Roman frieze

“A strategy for introducing Horace to high school and undergraduate Latin students”
Karen Zeller (HomeSource, ACE Charter School and Lane Classical Program)

High school students and undergraduates often complain of difficulty reading Horace.  This paper reviews the developmental characteristics of late adolescents and young adults that contribute to this difficulty, and then describes the features of Horace's writing that represent the difficulty,  with specific instances from the Carmina that students frequently find troubling.  The paper then presents a strategy for introducing Horace to these students.  The strategy begins with close reading of lyrics of a song by Bruce Springsteen and a poem by John Donne, to introduce some ways in which poets use the tension between eros and thanatos.  The awareness of mortality makes humans human, distinguishing us from gods and non-human animals; it also sets the bounds of time and space that make the present moment sweet.  A speech of Achilles as delivered in the film Troy is used to illustrate this idea.  The force opposing death is not life but love.  Students are led through examination of several ways in which love appears to transcend the limits of mortality and individuality.  Finally, the language developed in this discussion is applied to readings from the Carmina.

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