Telling Tales in Latin: A Review

Stephen Addis, a retired Classics teacher with 36 years’ experience of teaching Classics in state and independent schools, has recently reviewed Telling Tales in Latin by Lorna Robinson, and has kindly allowed us to reproduce his review in full here on our blog. Stephen taught Classics for 32 years as Head of Department, and since retiring teaches as part of the University of the Third Age. He has a  BA Honours Degree in Classics from Bristol University and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the School of Education, University of Bristol.

Read his review in full below, or on Amazon, where he rated it five stars out of five.

‘Telling Tales in Latin’ by Lorna Robinson is a new and exciting Latin course published by Souvenir Press. The Roman poet Ovid serves as the storyteller and his chatty, lively style will appeal to students of all ages from the outset.

A selection of mythological stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses forms the basis of the Latin text. The grammatical material and vocabulary cover the requirements of the OCR Entry Level qualification in Latin, making this course the only one which currently caters for this prescription.

From Chapter 1, students are encouraged to see and also to work out for themselves the connections between Latin and English derivatives, some of which will prove to be rather thought provoking, but will help to extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding of English vocabulary.

Each chapter follows a similar format, namely a brief introduction, the myth itself with helpful vocabulary, a clear explanation of the new grammatical point being studied and excellent suggestions for further activities.

Pupils are introduced to the most important areas of Latin grammar so that they can see how the structure of the language works. Verb tenses which are covered include the Present, Imperfect and Perfect with clear definitions of each. The four conjugations, termed ‘groups’, with their infinitives, are outlined. If any form of a Perfect tense verb is different, it appears each time in the vocabulary. Two very common irregular verbs (sum and possum) in the Present tense only are given, which Ovid calls ‘wild verbs’. Nouns (Masculine, Feminine and Neuter) in the first three declensions are given which are again referred to as ‘groups’ with explanations of subject and object rather than the use of Nominative and Accusative, although the term the ‘Dative’ is actually used and explained and reference is also made to it being the indirect object in the clause. The agreement of adjectives is covered as are question words including – ne. Imperatives, prepositional uses, phrases of time and superlatives are all glossed in the vocabulary. Every grammatical structure is explained in a concise and lucid way in Ovid’s inimitable style.

The book contains superb colourful illustrations either on every page or double page by Soham De which will help to enhance the students’ appreciation and enjoyment of each mythological tale.

The ‘Activities’ section at the end of all the chapters will provide students and teachers alike with a wealth of opportunities to explore the appeal of mythology in many different ways. Suggestions cover such areas as thinking about how myths might contain morals, personal responses, creative writing, drama activities, artwork and illustrations and reasons why the theme of metamorphosis has captured the imaginations of artists, sculptors and writers. Readers are encouraged to consider the enduring appeal of these tales and how they can relate to important modern ideas including relationships with other people and looking after the planet. Teachers will easily be able to develop cross-curricular links with many other subjects.

There are some errors which need to be corrected before the next print, the most serious being ‘currus’ termed a group 2 noun on page 63, but these can easily be remedied and will not detract from the reader’s enjoyment of the text.

‘Telling Tales in Latin’ will delight all who read it both visually and from its rich selection of tales. This little book focuses excellently on the importance of literacy and language and makes it a superb and stimulating introduction to learning Latin. Students will be inspired to explore more of Ovid’s stories and their enjoyment of Latin will be increased greatly. It is one of the best Latin course books currently available and will undoubtedly prove to be a great success, particularly with younger children. Congratulations to Lorna Robinson who has produced a real masterpiece, which brings the subject to life.

Thank you to Stephen Addis for allowing us to reproduce his review here in full.

Telling Tales in Latin

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4 thoughts on “Telling Tales in Latin: A Review

  1. Great project by Mrs. Lorna Robinson!

    But do you know that a part of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in his original Latin text is turned into a graphic novel? See the Dutch children story site: http://booxalive.nl/phaethon/
    Beware: the slideshow takes some seconds to load.

    On this site also are shown the graphic novels of Plautus’ “Curculio” and Vergil’s “Dido et Aeneas”, in the original Latin texts:
    http://booxalive.nl/dido-en-aeneas/
    http://booxalive.nl/curculiokorenwurm/

    This goes all with the slogan “Latin is FUN’!

    Best wishes,
    Magda van Tilburg – philologist/illustrator
    Amsterdam

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