Overview. In this course students
continue their acquisition of Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary by
reading the oratory of Marcus Tullius Cicero, who was arguably the greatest
Roman author of all. The core texts are Cicero’s first and second
against Catiline, in which he describes and denounces one of the most
perilous episodes—so he says—in the history of the Roman Republic:
the conspiracy led by L. Sergius Catiline in 63 BCE. We shall devote
special attention to the conspiracy itself: the conspirators, their
plot, and its consequences for the Republic.
Objectives. The specific goals
for this course are as follows:
to learn advanced Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary;
to appreciate the composition and style of Latin prose;
to understand the content, form, and scope of Ciceronian oratory;
to discern the historical and cultural concerns within Cicero's rhetoric.
Furthermore, students will obtain and exercise the following skills:
to read literature critically, with sensitivity and precision;
to communicate critical thinking in presentations and written assignments;
to plan, execute, and complete a long-term project; and
to engage in and to facilitate group discussions and activities.
Requirements, Grading, Expectations, and Policies.
Quizzes: 40% (10% each)
Final examination (13 May, 9:00 a.m.):
Four long quizzes (think of them as small exams) are scheduled roughly
every three weeks. You may expect each quiz to test your comprehension
of the reading to date, including grammar and syntax. See the Timetable
Furthermore, you will have the opportunity
to correct your mistakes on the quizzes for half credit. For example,
if you scored only 50% on a quiz, and you managed to correct your errors,
your actual score would be a 75%.
Since one of the objectives for this course is to give you a sense
of Cicero's style, the final exam will test your ability to read selections
of his rhetoric that we have not read in class. The passages will
be of average difficulty, and will reflect what we have observed throughout
the term. More information, including the date, soon.
Anatomy of a conspiracy:
Class participation: 20%
Our ongoing project this term will be to reconstruct the Catilinarian
conspiracies in all their shadowy glory. Toward this end, we shall
devote several Friday sessions to various discussions and short presentations.
The session dates are listed in the Timetable.
To view the Conspiracy project page, click here.
The write-ups for each session will be posted online:
Mystery novel: Catilina's Riddle
Class participation involves more than just attendance. You must
also keep up with the readings and assignments, and participate actively
during our sessions. Furthermore, I expect that you will come to
class on time and that you will maintain an environment that promotes the
exchange of ideas.
In my language classes I am very particular about the way translation
is conducted. First, I ask that you not write translations of any
kind, nor any grammatical notes, in your texts. This may be done
elsewhere, of course, in a notebook or on flash cards or via some other
system. Second, when you are called upon to translate, please do
not read from a prepared translation. You will learn best by looking
at the Latin—and only the Latin.
From time to time I shall ask you to prepare short presentations or
assignments; these will count toward the class participation grade,
except when related to our semester project.
In all of my classes I adhere to strict attendance and late work policies.
to view them.
Extra credit option:
In order to enhance our understanding of Catiline's conspiracy, we
shall read Steven Saylor's Catilina's Riddle, which is one of his
series starring Gordianus the Finder, an ancient Roman "detective."
We shall devote as much time as we can to discussion of the novel (tentative
dates are listed in the Timetable).
Such discussions will count toward your class
For more on Steven Saylor and his works, click here.
As I noted above, success in this course depends on your ability to
organize vast amounts of information within your head. To encourage
the treading of a straight and narrow path, I am offering an extra-credit
bounty (5%) at the end of term to any and all who can demonstrate to me
that they have employed a systematic approach to memorizing vocabulary
and grammar. A system might include flashcards, notebooks, computer
databases, or a combination of these things.
Most important is that you find a study system that works for you—and
that you stick with it.