Monday, March 02, 2009


Chapter 16 of the popular textbook Lingua Latina finds the author very explicitly advocating for his own faith in the events that beset his characters. I'll admit that the manner in which Medus' prayer to Neptune is silenced is funny, but I'm not comfortable with a narrative in a Latin textbook offering proof of Christ's divinity, and so I've adapted the text to include a bit about other religions without giving primacy to any, and rather than allowing the textbook to feel preachy to my students, it'll provide a nice branching-off point to talk about religions under the Roman empire.

Just after Lydia prays to her 'dominus', prompting a dismissive response from her boyfriend, the runaway slave, I have the following:

Lydia: “sed dominus meus est deus!”
Mēdus: “iam satis deōs habeō, et Neptūnus me servāre potest!”
Lydia, tollēns manūs ad caelum, Chrīstum invocat, et Mēdus iterum magnā vōce Neptūnum invocat. Omnēs nautae, quī ex multīs terrīs sunt, deōs suōs invocāre incipiunt. Aliī Magnam Mātrem invocant, aliī Sōlem Invictum. Sed vocēs omnium vix audiuntur propter tonitrum.
Don't get me wrong: I would never censor an authentic text. But when a textbook author tries to slip in an inauthentic proof of his own religious beliefs (in this case making it clear that Christ is real and Neptune a figment) I have to draw the line. Nothing in my version prevents a Christian from assuming that Christ stopped the storm, nor does it instruct any of the other students that their faith (or lack thereof) is inferior.

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