Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lively Up Your Latin (with earthquakes)

That title doesn't make much sense, but then again I just woke up and am about the celebrate the one week anniversary of the school year's end. What better way to celebrate, however, then to write about some new information that might supplement well the dreadful (and dreadfully trendy) Cambridge Latin Course?

Here's something to add to the CLC's exceedingly dull treatment of Boudicca (even if it is questionable that the Romans wouldn't have known an earthquake when they felt one):

Up until now, a series of bizarre events that allegedly took place at the time have been played down as exaggeration and allegory rather than taken at face value.

But British classicist Raphael Isserlin has re-examined the ancient texts and concluded that they are not simply classical literary devices, but descriptions of a serious earthquake that hit the heart of the religious and political capital of Roman Britain - Colchester.

BBC History magazine, which has published Mr Isserlin's findings, explains that the texts recall how the “statue of the goddess Victory in Colchester partly rotated and toppled over, how strange sounds were heard and how the sea turned blood red”.

Along with Dr Roger Musson, the British Geological Survey's most senior seismologist, Mr Isserlin believes these three events are likely to occur during a strong earthquake.

“The noise, a deep, dull sound could conceivably have been described as a strange moan or prolonged groan - often accompanies earthquakes,” Dr Musson told BBC History.

“The seawater change could result from seismic waves causing cliff collapses or destabilising sloping mud deposits which can muddy the water and transform the colouring of the sea.

. . . . .

The full version of 'Boudica's Earthquake' in the July issue of BBC History Magazine, is on sale June 27, priced £3.60.
I'm thinking of having the kids perform a big musical number with the Britons singing "Boudic-CAN!" and the Romans "Boudic-CAN'T!" back and forth, building to a crescendo when the suddenly the earthquake hits and the Britons have the confidence to go at their oppressors West Side Story style. That will get the kids interested. ("When you're a Brit you're a Brit all the way ...".) Or maybe I'll just have some coffee now.

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