Ego, Polyphemus: a Latin novella to introduce themes from Classical authors to the established Novice level Latin reader.

Ego Polyphemus

Other level B novice Latin texts:

Agrippina: Mater Fortis by Lance Piantaggini at Magister P – A Roman matron has a secret.  Who else knows?

Brando Brown Canem Vult – A young boy wants a dog but his parents do not think he is ready.  What will he do?

Familia Mala:  Saturnus et Iuppiter by Andrew Stephan Olimpi at Comprehensible Classics – Bad fathers and rebellious children all in god form.

I have yet to find a Latin novella that I don’t enjoy reading to some degree.  As authors continue to expand reading material, all have a place in a library as they may connect to even 1 student who isn’t currently a reader.  Yet, I find myself fond of Magister Olimpi’s texts.  Many of his texts explore classical themes in a comprehensible narrative.  These titles are important, especially for those students whom I will only see for 2 or 3 years of Latin.  These titles offer experiences with classical ideas that many students in a high school Latin classroom simple won’t have.

Magister Olimpi publishes more often than I feel I can create a creative lesson plan, which is much needed with Latin reading materials lacking many texts for Novice learners.  Head over to comprehensibleclassics to see all of Olimpi’s titles.  Teachers of Latin, while you are there check out his year in F7.  Explore his thought process in planning and adapting what happens in a classroom focused on students comprehending Latin.  A clue into someone else’s thought process is useful.  For myself, I found Magister Olimpi’s a year in f7 on strong reminder that I often complicate things in my planning.  Routines are important in this type of work and Olimpi demonstrates how to create some with certain types of activities.

One routine activity that I continue to find valuable for students, and even for those who sometimes complain about reading, is Self Directed ReadingO, Polyphemus fits into Novice level materials extremely well.  Polyphemus describes his home, his work, how he likes smelly cheese, his distrust of humans, his crush, his disappointment, his angry response to disappointment, how he deals with sadness, his dream and struggles to be a poet which all ends in tragedy as you well know if you are familiar with the story of the cyclops.  This text works well as a class novel or book club group to offer students a chance to discuss ideas such as their own work, hopes, disappointments and relationships.

The connection to classical literature is clear to the Latin teacher but is woven within a story for the beginning learner of mythology to follow and explore.  Although there are some perfect tense verbs in the story, it is mostly told in the present tense.  A novice learner not ready yet to distinguish between time frames will still be able to follow the story line without much misunderstanding.  The title cleverly begins in the 1st person by telling the story with Polyphemus as the narrator.  This offers a chance for the instructor to combine reading of this text with discussions and class stories centered on students from the 1st person perspective.

The novice reader will comprehend much descriptive language as Polyphemus describes his home, brothers and other items throughout the story.  Ego sum and other 1st person verb constructions are used near mihi placet or non placet constructions to guide the reader to connect mihi placet to express 1st person preferences.  Throughout the simple story, complex constructions such as indirect questions, and indirect statements enhance meaning.  Because vocabulary is sheltered instead of grammar even the Novice Reader will comprehend the story as these complex constructions come up after the reader has experienced the familiar vocabulary numerous times.

There is much more to find in respect to Latin constructions found throughout the story.  But these moments do not block the reading flow of the novice reader.  Are you or your students a beginning Latin reader?  Are you interested in classical mythology and ideas?  Want Latin text to read with the flow of reading opposed to continued pauses to look up Latin works?

O, Polyphemus is a must have title in your school library or personal Latin reading library.  The connection to classical literature is apparent yet with mastery of some basic Latin structures you will be able to read the text with a flow that will enhance acquisition of vocabulary.  But don’t take my word for it.  Get your copy now!

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