Magister P has created a fantastic universe for Novice readers to experience ancient Rome through Latin text that they are able to access with his Pisoverse. Rufus et Arma Atra is a must have title for a reading library as it is accessible to Novice level learners with mere hours of instruction in Latin. The Teacher’s edition offers an opportunity to use this as a first class novel for early Latin one students as well. The audiobook offers support for you if you need materials for students to hear Latin on a day you need a substitute.
As all of the Pisoverse, Rufus et Arma Atra uses the strategy of sheltering vocabulary but not grammar. The 1st page uses 5 dative pronouns with the ei placent construction. The 1st chapter continues with examples of noun-adjective agreement, both singular and plural verb forms, present and future tense verbs, genitives with days of the week constructions and both simple sentences and sentences that elaborate a little with connecting words like quoque. Gladiatores, weaponry and the Collossesum make it into chapter 1 with strong visual support to insure comprehension.
As the title continues, Rufus’ brother, Piso, is introduced. Dialogue between the brothers offers 1st person and 2nd person verb forms. Different dative forms continue to appear with placet and placent throughout the story. This offers numerous opportunities for an instructor to lead conversation in Latin about what students’ preferences and likes are from the text. Simple imagery of gladiatores encourages the interested reader to learn more. One Word Images seem a good fit with this part of the book.
Descriptions of characters offer opportunities to expose students to degree of comparisons connected within the story line. One gladiator rises above the rest which offers an instructor a rich opportunity to discuss gladiators and competitive sports along with students preferences and likes. Rufus explores many parts of Rome while attempting to satisfy his enjoyment of gladiators. Later chapters can easily be paired with picture or map talks of parts of Rome.
Many of the students in my program have read Rufus et Arma Atra. Some think it is overly repetitive but most agree that this title is more compelling than Rufus Lutulentus. Students frequently comment that they enjoy how they can read about other characters within the Pisoverse later as they work their way through the different Pisoverse stories. Piso Perturbatus and Rufus Lutulentus are both a nice pairing to this text that allow the Novice reader connected reading material with development of characters, which is a challenge for Novice level readings.