Quor Non: The 2023 Summer Reading Event

incipit Terenti Adelphoe. So begins the production notice of the Adelphoe (Fratres latine), the last comedy written by Publius Terentius Afer around 160 B.C. Terence, as you may probably know him, was born in Carthage and came to Rome as a slave, according to the biographer Suetonius. His Adelphoe, based on a Greek play by Menander, is about two sets of brothers. One brother has two sons, one of which the father gives to his brother to raise. The two fathers have two very different approaches to child-rearing – think Phil Dunphy vs. Jay Pritchett (thanks, Katie). Of course the question is – who’s the better father? Perhaps a more relatable question for us – who’s the better teacher? If only the question of who’s better was so simple.

That was one of the many topics that came up as Ross Shaler led us through the Adelphoe. We met this past Thursday in a sunroom in Bowdoinham, plates full of burrata and other goodies, some cold beverages on the side (nunc est bibendum). Equipped by Ross with a text, commentary, and vocabulary help, we began our Terence journey. Immediately we were met by quom, more widely known as cum the conjunction. Welcome to a time before Ciceronian standardized Latin. Although, as several audience members proposed, the distinct spelling may be more welcoming to our students than the homographical issue they face by Latin II. Thoughts?

Along our journey, we were also gifted a surprise metrical performance of some of the lines by two of our members (thank you, Steve and Henry). After a year of dactylic hexameter, it was a humbling and euphonious reminder of the many meters across Latin. Stories from childhood, parenting fears and joys, thoughts on what in the world Romans found funny all were shared around the table.

As with many Roman comedies, the Adelphoe can be a textual portal for students into the less polished side of Roman culture and society. But students don’t have to have 3 years of Latin under their belt in order to enjoy Terence. For fans of sententiae antiquae, the play holds many fun examples of beginner-intermediate grammar topics. For your fall planning, I hope you find these few helpful:

quid agis, Micio? quor perdis adulescentem nobis? quor amat? quor potat? quor tu his rebus sumptum suggeris, vestitu nimio indulges? nimium ineptus es.

(Lines 60-64)

Although the future may require some assistance depending on where students are, the examples of present tenses for several different conjunctions can be helpful to many a first year Latin student. The quors can easily be changed to curs. And who doesn’t want to add another insult to their Latin arsenal?

docui monui bene praecepi semper quae potui omnia.

(Lines 963)

The perfect tense of four verbs from the DCC Latin Core Vocab List and a relative clause can be useful to any Latin student in their groundwork stages of Latin.

nam qui mentiri aut fallere institerit patrem aut audebit, tanto magis audebit ceteros.

(Lines 55-56)

This may be geared more towards those students with closer to two years of Latin on their side. In addition to the deponent and ablative of degree of difference, this particular sentence could spark some interesting discussion concerning how we treat not just parents, but all those around us.

These discussions and educational takeaways were certainly a highlight of the event, but not the only. Building connections between other Latin educators and lovers of the ancient world can be difficult in the spread out schools of Maine, where often you are the only Latin instructor on campus. This reading event was a way to build up camaraderie and a reminder that we are a collegium, albeit widespread. Thank you to all who came and participated, and may these words be an encouragement to keep an eye out for this event next year. Dis volentibus, this is only the first of many summer reading sessions.