Review: Classical Outlook Spring 2012 - March 1, 2013
VENIT! VIDIT! VICIT!
He came, he saw, he conquered! All hail Caesar! The 2012–13 school year is now in full swing and the new Advanced Placement Latin syllabus is now a reality! With the Roman general's return, Latin teachers face the monumental endeavor of selecting updated textbooks and ancillary materials. The entire last column of the Clearing House was devoted to the new Caesar curriculum, bur I ran out of room before I was able to tell you about all the new books and materials that have been recently published. This column will pick up where the last one left off.
CAESAR: SELECTIONS FROM HIS COMMENTARII DE BELLO GALLICO
Written by the award-winning William D. Williams Professor and Chair of Classics at Union College Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Caesar: Selections from His Commentarii De Bello Gallico includes the complete unadapted Latin text from Books I, IV, V, and VI required for mastery on the updated Advanced Placement syllabus, accompanied by translations of the passages students are expected to familiarize themselves with in English. Opening with a short biography of Caesar, Mueller sets the historical figure in the political, military, and literary context of his times, along with a brief outline of the Gallic War, before commencing with the Latin text itself.
Designed intentionally to assist students in developing efficient reading skills, Mueller's reader is modeled closely after Pharr's venerable "Purple Aeneid' and employs a system of "visible vocabulary" intended to render it unnecessary to turn a page to ascertain the meaning of an unknown word. Each page includes a limited amount of Latin from the Commentaries, usually five to eight lines. Frequently used vocabulary words meant robe learned over rime by exposure are italicized and printed on an extensible, pull-our sheer folded in at the back of the book. The meanings of the non-italicized words are provided in a same-page running vocabulary, followed by syntactical notes and commentary, keyed by line. Mueller succeeds admirably at adapting and improving upon Pharr's method, which is occasionally criticized for providing too much help. However, it should be remembered that Mueller's book is designed as a type of transitional text for students embarking upon unadapted, advanced reading for the first time. The "visible vocabulary" system is intended to allow the student to memorize vocabulary unconsciously, over time, and to direct full attention co the reading material, rather than co a stack of dictionaries. The classroom teacher will have to decide if Mueller's Caesar is the right choice for his or her program. As someone who used Pharr's Aeneid as a student, I can tell you that his method was particularly helpful co me as the advanced Latin course at my secondary school was essentially an independent study. We met once a week with our teacher co read and translate. The rest of the rime we were on our own to work through the material. The "visible vocabulary" system helped us increase our vocabulary through constant repetition and the annotations helped us work through difficult passages we might otherwise have given up on in utter frustration. Therefore, I believe chat chis book is particularly suitable for pupils who will be working on their own or in multilevel situations, as the class works cowards greater independence in their reading skills. For chose teachers and professors who would prefer their students to read Caesar unaided during classroom sessions, a plain version of the Latin passages minus vocabulary and annotations is provided for sight reading.
The English version of Books I, VI, and VII supplied by Mueller is revised for modern students from W A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn's 1869 literal translation of Caesar's Commentaries, originally published as part of Harper's Classical Library. Portions from these books that students are expected to read in Latin are merely summarized so that, especially during class time, students are not tempted to use the English translation as prompt for their own work. However, there is no escaping the fact that various editions of McDevitte and Bohn's complete translation are freely available online from a wide variety of sources-along with many other literal, and even interlinear, English renderings of Caesar. This, I think, is an excellent argument for annotated editions that encourage and support students to read and translate original Latin on their own!
Additional features of Mueller's reader include a select bibliography, an appendix of figures of speech, both grammatical and rhetorical (based upon a list by Francis Willey Kelsey in his 1918 work C. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii Rerum Gestarum), along with black and white photographic illustrations and new grayscale maps created especially for this edition. A complete Latin-English glossary is provided in the back, marking with daggers the words that appear italicized in the text and contained on the extensible frequency list. Provided online for download at the Bolchazy-Carducci website (http:l!www.bolchazy.com) is a grammatical appendix, which students may choose to print our or keep handy for reference on their tablet or laptop, as well as an electronic copy of the pull-out vocabulary list.
Review by: Randall Nichols, Classical Outlook Winter 2012 - Westminster Schools of Augusta, Georgia - August 1, 2012
Teachers and students who like the model Clyde Pharr developed in Vergils Aeneid: Books I-VI will be delighted with this excellent textbook following Pharr's format (viii). Mueller's book includes all the Latin and English readings for the Caesar portion of the new AP Latin syllabus effective for the fall of2012.
Each page with Latin text is divided into three parts: the Latin text at the top, an alphabetically arranged vocabulary below the text, and then running commentary at the bottom. High frequency vocabulary is italicized and can be found on an extensible vocabulary sheer in the back of the book- similar to Pharr's extensible sheet but more useful because of its greater detail and inclusion of idioms. The words not italicized are given in the vocabulary list below the text. When students unfold the extensible sheet and open the book to any passage of Latin text, they will have in front of them all the vocabulary they need to translate the passage. A complete Latin-to-English glossary is also included.
The notes at the bottom of the page mark the greatest improvement over Pharr's work. Mueller has the eye of an experienced and masterful teacher who anticipates where students will run afoul of Caesar's syntax. Intermediate students will learn a great deal of grammar from the notes alone as Mueller carefully leads them, for example, through extended passages of indirect statement. The notes go beyond grammatical explanations to provide a useful commentary on Gallic and Roman customs, people in the story, and elements of Caesar's style and objectives, particularly his tendency to take credit for successes and to assign blame to others for failures. The notes refer the reader to an 84-page grammatical appendix that is not included in the textbook but is available on the publisher's website. Mueller's text also contains a select bibliography, an appendix for figures of speech, and helpful introductory chapters on Julius Caesar (as a politician, general, and author), the organization of Caesar's army, and an overview of the Gallic War.
There are two additional features not found in Pharr. Mueller's book has a clean text of all the Latin readings so that students can test their ability to read Latin without any aids in front of them. All of the English readings for the Caesar portion of the new AP Latin Exam (Books 1, 6, and 7) are conveniently included in Mueller's book, with a short but descriptive title given for each chapter. The translations are from W A. McDevitte and W S. Bohn, Caesar's Commentaries (New York: Harper's Classical Library, 1869). The chapters from Books 1 and 6 that have been read in Latin are briefly summarized but not translated in the English section of the textbook; students will not be tempted to use the English translation to help them through the Latin.
A teacher perusing Mueller's text may wonder if Clyde Pharr's model, developed almost a century ago, is the best to follow for a Latin textbook today. Pharr's format does aid the task of translation by alleviating the tedium of looking up words, but is it lively and engaging enough to capture the imagination of today's teenagers reading Caesar? Some recent Latin readers (e.g., Love and Betrayal: A Catullus Reader, by Bruce Arnold, Andrew Aronson, and Gilbert Lawall) include questions for class discussions, passages from parallel literature for comparison, key quotations from scholarship, and other aids for teaching.
Mueller's forthcoming Teacher's Guide contains teaching aids not found in the student text. The Teacher's Guide divides the Latin text into small units (3-8 lines at a time), followed by both Mueller's literal translation and the freer translation of McDevirre. Each unit contains questions for discussion that rest reading comprehension and call for critical thinking. There are questions that relate the Caesar readings to those from Vergil; teachers will find these especially useful. The passage-oriented nature of many of these questions will help prepare students for the passage-based questions on the AP Latin free response section. In addition, the Teacher's Guide includes an introduction, a bibliography, and a clean Latin text (without macrons) for classroom projection.
The free response portion of the new AP Latin Exam will include sections on translation and short answers for both Caesar and Vergil. There will also be an essay based on two Latin passages: one passage could be from Caesar and one from Vergil, or both passages could be from the same author. Mueller's text offers outstanding preparation for the translation and for many of the types of short answers that could be asked. The forthcoming Teacher's Guide provides excellent questions for class discussion and for preparing students to write the AP Latin essays.
The binding of the hardback textbook is sturdy, and the print is very clear and readable. Macrons are marked throughout. The introduction and notes are at a level appropriate for high school juniors and seniors. Mueller and Bolchazy-Carducci are to be commended for producing such a high quality student textbook and teacher's guide in time for the new AP Latin course.
Westminster Schools of Augusta, Georgia
Review by: James Cox, The Midwest Book Review - June 12, 2012
Written by Hans-Friedrich Mueller and edited by Donald Sprague, Caesar: Selections from his Commentarii De Bello Gallico is a 414-page compendium presenting unadapted Latin passages from the Commentarii De Bello Gallico: Book 1.1 7; Book 4.24 35 and the first sentence of Chapter 36; Book 5.24 48; Book 6.13 20 and the English of Books 1, 6, and 7. Caesar: Selections from his Commentarii De Bello Gallico includes all the required English and Latin selections from Caesar's De Bello Gallico for the 2012-2013 AP* Curriculum. Features: Introduction includes historical context, an overview of the Roman army, and Caesar as General, Politician, and Writer Latin text accompanied by same-page notes (grammatical, literary, historical, contextual) Of special note is the 'same-page' running vocabulary, the 'pull-out' vocabulary, and the complete Latin-English glossary. Enhanced with the inclusion of an online grammatical appendix, a select bibliography, eight newly-created maps, 19 black-and-white illustrations, and an appendix (Figures of Speech), Caesar Selections from his Commentarii De Bello Gallico is an ideal, 'student friendly' text book and curriculum supplement for personal and academic library Latin Language Studies reference collections and instructional reading lists.
Review by: Stephen Pearce, Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans - May 31, 2012
The De Bello Gallico of Julius Caesar has been a staple of second-year Latin programmes for many centuries. This work, however, is far too long to be covered entirely in one course, and it has always been the task of the professor to determine which books and chapters of the Gallic Wars were to be surveyed. The recent decision to set a syllabus for De Bello Gallico in the Advanced Placement Latin literature course has simplified this task immensely. This new students' edition of De Bello Gallico, prepared by Hans-Friedrich Mueller, has been issued to address the new AP syllabus.
It is a pleasure to say that Mueller succeeds admirably in this. The presentation of the text has been done according to the pattern of Clyde Pharr's classic edition of the Aeneid: the Latin text with vocabulary and notes on each page. Words in the text that the student has met previously are in italic font; the remainder of the words are to be found in the following vocabulary. There are also copious notes on a variety of subjects: linguistic, stylistic, military, and cultural. Furthermore, in addition to a complete glossary of the words found in De Bello Gallico, there is also a fold-out vocabulary sheet listing high-frequency vocabulary (which would be those words in italic font). This will prove quite worthwhile for the student who is reading along in the text, so that one will not lose his or her place in the text by having to stop and refer to the glossary or to a dictionary. This work includes, along with the Latin text, English translations of all chapters not presented in the original Latin; this, too, meets the requirements of the new AP Syllabus.
There is a very useful appendix containing the grammatical and rhetorical features used by Caesar in De Bello Gallico. This appendix supplements the references to these literary figures that are found in the various footnotes, and helps the student begin to understand the nature of Latin style. Finally, there is a quite complete and highly appropriate introduction containing biographical and literary information about Julius Caesar and his motivations for writing. There is, as well, an informative discussion of the nature and organisation of the Roman army. This helps to clarify for the student the nature and the importance of that institution.
Overall, one cannot recommend this text too highly. It should easily become the essential textbook for second year Latin. It will also be of use at the college level, and be useful for any and all interested amateurs.