The conditions of Latin teaching have changed much in the last fifteen or twenty years. Once the subject was rigidly required, and too often the requirement was ruthlessly administered, without regard for the difficulties encountered by the student, and without any particular care to enlist his interest. Now the gradual shift to an elective basis necessitates certain adjustments.
It has long been recognized that the transition from the conventional beginners’ book to Caesar is too abrupt; and there has been more or less agitation for an extension of “beginning Latin” to the end of the third half-year, thus making room for a considerable amount of graded reading before the first Latin author is seriously taken up. Happily this reform seems at length in a fair way to be realized, as indicated by the recent action of the College Entrance Examination Board. It is hoped that the change will result in a large decrease in the excessive mortality that used to mark the end of the first year's work.
Long experience has led the writer to believe that, at the beginning of the third year, there is need of a somewhat similar change of procedure; for it is likely that Cicero will long continue to be the outstanding feature of the reading of that year, and the transition from Caesar is by no means an easy one.
The student who passes directly from one author to the other is confronted simultaneously by three difficulties: (1) an unfamiliar vocabulary, (2) long and complicated sentence structure, and (3) thought and content rather remote from his own experience and very hard to grasp when the reading progresses at the rate of a few lines a day.