Over the last couple years, I’ve doubled-down on pedagogy, becoming very comfortable teaching Latin, and can now place more emphasis on improving my own proficiency. Whatever my current proficiency level is, however, I’ve written a poetry-themed historical fiction novella set in Rome for the Novice reader (including 22 original lines of dactylic hexameter), which, as many have noted, we are in dire need of as a profession.
As a speaker, my Latin is not great, but it’s certainly NOT WORSE than most teachers out there. This novella, then, is an educational tool to get those teachers AND their students to read more fluently (ease + speed). It also happens to be a confidence-boosting read as an intro to Latin poetry if used in upper-levels. Pīsō Ille Poētulus currently contains just 154 words (including cognates, but not names or different forms of words, so this is quite low). I strongly feel that reading material with a low word count and frequently recycled vocabulary is a great asset to the Novice reader. Because of this parameter, decisions were made, such as esne hīc? in place of adesne? Here, I didn’t use an additional word, adesse (even if it’s a compound of other words that occur frequently), since the same, or similar meaning could be expressed with other words that already appear in the novella. Because I fully admit that my focus has been on pedagogy, I recognize that some people might have excellent suggestions to make Pīsō Ille Poētulus an even better resource for the Novice reader and our students reading Latin poetry.
So, I’m releasing the first five chapters of Pīsō Ille Poētulus (though without illustrations or all poetry audio files) for you to pilot in your classes, or at least read over Labor Day weekend. Why? This is for us—as Latin teachers—especially those who’d like to share Latin poetry with their students before the majority of them bail after year 2 or 3, and an opportunity for those with high levels of Latin proficiency to contribute to the profession.
Interested? I’m asking that you take a look at the first half of the novella, maybe run off a class copy (or project it and read through with upper-level students), and then get back to me with ways to improve it—particularly concerning the buzz about “Latinity” and “Classically Attested” and attention to Latin idiom. Keep in mind, however, the need for a Novice-level novella with a very low word count. If both can exist, hooray! If not, I’m sticking with a low word count as the priority, and you can go ahead and write a perfectly idiomatic Latin novella for Intermediate+.
Given that parameter of keeping the word count low, I’ll gladly accept suggestions for direct substitutions, especially ones that can be used in many places, or ones that don’t increase the word count by more than a word or two. Some suggestions I’ve already received have been fantastic, yet would have pushed Pīsō Ille Poētulus beyond what you’d expect from novellas with higher word counts, such as Cloelia, or Itinera Petrī. After October 1st, I’ll begin editing Pīsō Ille Poētulus for November publication. Remember, this novella is for us, so speak now or…
Click here to access Pīsō Ille Poētulus for piloting. <– Updated 9.19 (added two brief chapters, brother’s name “Rūfus,” and Piso’s mean name for his brother, “Rūfus Fūfus”)