Tiberius et Gallisena Ultima: An introduction to Caesar’s Gaul

Other level D Intermediate Latin texts:

Charybdis:  capellus valde esuriens by Laura Shaw – A playful story centered around a Roman house with introductions to themes from the Aeneid.

Eurydice:  fabula amoris by Miriam Patrick and Rachel Ash  – Another title for readers intermediate level readers in preparation for the AP Latin reading syllabus, especially for themes that show up in Book 6 of the Aeneid.

Iter Icari by William J Simpson – An introduction to the traditional story of Icarus, yet he falls into the future into Miami instead of to his death

Tiberius et Gallisena Ultima by Lance Piantaggini excites me as it is another text with clear connections to content in the AP reading syllabus.  The base of the story has Tiberius lost in Gaul.  A local woman rescues him and travels with him with regions of Gaul described by Caesar.

Initially, I planned to put Tiberius et Gallisena Ultima in level C within the leveling system, but a couple of students suggested it was more difficult than other titles in level C.  With a closer look, level D as an intermediate low reader is more appropriate.  A key indicator that a student is at least emerging into the intermediate levelis the ability to understand information related to the main part of the story over various time frames.   Magister P. leads the reader to simple moments with a time change via flashbacks or dialogue as Tiberius continues his journey and reflects on the events that happened in the process.

Dialogue between Tiberius and the woman of Gaul allows the reader to experience multiple perspectives within a Latin story.  Meanwhile, the reader learns how Gaul was split into three parts with significant landmarks as described by Caesar.  Although the story revolves around Tiberius in a strange place, at times the text seems a commentary in Caesar’s style.

The intermediate reader immediately engages with vocabulary and Latin syntax that explains the movements of Tiberius.  As he encounters, a Gallic woman who is mysterious to him, the reader becomes engrossed in language of description through questions.  By chapter 3, the theme of memory appears as Tiberius attempts to figure out what happened earlier with the mysterious woman to fill in the gaps he cannot seem to remember.

As the story continues the reader will encounter that the Romans used different terms than the Gauls to describe the region, how close in proximity some of the Gauls were to Germans and how a Roman may have perceived the expression of magic by the Druids within Gaul.  This all happens with Magister P’s usual writing style that shelters vocabulary and not grammar.  But this text is quite different from others as the need to describe movement, differences and the action of the story uses much more varied vocabulary as stated with the 155 words used for the story.

Superlatives, passive verbs, noun-adjective agreement, multiple uses of the ablative, imperatives in dialogue, subjunctive clauses of characteristic and many more Latin linguist features are used to tell the story.  Magister P weaves the sheltered vocabulary and required repetition for an intermediate reader to be able to understand with topics and themes found in the advanced texts that make up the AP Latin reading syllabus.

Tiberius et Gallisena Ultima offers an interested story connected to the Pisoverse which are a must have series for all classroom reading libraries.  The Pisoverse offers reading material for Novice to Intermediatereaders with multiple ways for students to experience topics, themes and even poetry found in authentic Roman authors.  But the strength of Tiberius et Gallisena Ultima is as a title to encourage young students of Latin to read in preparation for an AP Latin course.

I plan to include Tiberius et Gallisena Ultima in a reading list beginning in Latin 2 for students to complete who are interested in being as prepared as possible for the AP Latin course.  With a classroom set, I see the potential for this title to be paired with Charybdis:  capellus valde esuriens as a novel to read as a class in the 2nd half of Latin 2 or beginning of Latin 3.

Where might you find use for Tiberius et Gallisena Ultima?

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