy that.

  7. Fr. Bartoloma says:

    Wow! I thought that was just some fancy Spanish.

    just kidding :)

  8. Fabrizio says:

    that the same analysis cannot be truthfully made regarding the SSPX seminarians and priests

    Matthaei

    You sure? Because I have met quite a few of them who could certainly celebrate in Latin, but I am not so sure they could translate Seneca. Most important, their ignorance of Magisterium was appalling and their theology was Gallican at best. Even their knowledge of documents by Popes they would consider Catholic enough was generally VERY selective. Now what’s the point in being able to say countless confiteors in Latin at Mass, if we have decided we are better popes than the Pope himself? I am sure there are well intentioned and learned men among them, but many simply aren’t so amazingly superior to the many humble priests who serve the Church in full communion with Peter and stand up to the neo-modernist arrogance by simply trying to save souls in real life as they’re able, more than to make angry statements.

    Latin – and the culture it implies and conveys – is necessary, no, vital to a priest, but sentire cum Ecclesia comes first, and I haven’t heard much of a Roman weltanschauung – in every sense – coming from Econe in a while

    Si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum…

  9. RBrown says:

    This is quite impressive! Is this a public or private school in Rome? Wish we had something like that here. Here, high school graduates from even the best schools are lucky if they can even read English.

    Re Liceo Classico: They are public schools, and I think something like 35-40% of all Italians attend them. If I remember correctly, students get 4-6 years Latin and Greek, History of Philosophy, Roman History, and Greek History.

  10. Londiniensis says:

    I am of an age where taking Latin “O” Level (15+ public examination) was the norm, at least in my school, and taking a Latin paper was compulsory for my university entrance examination. The standard of the “unseens” in both examinations was probably at the level of the Seneca. However, it all began unravelling in my generation – my sister, younger by five years, could get by, including getting an MA from a good university, with no Latin at all.

    So much for the English education system – corruptio optimi pessima.

  11. danphunter1 says:

    Father,
    I know an SSPX priest who trained a group of 10-16 year olds to read Seneca so that they could perform the first act of Octavia.
    They performed it in English first,and then all over again in Latin.
    I was very impressed.
    God bless you

  12. Andrew says:

    Friends:

    I am looking at this from a completely different perspective. First, here is my attempt at translating this not at all easy text:

    “I find it really well presented how Antonius in Rabirius’ poem, as he sees his perishable fortune in another’s hands, and only the right to die reserved to himself, and even that only if he should grab it quickly, exclaim: “this much I’ve got, whatever I gave”. Oh how much he might have had, if he had wanted to! These are the only sure riches that can remain in one place amid the fleeting human fortunes; which the greater they might have been, that much the smaller jealousy they generate. Why do you hold on to things as if they were yours? You are a caretaker. All these, that make you inflate with pride and raised above human realities forget your frailty, that you guard with metal bars, that you defend with your blood, snatched by the price of someone else’s blood, on account of which you send out warships to deliver death blows, on account of which you level cities, ignorant of how many arrows will fortune return to you, on account of which – having broken so many times your treaties of union, of friendship, of fraternity – amid strife between two the entire world is torn asunder, all these are not yours; they were loaned to you and now they are about to see another owner; either an enemy or a hostile successor will invade them. Do you ask how to make them your own? By giving them as gifts. Take counsel therefore over your things and prepare yourself a certain and inalienable possession, making them non only safer but also more honest. This, that you see, that you think enriches you and makes you powerful, as long as you own it, it is retained under common names such as “house, servants, money”. Give it away and all of it will become a benefit.”

    Sure, this is a very noble text, but I have to wonder why would anyone use it in a final exam? Are they trying to convince every student that “Latin is really hard?” Give me a break! Look at this translation: that’s a tough cookie, isn’t it? There are many ways to contribute to the demise of Latin, and one way is to make it sooooo scholarly, that it is beyond the reach of an average person. When I hear “classical” and “classics” – I panic. Whatever is left of Latin, whatever is not dead, if it is still breathing a little after much neglect, the classicists will surely finish off. There is no better way to harm the study of Latin than to make it almost inaccessible. Folks, this is a language that can be spoken and readily learned but certainly not by deciphering complex texts. We must return to an era prior to the renaissance, when Latin was spoken, not worshiped.

  13. Ben D. says:

    Andrew,

    but I have to wonder why would anyone use it in a final exam?

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect someone who’s fresh from studying classical Latin for 4-6 years to be able to take a good crack at that passage. What better place for something like that than on a final exam, after all? A final should (a) provide some measure of your grasp of the material, and (b) crush you. This passage serves both purposes nicely.

  14. Not wanting to be a laudator temporis acti, but when I was in a public high school in New York in 1970, the State Latin Regents exam (given in sophomore year) included sight reading of a passage of Caesar about 2/3 the length of that Senaca. Admittedly, the Senaca is harder, but we were not graduating seniors, but it was not a joke either. I remember it well, it was a passage from the De Bello Civico, not the Bello Gallico that we had done in class. Deo adiuvante I passed, but it was not a stellar performance . . .

    I wonder what the Latin Regents is like now, or if it still exists.

  15. Maureen says:

    At this point, all the science and engineering people will begin to share the experience of _their_ final exams, in which one does well to get 25% of the questions correct — or done, even! :)

    Most of us in the humanities never get hard final exams. The SATs weren’t particularly challenging, but they were way harder than all but one final I ever took. I think it’s sad. All we can do is read Harry Potter and dream. :)

  16. RBrown says:

    Sure, this is a very noble text, but I have to wonder why would anyone use it in a final exam? Are they trying to convince every student that “Latin is really hard?” Give me a break! Look at this translation: that’s a tough cookie, isn’t it?

    Maybe it’s harder for an American than it is for an Italian.

  17. Breier says:

    Italian is very similar and descended from Latin, so it’s no surprise Italians would find it easier to pick up. Many of the vocabulary words would be grasped from their knowledge of Italian.

  18. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    This Seneca passage, like almost all Seneca, is not difficult in the relative sense. Some passages from the Naturales Quaestionae are difficult, but overall Seneca is a lowball sort of exam author.

    Unfortunately, the problem in some places isn’t whether or not Latin is studied, but how well it is studied. I constantly see students who have had to suffer through years of Latin in secondary school who, in fine, can’t translate their way out of a bag.

    But this passage is eminently fair. It’s lucid and straightforward.

  19. Andrew says:

    Dr. Lee:

    “I constantly see students who have had to suffer through years of Latin in secondary school who, in fine, can’t translate their way out of a bag.”

    I say, why translate at all? What is accomplished by translating? Do they not teach English to the English and Italian to the Italians? So why not Latin to those who study Latin? Translation should not be part of teaching any language. It is an obstruction to the study of language. The object is to understand Latin in Latin. Give them questions in Latin and let them answer in Latin. I can teach how to ride a bicycle and how to ride a horse, but no one can ride a horse and a bicycle at the same time. When we deal with Latin, why not exclude other languages? Why translate? I don’t get it.

  20. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Because “Latin” isn’t a monolithic, single language. Ask any classics major what it’s like to shift from a semester reading Cicero to a semester reading Tacitus. Or to move from Virgil to Lucan. The fact is, we are woefully ignorant of much Latin. We don’t know half of what was going on in what we might call “conversational” Latin in, say, Cicero’s day. We don’t know for sure how it was pronounced. We have meager evidence from some few authors who preserve conversational Latin.

    Nobody on the planet, for this reason, is “fluent” in Latin. You can become proficient in a highly stylized version of the so-called spoken language. You can write elegantly. But the science of prose composition (which I teach regularly) is imitation of greats…simply because the science of classical philology must be based on observation of what native speakers did.

    Incidentally, there have been attempts to teach Latin the way the modern languages are typically learned. The majority of students who try that are never quite that comfortable reading the actual texts of the classics. The “grammar-translation” method has its flaws, but it does lead to proficiency in reading. The biggest problems with it come from those students who delight in accusing Latin authors of “breaking” grammar rules.

    Mind you, when I read Tacitus, or Livy, I don’t “translate” in my head. I know Latin well enough that I can read it in a way that approximates the reading of a native language. But let’s not pretend that a Latin-only classroom will get people to that stage. Because the answer to those who advocate “oral” Latin is: which Latin, exactly?

  21. Austin says:

    I will second the above comment. In class, we spent quite a bit of time first semester doing Caesar and then moved to Catullus. Second semester, we covered the Aeneid. Between each author there is defenitely a transition period while you get used to their style.

    One of my friends told me that she took the State Regents exam for Latin. Latin for her was not mandatory though.

  22. Austin says:

    I will second the above comment. In class, we spent quite a bit of time first semester doing Caesar and then moved to Catullus. Second semester, we covered the Aeneid. Between each author there is defenitely a transition period while you get used to their style.

    One of my friends told me that she took the State Regents exam for Latin. Latin for her was not mandatory though.

  23. Andrew says:

    Each individual can be identified by his linguistic style, just as by his own fingerprints. That’s no surprise. But this is where I differ with the officially held position of the teaching establishment of “classics”. I don’t think we need to reach back 2000 years in an attempt to revive an ancient language by way of imitation. The study of Latin should not be akin to the study of archeology where we dig up some ancient artifacts and we don’t use them, we just put them up on display. Instead, we, Catholics, laity and especially the clergy should embrace that never interrupted tradition whereby Latin never ceased to be used in the Church, and I don’t say studied, but used, very much as a spoken means of communication. We should assimilate Latin and make it our own and use it. And that is not an impossible task. Look what happened to Hebrew, which now, contrary to many “learned” arguments and predictions was revived in less than a century. The biggest problem with Latin is that those in charge of reviving it are saying: “impossible”.

  24. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Fine, revive “it”. Just as long as you realize that what you revive will be an artificial construct, to a greater or lesser extent. That’s simply how it is. It’s not some vast classicist conspiracy.

  25. Andrew says:

    I don’t need to revive Cicero’s language. I just need to learn the Church’s language which does not need to be revived. It only needs to be awakened.

  26. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Unfortunately, the problem with your idea is given away by your reference to the Seneca passage as somewhat difficult, hard, or challenging. It’s not. It’s quite lowball as Latin passages go.

    “The Church’s language” is also a problematic phrase. Did you know that scholars can actually determine (sometimes quite specifically) when a prayer was composed for the liturgy based on its style, vocabulary…sometimes even word order?

    I have edited Medieval texts, and studied Medieval glosses of churchmen on classical texts. I have great respect for the Middle Ages. But I also know that plenty of errors entered the classical textual tradition during the Middle Ages, because of churchmen-editors who, frankly, introduced the errors into their manuscript copies because of the occasional fault or deficiency in their Latin.

    If you have a firm grounding in the classics, you can approach any Latin. It doesn’t work the other way around. A firm education in ecclesiastical or Medieval Latin will not prove an easy door to classical Latin. Some would say, who cares? I worry about Anselm, not Livy. But without the classical foundation…you’re building a house with no storm cellar. No base.

    Yes, it’s “harder”. Such is life. But it’s more valuable in the long run to know how to read the authors the Christian greats were steeped in (both Latin and Greek) than it is to ask your brother to pass the salt in some stylized, artificially constructed “Latin”.

  27. Raphaela says:

    Dr. Lee Fratantuono wrote:

    “Because “Latin” isn’t a monolithic, single language. Ask any classics major what it’s like to shift from a semester reading Cicero to a semester reading Tacitus. Or to move from Virgil to Lucan.”

    I don’t understand why this is an argument in favour of translating Latin, because no language is monolithic. Shakespeare isn’t the same as Shelley or Keats, and Goethe isn’t the same as Rilke. That doesn’t mean students of English or German don’t engage with the language of each author on its own terms rather than translating them in order to make sense of them. Based on my own experiences while earning an Honours degree in Latin, I would be more inclined to argue that the shifts between the different authors would become less difficult if one weren’t forced to translate rather than read. Because translating is not reading, and taking a sentence in language A and putting it into language B in such a way as to achieve a result that reads reasonably fluently, preserves all the sense of the original, and also shows the examiner that you really have correctly understood all the grammatical quirks of the original adds a whole extra level of difficulty to the exercise while, unfortunately, diverting a regrettably large portion of your attention to the target language that might be better spent on engaging with the source language. (I use general terms here because the translation problem isn’t unique to Latin. Though it does seem to be only the classical languages that insist on this rather artificial sort of didactic mechanism.)

  28. RBrown says:

    I don’t understand why this is an argument in favour of translating Latin, because no language is monolithic. Shakespeare isn’t the same as Shelley or Keats, and Goethe isn’t the same as Rilke.

    Excellent point. We don’t know how 19th cent Americans spoke although we can read the texts of Jefferson, Madison, et al.

    And language varies. In the deep South “coke” and “co-cola” don’t mean the same thing. “Coke” usually refers to any soft drink–”soda” in the East, “pop” in the Midwest. “Co-cola” refers to Coca cola.

  29. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    I’m not being read closely.

    A false dichotomy is being set up. Apparently you either advocate translating Latin, or you advocating immersing yourself in Latin and learning some way to speak it, write it, and, presumably, read it.

    Well, if this dichotomy is correct, some interesting data might emerge.

    In my experience, the people who study Latin by the so-called grammar-translation model end up including a good number of people who arrive at a point of real proficiency in reading Latin.

    Among those who attempt to treat Latin as a “living language” and mimic the process by which we learned English (or whatever our native language happens to be), in my experience, some few do indeed get to a point where they can read their Tacitus. The majority…nope.

    That’s because the Roman writers of different periods created a literary language that was never actually spoken. Cicero’s speeches are not composed in a Latin that was ever the language of the Roman street. It’s a highly stylized Latin that can be seen (with differences major and minor) in different periods and different authors.

    I noted that when I read Latin, I don’t “translate”. I can read it more or less as I read English. Several of my students have reported the same eventual facility, after years of study.

    But you won’t understand the structure of this language, or the nuances of syntax, or the complexity of a Lucan or a Lucretius, by saying “Salve, magister. Quid agis?”

    We’re tried different pedagogies in Latin over the years. Some were colossal flops. And, as in any discipline, some people end up becoming very good at it, and others less so.

    And, in the end, much depends on what you want to get out of your Latin. Not everyone needs to be able to read Tacitus’ Annals.

  30. Andrew says:

    Dr. Lee Fratantuono:

    Once again you are saying something about Latin that could be applied to any language: When a professor delivers a speech on some occasion at a famous university he does not use the same language as when he talks to his wife and children at dinner. Are we then ready to say, on the basis of some speech, that English is an artificial construct that is not spoken by anyone at all? English spoken at a bar is the same English used by a Nobel price winner at the academy. Cicero’s letters have a different ‘flavor’ from his speeches. That’s only natural. But why narrow down the definition of “Latin” to a handful of “approved” authors, and exclude even some of their own works because they don’t suit our idea of what fits some preconceived definition of proper Latin. Perhaps we aught to read a little more Noam Chomsky?

  31. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    I’m not excluding any Latin author, or any Latin author’s works (though I might note, Cicero’s letters are also written in a style that does not approximate the actual Latin of the forum…they too are literary constructs, sui generis).

    I’m not excluding any author or work…I am excluding fantasy and pedagogical disasters.

    As for what constitutes “proper Latin”, that’s a vastly complicated question. But the Romans themselves had plenty of opinions on it.

    The disturbing element in your posts on Latin has been the idea that the Seneca passage given is somehow inappropriately difficult for Latin students to be expected to translate. It’s not; it’s quite straightforward and typical of Senecan prose, which is not challenging (by and large…I exclude certain passages from the Natural Questions that can be a headache for scientific reasons).

    In fact, contrary to your first post’s assertions, I would indeed give this passage on a final exam. If I wanted to “prove that Latin is really really hard”, I’d have plenty of other passages to offer…

  32. Raphaela says:

    “A false dichotomy is being set up. Apparently you either advocate translating Latin, or you advocating immersing yourself in Latin and learning some way to speak it, write it, and, presumably, read it.”

    I don’t believe I said anything about speaking Latin. It’s just as false a dichotomy to set up pure translation and total immersion including speaking as the only possible alternatives in Latin pedagogy. My main point, for the purpose of this discussion, is that I have yet to see any credible evidence that translating texts is the most efficient way to learn a language — any language. In my view, all it does is add an extra layer of complexity that makes the exercise needlessly time-consuming and needlessly difficult, and may well be partly responsible for the unpopularity of the subject with students. This doesn’t mean that the only alternative to translating Tacitus would be speaking Latin in the classroom, but that there ought to be some other mechanism for verifying that the student understands the Latin text than by getting him to translate it.

    I realise, of course, that anything other than correcting a straight translation — be it comprehension questions or whatever — would make more work for the teacher. But it might make the subject more rewarding and more accessible (without dumbing it down, I might add) for students, and in a time when the classics are having a hard time recruiting young people into their programmes, that might be a point worth considering.

    “Among those who attempt to treat Latin as a “living language” and mimic the process by which we learned English (or whatever our native language happens to be), in my experience, some few do indeed get to a point where they can read their Tacitus. The majority…nope.

    That’s because the Roman writers of different periods created a literary language that was never actually spoken. Cicero’s speeches are not composed in a Latin that was ever the language of the Roman street.”

    But the language of Shakespeare and Goethe wasn’t the language of the street either, and we don’t seem to be less qualified to read them — and fluently, too — just because we can greet our teachers, or say “pass the salt” in English or German respectively. Also, while Cicero’s speeches were not written in the language of the street, they were delivered, orally, in the form that we have them (with the possible exception, if I remember correctly, of the Pro Milone), and listeners had the aural comprehension skills to understand them despite the fact that they could also say “pass the salt” in Latin, and very probably didn’t speak in 500-word complex periods in the course of their everyday dealings. I don’t see why it should be any different for us.

  33. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Because we’re not native speakers of the language, and because we don’t have the knowledge of the language that the native speakers of ancient Rome did.

    There are actually words in Latin whose exact meaning is rather uncertain. That’s never the case with words in a modern foreign language. While we can reproduce nineteenth century English dialogue/conversational speech, we can’t reproduce much of what conversational Latin was like in Cicero’s day. Nor can we know for certain why there are apparent grammatical and syntactical anomalies in some of the classical writers. The missing pieces just aren’t there. This is part of the fascination and frustration of textual criticism.

    In the end, as someone who has seen and taught the products of every imaginable pedagogical system for learning Latin, some people from every method seem to do just fine. Many others, no. Latin isn’t easy. It’s far more difficult to master than French, or German, or Spanish…or even ancient Greek (once you get to the higher levels).

    Part of the problem is that Latin’s vocabulary is so incredibly meager (relatively speaking) – a problem Lucretius himself laments – that we are far more dependent on idiomatic uses of common words than we might otherwise be. Even in Varro’s day, some people needed reminders of the difference between agere, facere, and gerere – and not just schoolboys. The Latin language has a far more complex history than English, for that matter (because it’s so much older and so less well understood, again relatively speaking).

    As for classics enrollments, while some places are indeed in the doldrums, others have little trouble recruiting healthy enrollments. That has less to do with pedagogy, in the end, than a host of other factors.

  34. jaykay says:

    Getting back to the piece of Latin presented, the Seneca, I’m wondering if in the actual exam this featured as an “unseen” text or whether it’s an extract from a set text that they had been studying? If it was unseen, I’d say it was medium-to-hard on a scale of difficulty. If they had been studying the text all year then there shouldn’t have been any problems really.

    It’s 24 years since I took my final degree – which included Latin – and 30 since I left school having had 6 years of Latin, and I’m happy to day I can still make my way through most of it.

    As an aside, although relating to some points made above, one of our school-leaving textbooks was a delight. It featured authors from Caesar through Augustine to early-mediaeval, and had examples of Sequences like the Dies Irae but also a secular parody sequence called, if I recall, “Vinum bonum in sapora” (bibit Abbas cum Priora). The purpose was to demonstrate how Latin changed – I remember distinctly there was an explanation of how the ablative absolute construction had largely been dropped from around the 3rd/4th century, by the time of St. Jerome, and it had the opening chapters of St. Luke from the Vulgate to show how much “easier” these were than say Cicero or Livy.

    This lovely book was published around 1970 so was still quite modern when we were using it (I did the school-leaving exam in ’77).

    It was authored by James J Carey, published by Folens of Ireland and was called, most appropriately, “Vox Romana”. In the school-leaving exams just finished here I think the number of kids taking Latin would have been in the tens, if even that. Nec et pessumi exempli et nostri saeculi est. Although of course I’m not so sure that I would have thought it “lovely” back in the day, but middle-aged hindsight is wonderful. I’m sure Cicero probably said the
    same thing – only much better :) jaykay