Category Archives: Latin in Literature

The Gallic Bore.

Every year, I take students through Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.  We are back at it again.

Before I say anything else, let me point something out… something that I point out all the time.

The New Testament is under constant attack by scholars.  It withstands all attack.  The current scholars will soon be dead, rotten, and forgotten.

The New Testament will chug along.  It will conquer the world.  You have two choices.  Either get on the train or get out of the way.  Have fun trying to stop this:


The New Testament is the most documented book from the ancient world.  This is from Wikipedia:

“Parts of the New Testament have been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, having over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian.”
 Many of these early manuscripts show up within the first century.  Some of them show up within 50 years of the resurrection of Christ.  And, yet… it is quite popular to question the historicity of the New Testament.

Let’s compare the New Testament to Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.  I have never heard anyone question the validity of Julius Caesar’s book.

And yet, F. F. Bruce, the famous Biblical scholar from the last century said this:

“For Caesar’s Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 B.C.) there are several extant manuscripts, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some 900 years later than Caesar’s day.”

Did you catch that?  The first copy of the Gallic Wars shows up 900 years AFTER those assassins “removed” Caesar from office.  And how many copies of his book do we have?  12.  For details, read this:

So, back to the book.  Why do I teach it?

For starters, I kind of like the book.  Well, anyway, I find it interesting.  I grew up in Europe.  Many of the places Caesar talks about are quite familiar to me.  I see the book as an important book in the history of Europe.

But, if you are a fourteen-year-old girl, this book is not Caesar’s Gallic Wars.  No.  You are reading Caesar’s Gallic Bore.  Or, Caesar’s Gallic Snore.

Why do we ask children to read this book?  I don’t think anyone knows why.  We read it because everyone who studies Latin reads it.  It has always been done this way.

No… it hasn’t, actually.

William Harris, once a classics professor at Middlebury College, Vermont once wrote this:

Why was Caesar selected for beginners as an example of Latin writing only in America? After 1725, when the Caesarian grammars and textbooks began to appear, America was, or perhaps thought it was in a position comparable to that of the Romans in Caesar’s time. Men bearing a high form of Civilization, whether Romans or Anglo-Saxon colonists, were facing an uncivilized and dangerous race of savages (Gauls or American Indians). War was waged against the savages in their own backyard, where they presumably had an advantage. They were brave, at times admirable, but of course doomed to be beaten in the name of Civilization, under Rome or under the American government. But propaganda, Roman or American, had to show that they were a serious threat to the bearers of the burden of civilization so that no right-minded person would extend to them much sympathy or any degree of clemency

The rest of the article is here:

So… We started reading Caesar as a propaganda piece to justify our treatment of the Native Americans?  Um… okay.

I have another suggestion.  Why don’t we read the New Testament in Latin?

Oh, that’s right.  We can’t.

To pass the AP Latin exam, students must be quite proficient in two classical texts.  Students must know how to read Caesar’s Gallic Wars and Vergil’s Aeneid.

Sorry, kids.  Learning to read the most important book in the word… in Latin, will just have to wait.  Perhaps you can learn to read the New Testament in Latin some other time.  Maybe you can learn to read if after you have spent years learning to read the almost completely irrelevant Gallic Bore.  I mean… Gallic Wars.


Visual Latin before Lingua Latina?

I received this letter:

First, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have been homeschooling my 13 yr old daughter her whole life and she has never been enthusiastic about any of it. She has no interest in learning any subject. When I first mentioned learning Latin, well, let’s just say it wasn’t well received. Until we saw your youtube videos. She immediately said “Mom, we have to order this! I want to learn Latin!!”  So, thank you for what you do and for sparking some interest in my daughter.

My question is this…  We have not started any of the programs yet. We are at the very beginning stage of learning Latin (we’ll also be doing your Root Word course) and I don’t know how to start with her. Do I do the Visual Latin or the Lingua Latina first? Or are they supposed to be done at the same time? I don’t want to overwhelm her, but I want to use the best method for her to learn by. Please help!

Here is my reply:

Continue reading Visual Latin before Lingua Latina?

How to get the Harry Potter recordings…

You will need to register as a new user on my site:

After you register, I will be able to let you into the “course” pages where you will find the recordings.  

Once you have done this, let me know.  It’s a little annoying, but I have to go in and add students manually.

If you’d rather follow instructions via video, here you go:

Let me know if you have any trouble!

Dwane Thomas

The Hidden Meaning in Harry Potter

Image result for hogwarts seal wikipedia

I have finally decided to do what my students have been asking me to do for years.

This winter, I will be teaching a three-week course on the Harry Potter series.

When?  The Three Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. November 30, December 7, December 14. 7 central to 8 central…. or later if the discussion is good and if there are a lot of questions.

This is one of my favorite topics in the classroom.   But, I have never offered it online.

If you would like to find out more simply click the link below.

Henle 2 Syllabus

This week, I received a series of question about Henle and Visual Latin.  I thought the thread might be helpful for you.  Especially those in Henle 2.

“Is Visual Latin 1 and 2 designed to only cover Henle 1?  Same question I guess, is the online course only to cover Henle 1 then?”

My first reply:

Visual Latin covers all of the grammar in Henle 1 and some of the grammar in Henle 2.  Visual Latin covers all of Latin grammar.  Henle 1 does not.  I am not sure why.  Mr. Henle left a few grammatical concepts to Henle 2, gerunds for example.

The online class covers all of Henle’s First Year Latin in… the first year.  🙂

This reply generated a follow-up question:

“Another thought…If I was able to get a general handle on Visual Latin 1 and 2…do you think I could jump into Online Henle 2 with you starting in August?  I seem like that would work but just double checking.”

My second reply:

I think that would work.  You could certainly skip the Henle 1 class and jump into the Henle 2 class.  

You are, however, going to encounter one major obstacle.  Vocabulary.  Henle 1 spends a lot of time preparing students for Caesar’s Gallic Wars (Henle 2).  As you are going through Visual Latin, it might help you to follow along in Henle 1.  You will not acquire all the fantastic words like kill, slaughter, pillage, destroy, death, and slavery from Visual Latin.  🙂

This reply generated another follow-up question:

“I was wondering if your online class for Henle 2 has an outline of what you are covering from week to week?  To remind you, I am a Challenge II Director for Classical Conversations and just wondering how close week to week your course would be to CC’s schedule.  Do you have an outline in PDF to send?  I can then match and make sure I will be on schedule for when I lead my class.

Also, what is Auditing?  I am familiar with Auditing from College, so would that be what I would select?”

My reply:

Still working on the syllabus.  Let me know if you spot any inconsistencies, please.

I added the “audit” option for those who do not need grading, nor do they need a final grade.

Basically, “auditors” have access to everything but grading.  You can still come to the live classes if you like.  Grading takes a lot out of me. Trying to provide even more affordable options.  

Final reply:

Thank you…at a quick glance, here are the differences from CC’s schedule:

Lessons 7 and 8 are done in one week

Lessons 11 and 12 done in one week

Lessons 18.1 and 18.2 done in one week

Lessons 18.3 and 18.4 done in one week

Lessons 20.1, 20.2 and 20.3 done in one week

Lessons 20.4, 20.5 and 20.6 done in one week

Aside from that, each lesson is cover in one week like you have it.  Also CC only covers 30 weeks total for their year, therefore it ends at lesson 29.  Also, the reading and translation of Conquest of Gaul is done at page 115.

Just good to know.  My issue is going to be…I start Lesson 1, the week before you start your online program 🙁  I may still do it and yes Auditing would be all I need to supplement my studies and help Direct the class.  

Your course is more complete and covers the whole book.  Anyway, thanks for sharing.

If you want it, here is my syllabus for Henle 2.  Work in progress.  Let me know if you spot any mistakes, please.

Henle 2 Syllabus