Cambridge Latin Course

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The Cambridge Latin Course (CLC) is a series of textbooks published by Cambridge University Press, used to teach Latin to secondary school students. First published in 1970, the series is now in its fifth edition, and has sold over 3.5 million copies.1 It has reached high status in the UK, being the most successful Latin course in the country2 and used by 85% of Latin-teaching schools.1

Plot

Book I

The first book tells the adventures of Caecilius, a banker and paterfamilias in Pompeii from the reign of Nero to that of Vespasian. Sometimes the book deviates, to talk about Caecilius's two slaves, Grumio and Clemens, and their frequent humorous mishaps. The book also discusses Metella (Caecillius's wife) and her slave Melissa. The book ends when Mount Vesuvius erupts, and Caecilius is killed in Pompeii. However, the book leaves the reader wondering whether Caecilius' son, Quintus, survived, as indeed he did. Cerberus is Caecillius' guard dog; he sits by his master as the volcano erupts. Loyal to the end, he is the first to be killed by Mount Vesuvius. The beginning of the book is very simple, but each stage develops more complicated grammar and vocabulary. This book introduces the nominative, dative and accusative cases and different verb tenses including present, perfect and imperfect, and adjectives.

Book II

The beginning of the second book is set in Roman Britain near Fishbourne Roman Palace under Agricola, where Quintus meets Salvius and King Cogidubnus, who are historical figures. The books starts by introducing a new family, a Roman aristocrat, Salvius, who is a successful lawyer and senator in Rome. His family includes his wife, Rufilla, and many slaves, some of whom are Britons, others foreign. In the second half of the book, Quintus tells King Cogidubnus about his journey to Alexandria, where he met Barbillus, a friend of his father. Barbillus later dies of a wound during a hunting trip, and tells Quintus to find his son Rufus, who lives in Britain, thus explaining the reason for Quintus' visit.

Book III

The third book picks up in the Roman province of Britain, in the city of Aquae Sulis (Bath) in particular. Cogidubnus falls ill and goes to the baths at Aquae Sulis, and Salvius, seeing his chance, hatches a plot with the baths' owner, Lucius Marcius Memor, to kill him. Quintus foils the plan, much to Salvius' dismay. He also finds Barbillus' son Rufus and gives him a message. When Cogidubnus eventually dies in captivity, Salvius writes a false will for him. A continuous narrative throughout the book also includes Modestus and Strythio, two bumbling Romans in the military.

Book IV

In the fourth textbook, the setting moves to Rome, a few years after the events in Britain. Quintus is absent, and the main characters are Salvius, his ally Haterius, and several other Roman aristocrats, as well as some ordinary citizens. Salvius coordinates the death of Paris, a famous pantomime actor, and exiles Domitia, the emperor's wife, whose affair with Paris was exposed.

Book V

The book is set in Rome, after Agricola has successfully conquered Scotland. Various acquaintances of the emperor, including Glabrio, an adviser to the emperor, are introduced, as well as the emperor himself. Glabrio accuses Salvius of the forgery of Cogidubnus' will, while Domitia accuses him of plotting her exile. Quintus is present at Salvius' trial. Salvius is convicted and sentenced to five years of exile. In the remaining chapters, the writings of various poets and historical figures replace the narrative.

American Editions

To suit the American format, books III and IV were combined.

Recurring characters

Bust of L. Caecilius Iucundus

Main characters

Caecilius is the star of the first book. Caecilius is a banker who lives in Pompeii. When the volcano Mt. Vesuvius erupts near Pompeii, Caecilius returns to save his family. A wall falls on him in his house, and he dies.

The son of Lucius Caecilius Iucundus and Metella, Quintus is the main character of Cambridge Latin. He escapes Pompeii and in the second book goes to Alexandria, Egypt, where he is assigned to find the dying Barbillus' son Rufus. In the third book he finds Rufus, but also becomes entangled in a plot against King Cogidubnus. Quintus appears once more in the final book, where he is present for the trial of Salvius.

Gaius Salvius Liberalis, a distant relative of Quintus and the main antagonist of the series, first appears in the second book. He is portrayed as a cruel man. In the third book, it is revealed that he is conspiring against King Cogidubnus. In the fourth book, he becomes part of yet another conspiracy, to exile the philandering Domitia. In the final book, he is put on trial for his crime and sentenced to five years of exile.

Cogidubnus is the client king of Britain. First appearing in the second book, he becomes a close friend of Quintus. Cogidubnus becomes ill, and it is revealed that his advisor, Salvius is trying to murder him. Although the conspiracy fails, Cogidubnus dies in captivity of his illness.

  • Belimicus and Dumnorix

Belimicus is the chieftain of the Cantiaci tribe who first appears in the second book. Throughout the books he is insanely jealous of Dumnorix, the chieftain of the Regnenses. (Dumnorix is later killed when he attempts to seek help from the governor of Britain, Agricola.) He helps Salvius in his plot to kill Cogidubnus, but has second thoughts when he doesn't get what he thinks he deserves. Belimicus is murdered by Salvius with poison.

  • Quintus Haterius Latronius

Haterius is a rich client and friend of Salvius who appears first in the fourth book. He constructs the arch of Titus for Domitian. He appears again, briefly, in the fifth book.

  • Emperor Domitian

Emperor Domitian is the secondary antagonist of the series. He first appears in the fourth book, briefly, although he had been mentioned several times before. Domitian is the one whom Salvius takes orders from. Although Domitian instigated the crimes, Salvius does not implicate him.

Other characters

  • Metella, Caecilius' wife, Quintus' mother.
  • Grumio, their adventurous cook, who is often drunk.
  • Poppaea, Grumio's lover, also a slave, appeared to have a short fling with Clemens at one time.
  • Lucrio, Poppaea's elderly master
  • Hermogenes, stole money from Caecilius and was later convicted in court
  • Clemens, a loyal, clever slave whom Quintus frees later. He then sets up a glassware shop in Alexandria
  • Cerberus, the Iucundus family dog that dies in Pompeii.
  • Melissa, a very beautiful slave girl bought by Caecilius. It is sporadically suggested that she has some relationship with Clemens.
  • Syphax, a slave trader, presumably from the Middle East.
  • Felix, a former slave of Caecilius, saved infant Quintus from a robber
  • Marcus, Roman citizen, brother of Quartus
  • Quartus, Roman Citizen, brother of Marcus
  • Sulla, scribe who finds himself in the middle of a feud between Marcus and Quartus
  • Julius, friend of Caecilius
  • Marcus Holconius Rufus, Politician & Patron of Pompeii whom Caecilius befriends
  • Gaius Salvius Liberalis, a wealthy, devious senator
  • Rufilla, Gaius Salvius Liberalis' wife, a relative of Quintus
  • Bregans, a lazy British slave who gets in trouble for not working
  • Loquax, slave known for singing
  • Anti-Loquax, twin of Loquax, known for dancing
  • Volubilis, Egyptian cook, slave of Salvius
  • Varica, Salvius' slave manager
  • Philus, learned slave of Salvius
  • Domitillia, deceptive slavegirl of Rufilla
  • Barbillus, a wealthy Alexandrian
  • Eutychus, a mob boss in Alexandria, whom Clemens runs out of the city.
  • Rufus, Barbillus' son and heir, searched for by Quintus
  • Eupor, Rufus's Greek friend
  • Lucius Marcius Memor, a lazy, greedy, obese haruspex (soothsayer)
  • Cephalus, Memor's assistant
  • Modestus, a simple, clumsy, Roman soldier stationed in Britain
  • Strythio, a friend and fellow soldier of Modestus
  • Vilbia, native Briton, admirer of Modestus
  • Bulbus, admirer of Vilbia
  • Euphrosyne, a Greek philosopher
  • Paris, a pantomime actor
  • Myropnous, a dwarf pipe player, friend of Paris
  • Domitia, his wife, in an affair with Paris
  • Epaphroditus, a freedman of the emperor
  • Manius Acilius Glabrio, aristocrat
  • Gaius Helvidius Lupus, his friend
  • Martial, a famous poet
  • Sparsus, senator
  • Clemens, a relative of the emperor
  • Flavia, his wife
  • Polla, their daughter, in love with Helvidius but betrothed to Sparsus
  • Titus, their son, made heir to the emperor
  • Publius, their other son, also made heir to the emperor
  • Decens

In popular culture

The popularity of the Cambridge Latin Course is such that the series has even been indirectly referenced in television. The ancillary characters Caecilius, Metella and Quintus in the Doctor Who episode The Fires of Pompeii are loosely based on those from the Cambridge Latin Course.3 And in the opening episode of series four of Being Human the 'Vampire Recorder' blurts out words from Book One of the Cambridge Latin Course, ('Caecilius est in horto!') as part of the general nonsense he is chanting whilst pretending to perform a sacrificial ceremony.

Grumio is the name of the slave in the popular TV series Plebs.

See also

  • Minimus — Latin text for younger students from same publisher

References

  1. ^ a b CSCP — Starting Latin, Cambridge University Press, UK.
  2. ^ Cambridge Latin Course - Fourth Edition, Cambridge University Press, UK.
  3. ^ "The Fires of Pompeii - Fact File". BBC. 12 April 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2008.

External links








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