Latin is Alive
Maggie Conaway ’15
Whenever I reveal that I take Latin as my foreign language, I am always met with the same reaction, "Latin is a dead language." I'll admit that I've never heard Latin in a restaurant, sung on the radio, or spoken between people on the street, but the statement that Latin is dead is far from true. For starters, Latin is at the root of the Romance languages that include French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, many of which are used daily around the world. Latin was also the language of the ancient Romans whose society influenced modern architecture, government, literature, and art. The only way to fully recognize the immense influence of Latin and the Ancient Romans on modern life is to continue to study the Roman culture and keep interest in it alive.
At SI, Latin is very much alive. Not only do all students write AMDG or Ad Marjorem Dei Gloriam (For the Greater Glory of God) at the top of their papers, but the students in the Latin program are exposed to the Ancient Romans' lives in very creative ways. Iris Chan '15 agrees, "I think Latin at SI is exciting because of all the activities we do. The class sizes are really small which allow us to create community and actively learn the subject." The first major project of Latin 1 is researching and making the clothing of slaves and citizens to model down a makeshift runway in the Latin classroom. Nate Nickolai '15 reminisces, "It was a different, fun way to experience the Roman culture and be creative in the process." Other projects include writing a myth, researching the Roman baths, and the Cena project. The Cena project is an ingenious way to learn about the food and meal customs in ancient Rome. Latin II students research typical Roman foods and prepare a cena, or a main meal complete with drinks, appetizers, entrees, and desserts for the Latin I students. Megan Gamino '16 fondly remembers that, "Cena was a great way to learn about Roman meals and customs while having fun with my classmates."
The only thing better than these projects is Convention. Convention is an event in which all middle school and high school Latin scholars are invited to participate in a weekend of Roman-inspired activities. Those offered at Convention include gladiator fights, slave auctions, and Roman food construction, among others. The gladiator fights involve students jousting in a giant inflatable ring with foam swords, the slave auction is a fundraiser in which students volunteer to be "auctioned off" to a bidder, and the Roman food construction is an activity where students build Roman structures with food. Everywhere you look, students are wearing togas and stolas, greeting each other in Latin, and participating in the numerous activities offered.
Though Latin is classified as a dead language, students at SI recognize the significance of the Roman culture and proceed to participate in activities that allow them to explore the culture that laid the foundation for modern civilization.
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