Activities for Elementary Latin Students in VRoma
The following activities have been designed especially for students using the second edition of the Oxford Latin Course, but they can be quite easily adapted by teachers using other elementary Latin texts. Giving students copies of the Quick Start Guide to the VRoma Learning Environment is recommended for both activities.
After the class has read the story of Cloelia, take them to visit the Sacra Via Summa in the VRoma MOO, where they will find an equestrian statue of Cloelia. There they can also read English translations of Livy's version of the story (which is more complex than that of the OLC) and also Pliny the Elder's description of the statue; the Latin texts are also accessible there, but these are too difficult for elementary students. Reading these passages indicates that the story of Cloelia, though clearly legendary, did have very ancient roots, that there was a statue which at least some Romans thought honored Cloelia, that both Livy and Pliny were aware that the story had significance for Roman conceptions of women, and that the Romans were willing to attribute heroism to women but still envisioned it in a masculine framework—an heroic woman would behave like a man and be honored in the same way as a man (i.e., a toga and an equestrian statue).
The statue itself is a “bot,” a MOO object that will, when activated, produce Latin responses whenever any visitor in its location “speaks.” Cloelia is programmed to use only vocabulary, grammar, and forms learned in Part I of the OLC, especially those found in chapter 16. Students should therefore be able to converse with her in Latin. Since the computer selects her dialogue at random (though in response to certain definite cues), it would be up to the student to type in a Latin response appropriate to what she has just said and thus to keep the conversation going.
Instructions: This can be handled in two ways:
- If you have a classroom or lab with a computer, a projection system, and an internet connection, this activity works well as a classroom demonstration, with one student at the computer logged on to the VRoma MOO, but the whole class reading and discussing the translations, reading Cloelia's dialogue, and composing responses that the student at the computer will type.
- Assign individual students or small groups of students (no more than 3-4 at a time) to log on to the MOO at different times, read the translations, and carry on a conversation with Cloelia. Have students save a copy of their HTML Chat Logs and email them to you; instructions for doing this can be found in the Quick Start Guide.
Students should Log in the the MOO with their character names and passwords or as guests and proceed to the Sacra Via Summa. Ask the students to “walk” rather than teleport so they can get a sense of location (click on exits at the bottom of the web frame—first Rome, then Region 8 Forum Romanum, Sacra Via Infima, and finally Sacra Via Summa). Remind them to exit properly by clicking Quit or typing @quit and pressing Enter.
- Students will increase their knowledge of the legend of Cloelia and of Roman attitudes toward women and their efforts to fit females into their conception of public heroism.
- Students will begin to develop a sense of “place” in relation to Rome; i.e., Rome was a real city, and location played an important role in the lives and stories of ancient Romans.
- Students will practice reading and writing in Latin in an enjoyable conversational framework.
Teachers who are not using the OLC can also have their students carry out this assignment, but they should first familiarize them with whatever vocabulary they may not already know (e.g., terms like obses, “hostage” or custodio, “to guard”). Contact Barbara McManus via email if you want a complete list of everything that Cloelia is programmed to say.
After the class has read the story of how the young Horace and his father found and rented an attic room in a Subura tenement, give them, as individuals, this homework assignment, which is detailed on a separate web page so it can be printed out and handed to students, or you can give them the above URL. Have students save a copy of their HTML Chat Logs and email them to you; instructions for doing this can be found in the Quick Start Guide. If your students do not have their own VRoma character names and passwords, they can log on as guests, but remind them to use Preferences to change Hospes to their real names so you will know who they are.
The uxor ianitoris with whom the students will converse is also a Latin bot, and they should already know all the vocabulary and grammar she uses; her dialogue is based on the story in chapter 19, but there are some surprises to keep the students' interest.
- Students will increase their knowledge of housing conditions for the lower classes and learn something about the poorer sections of ancient Rome.
- Students will practice reading and writing in Latin in an enjoyable conversational framework in which they have a real goal.
- Students will also practice narrative skills in Latin through writing a letter home.
Teachers who are not using the OLC can also have their students carry out this assignment, but they should first familiarize them with whatever vocabulary they may not already know (e.g., terms like conducere, “to rent” or cenaculum, “attic room”). Contact Barbara McManus via email if you want a complete list of everything the uxor ianitoris is programmed to say.