Are we all Penguins?

Last night I watched the new Penguins of Madagascar movie.

I have five kids.  I watch a lot of kid movies.  In fact, I have four daughters.  I have seen all of the princess movies.

Anyway, as I was saying, I watched the new Penguin movie last night.  It was okay.  The bad guy kinda creeped me out.  I never did like octopi disguised as humans.

There was one scene, though, that really got to me.  It go to me this morning while I was reading Caesar’s commentary on the  Gallic wars.

Stay with me.  I realize I am not making any sense at the moment.

In one of the first scenes of the movie, a long line of penguins is walking across Antartica, or as the narrator calls it, “Earth’s frozen bottom.”  Funny.  I had never thought of it that way.

Back to the line.  The penguins really have no idea why they are in line, and they have no idea where they are going.  They admit this to the heroes of the movie, the Penguins of Madagascar.  The heroes break away and we never do see the long line of penguins again.

Today I was reading Caesar’s Gallic wars.  I can read the book in Latin, but, to be honest, it isn’t that much fun.

To get a different view, I switched over to an English audio translation generously provided by some volunteers over at Librivox.

I had some mindless repair work to do around the house, and a tenant needed a faucet leak fixed.  For those of you who do not know, I took an apartment maintenance job years ago when we fell on hard times.  I still have that job.  I use it these days to pack in the audio books, podcasts, and language courses.

It turns out, I had a large chunk of the day available for listening.  I listened to about three quarters of Caesar’s book.

About halfway through the book, I thought of the Penguins.

And then I asked myself, “Why am I listening to this?”

Caesar’s book is just not all that interesting.

I mean… I like it, somewhat.  It is generally interesting to me. But, at one point in my life, I seriously considered a career in archaeology.  I love reading history books.  I grew up in a part of the world once occupied by the Romans.  That period of history has always intrigued me.

But, why in the world would anyone but historians read this book?  I simply cannot figure it out.

And, yet, all over the world, Latin students are currently reading the book.  How did that happen?

Who decided that Latin students should read hundreds of pages of detailed military history… in Latin?

Who decided that my 14 year old girls should translate into Latin such lovely sentences as this one: “There were dead bodies floating in the river.”  (This is an actual sentence from Robert Henle’s First Year Latin.)

Who decided that my 14 year old girls, in order to learn Latin, msut read the writings of a man who could not stay married, committed adultery on multiple occasions, slaughtered and entire tribe as an example, and sold 50,000 people into slavery in one day?

Really.  I am not kidding.  Who decided this?

I don’t have the answer.  I wish I did.  I am looking for it.  If you have it, please send it to me.

In the Penguin movie, the hero penguins stepped out of line.  They asked where the line was going.  No one knew.  Yet, the penguins in the line wanted the hero penguins to get back into the line.  “It’s nature,” they wisely explained.

Instead the leader of the heroes responded, “I reject nature!”

The shocked penguins in the line wandered on.

This may come as a shock, but, “I reject Caesar!”

Don’t get me wrong.  If you are in a school that requires you to read the book, I can help you.  I am leaving my Henle 2 class up.  In this class, I will guide you through Caesar’s book.  You are stuck.  I can help.

But, If you are not required by your school to study Caesar’s book, don’t be surprised when I recommend something else.