Review by: Thomas Howell, New England Classical Journal - NECJ 39.4 (2012) - December 1, 2012
Caesar seems to be back in vogue these days. Consider Tatum's
bibliography, which runs four pages despite restricting itself mostly to
works written in the last twenty years. The case could be made that there
is not exactly a paucity of texts to use if you are looking to study or teach
him. In that context, what does Tatum's volume, one of Bolchazy-Carducci's
Latin Reader series, have that other readers lack? The answer, I think, is in
the unique passages in the reader and the thorough and subtle cultural and
stylistic apparatus for understanding them Tatum provides. Tatum focuses
on Caesar's "extraordinary versatility as a stylist as well as ... his significance
as a representative of his age, culture, and class" (xi), and it is true that
Tatum draws his selections from a wide variety of Caesar's writings
meant to showcase this versatility. It also means that Tatum is prioritizing
variety over theme. While many of the selections seem chosen to showcase
Caesar's use of narrative as propaganda, some, like Caesar's account of
Pompey's death, seem to stand in isolation.
Over half of the Latin Tatum selects comes from the Bellum Gallicum,
and these selections are more or less the ones that you would expect to see.
The reader begins with the celebrated Gallia est omnis divisa, then moves
into the Helvetian campaign. Tatum chooses passages here that highlight
Caesar as a propagandist and apologist, and supports this characterization
with background essays and notes that provide context for why the Romans
feared Celtic tribes and how Caesar took pains to justify his involvement.
Ariovistus is up next, followed by the Nervii's ambush of Caesar's forces
from BG 2.19-22. Tatum, stopping briefly to hear Ambiorix's speech in BG
5.27, ends his tour with ethnographies of the Celts and Germans from BG
7. Tatum's supporting materials here are especially interesting, since he
discusses not only Caesar's possible sources but also compares his account
with other ethnographies of the area, including Tacitus' Germania.
Tatum shifts his strategy for the Bellum Civile, choosing fewer but longer
passages. He begins with a pair of passages from book 1 that introduce
the complex political situation Caesar finds himself in and an explanation
to his followers of why he is in the right (BC 1.3-4, 1.7). Tatum's next two
selections reveal action in the war through the surrender at Corfinium and
Curio's rousing speech before his ultimate defeat in Africa. The last trio
of passages show Caesar's lenitas, his attempts to persuade aristocrats by
speech rather than violence, and finally the scene of Pompey's death.
What is most interesting and unusual is Tatum's inclusion of lesser
known selections of Caesar's works: two of his letters, a fragment of
the funeral oration for his aunt, and a clever poem about his opinion of
Terence as a dimidiate Menander (28). I would wager that most students first
approach Caesar through a lens formed by popular cultural images of the
man as a military genius and dictator; to see Caesar as an author of a wide
range of genres is, therefore, bound to be eye-opening. The letters reveal
Caesar as a man truly interested in lenitas and anxious about avoiding any
identification with Sulla and his policies. There is also an informal formality,
a conscious familiarity which surprises. Caesar's poem, found in Suetonius'
bibliography of Terence, is sure to delight, and it offers a rare glimpse into
his wit and his ability to condemn while praising.
Tatum devotes most of the space in the reader to commentary and
grammatical explanations. The reader's best parts are Tatum's deft
discussions of the cultural, historical, and stylistic features of each selection.
Tatum provides solid, grounded context for each reading, and does not
shy away from the subtlety and implications present there. In particular,
Tatum's comments often persuade the student to examine motive and style
in clever and interesting ways. He also gives plenty of explanations for
culturally-laden terms like officium and hospitium, or technical terms such
as rogatio, fides, or ambitus so that a student can attain a greater degree of
understanding of the point of an argument.
The intermediate students for whom the series is designed are first
beginning to think about how style and word order affect the meaning
and presentation of argument, and Tatum devotes much space to this idea.
As an example from BC 1.4, Tatum remarks about the sentence Catonem
veteres inimicitiae Caesaris incitant et dolor repulsae that "by appending this
motive after the main verb Caesar underlines its importance ... [that] it
was embarrassing for a man of Cato's pedigree and pretensions to fail to
reach the consulship." (96) Tatum even includes an appendix on prose and
oratorical rhythms, though it ultimately only references Caesar's funeral
oration fragment. Would that he had devoted time to analyzing rhythm in
other included speeches. His grammatical notes, however, are more uneven.
While Tatum will sometimes clear up items that an intermediate student
may find strange, as in Caesar 's use of the singular dividit when he has just
provided a plural subject, Matrona et Sequana, or notes discussing epistolary
tenses (151), there are far too many notes pointing out what an intermediate
student can surely notice on their own, for example, repetitious reminders
to imagine a form of esse in each of six periphrastic gerundives within a
space of four lines in BG 2.20, or page 35's note that inductus agrees with is.
Tatum's Caesar is not going to be a popular choice among secondary
school teachers, since most of what is on the Advanced Placement syllabus
is not in his reader. For an intermediate college class, however, particularly
one more interested in theme and history rather than being strictly author
centered, there is a lot here to recommend.
NECJ 39.4 (2012) Thomas J. Howell
Belchertown High School, Belchertown, Mass.
Review by: James Cox, Midwest Book Review - Library Bookwatch July 2012 - July 24, 2012
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers have long been known for their exemplary publishing lists in the field of Latin and Greek language studies curriculum materials. Of special note for the study of Latin are their four volume 'Reader' series, each of which is authored by academic experts in the language and in their ability to craft curriculum materials that are thoroughly 'student friendly'. Four volumes that should be a part of every personal, professional, and academic library Latin Studies reference collection includes: "A Caesar Reader: Selections from Bellum Gallicum and Bellum Civile, and from Caesar's Letters, Speeches, and Poetry" (9780865166967, $19.00) by W. Jeffrey Tatum, Ronnie Ancona and Laurie Haight Keenan; "A Suetonius Reader: Selections from the Lives of the Caesars and the Life of Horace" (9780865167162, $19.00) by Josiah Osgood; "A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil War" (9780865166615, $19.00) by Susanna Braund; and "A Roman Verse Satire Reader: Selections from Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal" (9780865166851, $19.00) by Catherine Keane. Drawing from classic works of antiquity, each of these four volumes are invaluable, inexpensive, and strongly recommended contributions to the growing body of Latin Language instruction materials suitable as supplemental texts for classroom use, as well as individual studies curriculums.
Review by: Sharon Kazmierski, The Classical Outlook - June 1, 2009
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Bolchazy-Carducci has recently commenced launching the first titles in its Latin Reader series, a new collection of innovative high intermediate and advanced Latin readers, specifically designed for college-level study. Under the expert guidance of series editor Ronnie Ancona, Professor of Classics at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, these small, duodecimo-sized paperbacks are intended to introduce authors and genres to students in upper division undergraduate courses. Written by recognized experts, each book will include approximately 500-600 lines of authentic Latin text, accompanied by a thorough introduction, bibliography of suggested reading, annotated commentary, and full vocabulary. There are currently two volumes available, A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil war (ISBN 978-0865166615) by Susanna Braund and A Terence Reader: Selections from Six Plays (978-0865166783) by William S. Anderson. According to the Bolchazy website, seventeen additional volumes are currently scheduled to be issued. Upcoming authors include Plautus, Sallust, Cicero, Sueconius, Tacitus, Vergil, Caesar, Martial, Apuleius, and Livy. Topics co be covered include Roman Women, Roman Verse Satire, Latin Epic, and Roman Army. Additional authors and themes are under consideration.
The inaugural volume, A Lucan Reader, is an introduction to the Silver Age epic poem (often referred to as Pharsalia) retelling the events of the Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Rarely studied by third and fourth-year college Latin students, this reader provides the opportunity for advanced undergraduates to sample some difficult but fascinating Latin. Following a detailed and compelling introduction, Braund has selected high interest passages: the causes of the Civil war, Caesar at the Rubicon, the abandonment of Rome, the necromancy of Erichtho, Pompey's visitation by Julia's ghost, and Caesar in Troy. I have never read Lucan, bur now find myself intrigued.
The second volume, A Terence Reader, released just this summer, is an introduction to Roman Comedy. Following a consistent format, Anderson's introduction provides essential background for students and a brief history of Roman Comedy. He then proceeds to explain what made Terence's plays unique, original and thought-provoking. Selections in this volume include excerpts from Andria, Heauton, Phormia, Hecyra, Eunuchus, and Adelphoe, followed by commentary to put the passages in context and provide grammatical assistance. There is also a helpful appendix, with information regarding comic meters. Fans of comedy will be happy to know that the next volume in the series, to be released later this year, will be A Plautus Reader: Selections from Eleven Plays (ISBN 978- 0-86516-694-2) by John Henderson.
Given the size of these short readers, teachers and professors should find them useful when customizing a course. Professor Ancona notes that they are ideal for use in combination. I observe that they are inexpensive ($19.95) compared to many college textbooks. Instructors can feel free to mix and match authors and themes to suit their curriculum without causing too much damage to their students' bank accounts. Motivated readers of Latin can sample new authors and themes with expert guidance. Secondary school teachers may even wish to challenge their skilled Advanced Placement students after completing the exam, using some of these selections as a follow-up to the anticipated Caesar/Vergil syllabus.
To discover more about this intriguing new collection, visit the BC Latin Readers website at http://www.bolchazy. com/readers/ where you can find out more about what will be included in each volume as well as read a short biography of each series author. To see Bolchazy's complete catalog, visit the main website at http://www.bolchazy.com. Questions may be directed to their customer service at email@example.com. You may also write their headquarters at Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, Tel, (800) 392- 6453, Fax: (847) 526-2867.
The Clearing House, Classical Outlook Fall 2009