HERBART once declared that the value of a classical education was to be measured by the extent to which antiquity was realized by the student. He implied that even to possess a full and accurate knowledge of the language and literature of Greece and Rome was of less account than to know the people themselves as living men and women, to understand their ways, and to enter into their thoughts.
Ólim is a small book of Latin plays and dialogues, written in the hopes that it may help to make Roman “antiquity” real. It may be used as a supplementary reading-book for the second or third year of Latin ; but it is really meant to be used for class-room acting, whereby Appius Claudius and the dissatisfied plebeians, Cato with his anti-feminist views, the schoolmaster whose noisy school tried the patience of his neighbour Martial, may be felt to live again. The scenes are laid at Rome or in Italy, except in “Vestis Sanguine Tíncta,” but even here Ovid has already Romanized for us a tale of Babylon. Livy has provided the sources of “Virgínia” and “Léx Oppia”; Catullus, Martial, and Virgil the poems on which the shorter dialogues are based, and to which they form an introduction.
It has sometimes been felt that many Latin school books are better adapted for boys than for girls ; perhaps Olim may claim to be primarily for girls. “Virginia,” “Passer Mortuus,” and “Vestis Sanguine Tíneta” have already been acted in the class-room; “Léx Oppia” was performed at Cambridge in September 1913 by some of the members of the Association for the Reform of Latin Teaching.
I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to Mr. Appleton, Perse School, Cambridge, for various helpful suggestions; to Dr. Rouse for some advice on a few points of language and “quantity”; and to Mr. C. L. Mainwaring, Whitgift School, Croydon, for his reading of the proofs and assistance in “hidden quantities."
- E. Ryle