Latin students breathe new life into ancient classics

Breathing life into a dead language is the aim for students in Introduction to Latin Literature when  they stage public performances of a Roman comedy. The dialogue is presented in both Latin and English, giving the audience an opportunity to appreciate the Latin while following the story.

Cooks Crashing
Plautus' Aulularia (The Pot of Gold).

“The value of staging Plautus or Terence for Latin students is that they have the opportunity to put to use all the skills that they have been developing since Latin 101: listening, speaking, reading Latin, and their knowledge of Roman culture in an authentic Roman context,” according to Professor  John Gruber-Miller. “The students learn to work together on a project larger than any one of them could do alone and to exploit talents they never thought they had,” he adds.

Students collaborate to fully produce the show, in roles ranging from acting and directing to stage construction and costuming.  Becca Goldknopf, a classical studies and theatre double-major, served as costume crew chief and played a small part in the spring 2006 production of Plautus’ Poenulus.

“I had a great time and learned a lot about Roman comedy and theatre,” she says. “It was interesting to learn how wordplay works in another language.”

Jennifer Everson added that she hoped that the audience would discover  ” that there is a Classical Studies major on this campus, and that it is not dead, even though the language might be.”