Rūfus et arma ātra (40 unique words) represented an extreme example of sheltering (i.e. limiting) vocabulary that addresses the lack of understandable reading material available to beginning Latin students. It had the lowest unique word count of all published Latin and modern language novellas.
That is, until now…
Rūfus lutulentus is the latest addition to the “Pisoverse” novellas (i.e. Pīsō Ille Poētulus, Rūfus et arma ātra, and Agrippīna: māter fortis), and contains ONLY 20 UNIQUE WORDS (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established within the text).* This is probably the limit of how low we can go while still having a funny, compelling novella of a considerable length. This novella has ~1200 total words, which is nearly the length of Rūfus et arma ātra (~1440), yet with a vocabulary half the size! Oh, and if there’s still any doubt as to why you should use novellas, we know that students aren’t exposed to this amount of Latin until ~Chapter 9 of Ecce Rōmānī, the popular textbook.
Rūfus et arma ātra was written with the “true novice” in mind. Rūfus lutulentus takes that ones step beyond, and makes it a reality. It’s likely to be read within the first months of school, not just the first year! Read it before Rūfus et arma ātra, use it as a quick read after ANY other novella out there, or keep it on the Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) shelf for upper level students to breeze through!
Rufus is a Roman boy who likes to be muddy. He wants to be covered in mud everywhere in Rome, but quickly learns from Romans who bathe daily that it’s not OK to do so in public. Can Rufus find a way to be muddy?
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*Word counts for some current Latin and modern language novellas exclude cognates. Some of those have a LOT of cognates. I’ve decided to stray from this practice, including all cognates in my word counts, but I do consider things like adest and aderās as the same word, and also exclude words given in footnotes. If that reckoning irritates you, it’s fine to say that while Rūfus et arma ātra has under 50 words, Rūfus lutulentus has under 25—a figure still worthy of note!