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Is this called reading Caesar?

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Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby pin130 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:05 pm

After playing around with Latin for at least six years (playing because I only spend half an hour a day)
I have the satisfaction of reading Caesar's De Bello Gallico, an historical document rather than more contemporary stories. But is this called reading Caesar? I mean, is this typical of reading Caesar? I start off reading a section in Greenough's edition with his notes. For words, phrases, and idioms I didn't get, I move on to Walker's edition with his notes and vocabulary. I try to bang my way through it several times but usually after all this there are several blanks in my translation. I then look at Finch's excellent translation for the final word. I could attribute my slow going to the fact that I've never memorized properly the declensions and conjugations (though I can usually recognize if a word is past or present, active or passive, or which preposition goes with which noun, etc.). Then I could wonder if it's more profitable to read a simple text or
to reach above one's head. But I think the problem is not only mine. The text itself seems to present problems. For example, Caesar so identifies himself with the Roman people that he switches between third person plural and third person singular without batting an eye (at least this is one explanation I read; another is that in Latin "people" takes the singular). Also, words which before seemed simple, such as
"quod" in Book one, chapter 14, take on different shades of meaning in close proximity. The word "eo" at the beginning of a sentence refers back to an earlier sentence, but to what and where? While this is my lack of familiarity with Latin and not a textual problem, it does make for a difficult ride. In short, I wonder if everyone reads Caesar with notes, explanations, and finally a translation. Or is it just my lack of knowledge and experience?
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Jandar » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:29 pm

Did you try operation Caesar ? It gives you several simplified versions (tiers) of the same text with increasing difficulty, easing you into the final (original) version.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:49 am

Pin130, I think the simple answer to your question is that this reading Caesar for you, at your stage of development in learning the language. Everyone is a little bit different, advances at different rates, and even those who are accomplished now at the language were once rank beginners who needed instruction and help. Your method is a good one -- you are learning from teachers, it just happens that the teachers are in print rather than interacting live in a classroom.

Many self-learners have also found it helpful to reread the text after you've done everything you have described, and sometimes to read it even a third time. This helps you to remember both the text and what you've learned about that the language through that text, which makes it easier to recognize in the next encounter.

It sounds like you've already had good success, and it will only improve as you persevere.

Oh, and it might not hurt go back and memorize your paradigms!
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby RandyGibbons » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:10 pm

Or is it just my lack of knowledge and experience?

Yes.

Sorry, but I would add to this your apparent lack of seriousness of purpose. Unless you are conducting an experiment in language acquisition, not bothering to memorize the declensions and conjugations - why are you wasting your time?
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Aetos » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:39 pm

Hi Pin130,
I've just finished D.B.G. myself, using my old high school textbook, so I can appreciate your questions. First off, as far as I recall, every text I used in school always had a commentary (or at least notes), whether it be Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, Catullus, Plautus or Livy. In the high school texts there was also vocabulary. In higher level college courses, the texts had only commentaries and one had to use a lexicon for vocabulary if there was a unfamiliar word. So, as Barry said, your method is a good one and I think it's the one that most people use, especially when you're going the self teaching route. The one thing that can be more difficult in self instruction is evaluating your understanding of the material and progress in mastering the language. In a formal environment, this of course is done through testing and recitation. This is why as a self learner you need a good translation to be able to check your work. A translation however will not answer all your questions and for that you have...Textkit!

I second Barry's suggestion concerning learning the paradigms, chiefly because of word order in Latin and the different uses of the oblique cases (genitive, dative, accusative, ablative), such as the ablative absolute, partitive genitive, etc. This is why Caesar is such a good starting point, because you start to see these constructions in relatively small doses, as Caesar tends to write in short, but sufficiently complex sentences. Because it is essentially a history (granted, a somewhat one sided history), a great deal of it involves the use of indirect discourse, which is handled differently in Latin. For a quick overview, check out Hillard & North's Latin Composition Exercises, available on this site. It has an excellent description of "oratio obliqua", as well as numerous examples taken straight from Caesar. You'll also discover what happens when you put a relative pronoun at the beginning of a sentence in Latin (e.g. quod, quo) in their section on Latin word order.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby pin130 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:51 pm

Thanks to all of you for your advice, encouragement, and criticism; all of these needed to get anywhere.
I wish I could learn the paradigms. I have tried, while studying Wheelock and again with Lingua Latina.
The problem is that I cannot keep them in my mind long term because I don't read Latin several hours a day, every day, which is what it would take. I know this from my experience with other languages. If you spend say three hours a day for ten years reading a language, even if you don't speak it, you will learn to read it
fluently. I don't have that kind of time for Latin, nor do I have time to write each conjugation a 100 times.
So if anyone knows of a shortcut, I'd be happy to hear it. But I don't think it exists.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Jandar » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:46 am

pin130 wrote:... needed to get anywhere... So if anyone knows of a shortcut...

People who really like to travel, particularly enjoy the journey itself. Because by the time they reach their destination, they are not travelling anymore... A shortcut (taking a plane instead of a camel) is definitely not what they are after.
Try to enjoy what you are doing and what you already can do! Caesar may at this moment be too difficult. So what?

Collect a bundle of texts you can already read comfortably. Say at 20-30 pages per hour. That should include the beginning of Lingua Latina which you mentioned, etc. (don't include anything that drops you below 20 pages per hour). Start & continue re-reading that bundle for half an hour a day. That way you'll read 10+ pages per day... which should expose you to more Latin per day than you can ever hope to encounter by slowly 'reading' for 3 hours at x sentences per hour. And repetition is good.

Additionally, perhaps only once per week sit down for a little longer (an hour perhaps) and read something (slightly!) more difficult. It doesn't have to be a full book: one chapter is fine. Re-read that. And again. And again. Until you can read it at a speed of 20 pages per hour. Then add it to your 'speed bundle' and select another text/chapter for your weekly hour. Don't feel compelled to immediately finish a certain book: you can come back to it later. And don't select texts that are too difficult. Chapters from textbooks with a continuous narrative, like Familia Romana, Cambridge Latin Course, Ecce Romani and Oxford Latin Course, all are fine, and each adds a slightly different vocabulary to your bundle.

Keep re-reading your bundle as it slowly expands. Even if it means reading a certain text for the 20th time. Repetition is good.
And at some point when you accidentally look at Caesar again, it will look... more open. Not easy, but manageable. So, sit down, read and re-read, and add just 1 chapter to your bundle...

Enjoy your journey!
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby rothbard » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:02 am

If learning a foreign language required reading several hours a day, very few people would master them. There is an initial stage where one goes through a book, following whichever approach one prefers (e.g. Wheelock or LLPSI) and does the exercises. When one is strong enough to start reading independently, one can start doing that as well. After you are finished with the book and the exercises, you should continue reading, tackling more and more difficult texts.

Somebody estimated that one should read at least 5000 words a week in order to learn a language well. That's only about 700 a day. If you take a text which is suitable for your level (e.g. the LLPSI series, "Ad Alpes", etc) that hardly requires hours of work. I learned Latin while having a full time job. Sometimes when I woke up early I would do some reading at home, however most of the time I would read on the train going to work and coming back, or during my lunch break. In total, probably less than an hour a day.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby pin130 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:32 pm

This is a basic question: Is it better to read a lot of simple Latin (even if boring) or a little complex Latin
(more interesting,ego gratifying). I have switched back and forth between the options many times. I still wonder which is the most profitable way to learn. Or maybe one needs both, a kind of perpetual rise and fall which refines the character. I had never heard of Ad Alpes by Nutting. Looks possibly of interest, but the price of the new (2017) edition is high. I don't know if it's just a coincidence, but it seems a free printable PDF of the old edition is unavailable. At least I can't find one.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Jandar » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:18 pm

In his preface, H.C. Nutting writes that with Ad Alpes he intends to help students make the transition from Caesar to Cicero. So it might not be the accessible text you hope it to be.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Nesrad » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:10 pm

pin130 wrote: I had never heard of Ad Alpes by Nutting. Looks possibly of interest, but the price of the new (2017) edition is high. I don't know if it's just a coincidence, but it seems a free printable PDF of the old edition is unavailable. At least I can't find one.


You can get it from Hathitrust. Use Hathi Download Helper to download it in PDF form.

Ad Alpes is the second reader, which comes after Nutting's First Latin Reader, which itself comes after Nutting's Latin Primer (key here). If you would like a refresher, I suggest going through the Primer, taking the time to properly learn the declensions and conjugations, then the two readers.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby pin130 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:55 am

Thanks Nesrad for the good links. I thought the Hathitrust was only available to those connected to institutions. I'd be very interested in downloading printable PDF's from them. I did download the Hathi
Download Helper as you suggested but I'm not sure how to proceed from there. They ask for a Hathitrust URL or a book ID, neither of them come up when you bring up Ad Alpes on their site. As for starting again with
Nutting's Latin Primer, there is something a little despairing about starting all over again but I'd do it if I thought it would be more successful than Wheelock's or Lingua Latina, both of which I learned through already together with the exercises. Is there something unique about Nutting's Primer?
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Nesrad » Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:12 am

pin130 wrote:I'd be very interested in downloading printable PDF's from them.


To save you and others the trouble, I've gone ahead and uploaded it to the Internet Archive, as I should have a while ago.

As for starting again with Nutting's Latin Primer, there is something a little despairing about starting all over again but I'd do it if I thought it would be more successful than Wheelock's or Lingua Latina, both of which I learned through already together with the exercises. Is there something unique about Nutting's Primer?


It's uniquely easy as a first Latin course. If you've already done Wheelock and Orberg, it's certainly below your level. That should make it a breeze for you.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby pin130 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:39 pm

Thanks for the upload. There are other books I might be interested in downloading printable PDF's from Hathi. As I mentioned before, I did download the Hathi Download Helper, but I couldn't proceed because they ask for a Hathitrust URL or book ID which is not listed with the relevant book on their site. I wonder if you could explain how to proceed after downloading the Helper. Hathi would be all the more helpful now that a very helpful Caesar page of links done by Wikispaces (part of Tes) closed down the page as of July 31.
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Re: Is this called reading Caesar?

Postby Nesrad » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:40 pm

I've PMed you in order to avoid spamming this thread.
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