Review by: Diane Johnson, Classical Outlook - October 19, 2005
Reading Livy's Rome: Selections from Books I- VI of Livy's Ab Urbe Condita. By MILENA MINKOVA and TERENCE TUNBERG. Wauconda IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers,
Inc., 2005. Pp. xii and 276. Paper. $32.
I have been looking forward to this new text by Minkova and Tunberg. Delighted with the innovative and compelling approach which they adopted in their recent Readings and Exercises in Latin Prose Composition from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Focus Publishing, 2004), I was expecting a text with which to transport intermediate Latin students beyond grammar drills into the place where practice begins to pay off the reading of a "real" author. I hoped for a work which would honor the intelligent student's thirst for a literary experience while still providing some lexical and syntactical assistance. In Reading Livy's Rome I have not been disappointed.
But be prepared for something new. You will find all the features of a school reader in Reading Livy's Rome-historical and biographical discussion, grammar notes, glossary-but reformatted to facilitate the authors' goal: easing the student into reading Latin as literature. The canonic narratives from Livy's early books are here, but newly arranged: a paragraph of Livy's text on the right (in some cases very slightly adapted, the original text of Ogilvie's Oxford edition being contained in an appendix), facing a Latin paraphrase of the same material on the left. Abundant vocabulary is provided on each page and, for the genuine Livy portion, a commentary on social, cultural and historical material. The student is invited first to read through the paraphrase to grasp its content, then to assay the genuine Livy. This presentation continues for approximately two-thirds of the book. Then, at the beginning of the passages from Book IV, Minkova and Tunberg vary the pattern: the genuine Livy alone is presented, with only the more complex passages given a Latin paraphrase which now is relegated to the footnotes. The notes in turn become more detailed.
Minkova and Tunberg assume that the student has worked through a primer and has acquired a basic familiarity with as much Latin morphology and syntax as have been presented in a work such as Wheelock's; in fact the glossary in Reading Livy's Rome specifically includes only those words not found in Wheelock. However, its notes provide ample references to Gildersleeve and Lodge, along with helpful stylistic discussion interspersed in a pleasant format throughout the text.
You will find all the old favorites here: Romulus and Remus, Coriolanus, Lucretia and Camillus. I was a little disappointed at the absence of Virginia (although Minkova and Tunberg have included the Twelve Tables), and the heroic cackling of Juno's geese is left out of the Gaulish Sack. Were I making the selections, I think I would have omitted the Licinio-Sextian Rogations, considering the amount of sociological background with which students will have to be provided to put them in an historical context. Such prejudices aside, however, let me say that I am delighted with the book's format, and I am convinced that my second-year students are fortunate in being able to begin their study of Latin literature with this text.
DIANE JOHNSON Western Washington University
Diane. Johnson @wwu. edu
Review by: Donna Wright - April 12, 2004
Peer review of Livy's History of Rome April 12, 2004 by Donna Wright
I have been quite impressed with the manner in which this book on Livy's history of Rome has been constructed. Having a paraphrase before the adapted passage, followed by the original text, offers the teacher a variety of teaching strategies. Students can develop composition skills by being required to restate a passage into another grammatical instruction since the students have been exposed to the passage in three different ways. For example, students could be asked to convert a subjunctive purpose clause to a gerundive construction or to rewrite a subordinate clause as an ablative absolute. Teachers who feel comfortable using oral Latin may opt to ask comprehension questions in Latin, expecting a Latin response from the student. The teacher might ask the student to rephrase a statement in simpler Latin. An additional advantage of the construction of this book is the increase in students' vocabulary acquisition as they are exposed to words that are synonyms of more commonly used words.
The paraphrases are written on a rather sophisticated level. I think this is an advantage to both the student and the teacher in that they are not overly simple. Teachers can then elicit the most simplified version from the students themselves. This should promote the students' confidence in his or her reading ability. If the paraphrases were over simplified to begin with, the students might feel they are not yet capable of handling Latin on this level.
The authors' preface provides excellent background on Livy himself and his goals in the writing of his histories. I would suggest some elaboration on Livy's relationship with Augustus' and his role in promoting the emperor's agenda.
I found the footnotes, whether they dealt with grammar or background material, very useful and clearly stated. The glossary was well done although I question whether it should be necessary to indicate the number of a verb conjugation for students of this level. I found the sections labeled "Livy's Language" well-written and informative.
Respectfully submitted, Donna H. Wright
Review by: Dirk Sacré, Leuven University - April 7, 2004
Yesterday I finished reading the Tunberg and Minkova manuscript. As I told you when I was half the way, the manuscript is sound and as all the works of Tunberg (and Minkova), this one too is a good piece of work which will render excellent services at school. I only had to correct some minor mistakes, errors and misprintings, especially in the paraphrases. I have also done some suggestions to improve the text, now and then in order to bring some variety in the Latin. I would suggest the authors to have a look at the many places where they used 'quoque', which, as far as I can judge, is often used a bit awkwardly. The second version, then, which offers but slight changes (word order, small additions) in comparison with the original Livian text, required a fair number of notes. Therefore I asked myself if it was really worth while to offer three 'Livian' texts, and if it would not be possible to present only the easy paraphrases and the original text (this would require only a few additional notes, I guess): but I confess that I am not familiar with the class practice in America, and that Terence and Milena know it better and thus precisely realize how they can introduce Livy in the best way. Finally, the extracts from book six seemed rather technical to me and I wonder if I myself would have selected these. But here again, I trust that there is a tradition and that the authors considered the historical importance of the contents of that book; moreover I do not know at what age American pupils usually read Livy; if he is read by youngsters aged 17, these texts will do.
I am convinced that the book, which actually ties in with long forgotten traditions of teaching Latin authors, will find its way to the schools. It involved more thinking about Livy's Latin and the meaning of the texts - the notes are excellent and really to the point-, and thus more work than one would think at first sight. Please congratulate the authors on my behalf.
Review by: A. Castro, Westminster College (PA) - March 22, 2004
I believe that the overall format of Milena's and Terry's proposed text is well conceived, and that in their own introduction/preface they articulate well their rationale. I like very much their practice of writing a Latin periphrasis for the earlier selections as a way of "initiating" students into reading Livy's Latin--which is difficult, but (as Milena and Terry put it) very much operae pretium. I believe that, as written, the periphrases should achieve their intended purpose.
I also like Milena's and Terry's practice of slightly adapting Livy's text in the beginning, but gradually phasing out both the periphrases and the adaptations of Livy's text. Although perhaps one could argue for continuing the periphrases for a couple of more of the selections, I don't see that as an absolute necessity or as being any serious defect in the overall plan of this text.
In short, it is the sort of text that I myself would be happy to use with my undergraduate students, and I certainly encourage Bolchazy-Carducci to continue with the plan to publish it. It so happens that I am teaching this coming fall a course which will include Livy as part of the readings. If your timetable is to get Milena's & Terry's text onto the market in time for use in the fall, I would be glad to order it for my class. However, if it is unlikely to be available in time for fall classes (for which, as you know, orders are normally sent in by early summer at the latest), I would be very interested in seeking permission to "test market" this text with my class, even in its "draft" form. If so, I would, of course, be willing to write up my reactions, and those of my students, at the end of the semester.