A Rubric for Teaching Public Speaking as a Classicist

My learning goals when I teach public speaking are three, corresponding to the three main elements of the classical system, inventio, elocutio, and actio, that is, framing (coming up with arguments to suit a particular situation and audience), style (using memorable language), and delivery. These learning goals are expressed in the following rubric, which I ask students to fill out for each other as they listen to each others’ speeches. I then collect the feedback and synthesize it for each student. I don’t use the whole rubric right away, but use pieces of it as we discuss the three main elements in turn. I wrote a blog post for the SCS that explains my approach, and have also posted a syllabus for the 2020 version of the course, along with some talk prompts.  

1 = very poor; 2 = inadequate; 3 = barely adequate; 4 = ok; 5 = good; 6 = strong; 7 = outstanding


common ground articulated (not just “I think…”)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

evidence provided (but not too much)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

emotional connection with audience (but not too extreme)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             


correctness (words in common use, properly designate the things you want to say)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

clarity (meaning is immediately understandable, avoids excessive abstraction and euphemism)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

ornamentation (use of tropes and figures adds vitality and polish)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

propriety (parts make a whole and whole fits the occasion)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             


appropriate eye contact

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

good posture and gesture

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

effective voice modulation, emphasis, pausing

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

timing (not rushed, over or under time)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             




Hack Your Latin Supplemental: Learn the Word modo

Fontaine scripsit

Learn the word modo. It means “only” or “just,” so eam modo vidi means “I just saw her” and Tu modo ausculta means “You just listen” or “Just you listen” or “Just listen.” It’s common with imperatives.

aliqua exempla collegi

cum imperativo

accede huc modo. “Just come here” (Plaut. Cas. 965)

redi modo: non eris deceptus. “Just come back. You won’t be deceived.” (Plaut. Pseud. 1236)

tace modo ac sequere hac. “Just shut up and follow this way.” (Ter. Adelph. 281)

iam ipsa res dicet tibi. abi modo intro. “The facts will speak for themselves in a moment. Just go inside.” (Plaut. Epid. 714)

non modo…sed/verum etiam/quoque

non modo vinosus, sed virosus quoque. “not only wine-loving, but man-loving, too.” (P. Cornel. Scipio Aem. Afr., orationes 17.5)

non modo ipsa lepidast, commode quoque hercle fabulatur. “Not only is she herself pretty, she also speaks in a pleasant way.” (Plaut. Cist. 315)

non modo luctum mors patris attulit, verum etiam egestatem. “His father’s death brought not only sorrow, but also poverty.” (Cic. Pro Rosc. 13)

non modo his temporibus, sed etiam apud maiores nostros. “Not only in our time, but in the days of our ancestors.” (Cic. In Verr. II.1.106)

modo … modo

modo his, modo illis ex partibus. “now on one side, now on the other.” (Cic. DND 2.49)

tum in vicem modo his cibis, modo illis utendum est.  “Use is to be made of these foods in turn.” (Cels. De Med. 3.22.11)

modo hoc modo illud probabilius videtur. “At one moment one seems the more probable, and at another moment the other.” (Cic. Acad. 2.121)

modō > modus -i m.

ecce id nullō modō Latine exprimere possim. “I could not possibly express this in Latin.” (Sen. Ep. 58.7)

pecuniam magnam bonō modō invenire. “To obtain great wealth in an honorable way.” (Plin. NH 7.140)

eadem sed non eōdem modō facere. “To do the same things, but not in the same way.” (Sen. Ep. 18.4)

numquam ullō modō me potes deterrere. “You can never deter me in any way.” (Plaut. Amph. 559-60)

pecorum modō inulti trucidantur. “They would be butchered with impunity, like cattle.” (Liv. 25.16.19)

servorum modō praeter spem repente manumissorum. “Like slaves suddenly and unexpectedly manumitted.” (Liv. 39.26.8)

Hack Your Latin Supplemental: Future Less Vivid Conditions

Fontaine scripsit:

Remember the Future Less Vivid condition? Probably you were taught to translate it “should/would.” If so, get rid of it. The kids today don’t say that. They say “were to/would.” Example: Si tu mihi cervisiam des, libens accipiam means “If you were to give me a beer, I’d gladly take it.”

Aliqua exempla Plautiniana collegi:

Quadrigas si nunc inscendas Iovis atque hinc fugias, ita vix poteris ecfugere infortunium. “If you were to get onto Jupiter’s four-horse chariot now and flee from here, even so you’ll hardly be able to escape misfortune.” (Plaut. Amph. 450)

hercle ego huic die, si liceat, oculos ecfodiam lubens. “Well, if I were allowed to, I’d happily tear out this day’s eyes” (Plaut. Capt. 464)

si sciat noster senex fidem non esse huic habitam, suscenseat. “If our old man was to know you didn’t trust this one, he’d be angry.” (Plaut. Asin. 458)

Noctem tuam et vini cadum velim, si optata fiant. “I’d wish for a night with you and a jar of wine if my wishes came true.” (Plaut. Asin. 624)

Nauteam bibere malim, si necessum sit. “I’d rather drink bilge-water, if necessary” (Plaut. Asin. 895)

Si sit domi, dicam tibi. “If he were at home, I would tell you” (Plaut. Asin. 393)

si haec habeat aurum quod illi renumeret, faciat lubens. “If she had the money to pay him back, she’d do so happily. (Plaut. Bacch. 46)

si decem habeas linguas mutum esse addecet. “Even if you had ten tongues, you still ought to be silent.” (Plaut. Bacch. 128)

Reading Ovid Aloud for Homework

O pandemic, mother of invention. I have started assigning my Ovid students homework of submitting a recording of 10-15 lines, which we read at sight in class, read aloud rather than translated. Moodle makes this easy to submit. It’s amazing how readily you can tell if they understand. I added a part that involves picking five key words and looking them up the dictionary and explaining why they think they are important, which gets in an interpretive element consistent with my learning goals. But that’s not essential, of course. The results of the first round are so good, the ability to hear if they get Ovid’s tone so cool, the interpretations they gave in the written part so perceptive, and the homework so damn easy to grade, I had to share. I emphasized that I was not judging their pronunciation, but rather their pausing and emphasis as it reflects comprehension. I may never go back to grading written translations.

Here is the prompt:

  • Read the passage out loud in Latin with emphasis and pausing that reflect comprehension. Submit a recording.
  • Find the five most important or emphatic words in the passage in your view;
    • write the location in Lewis & Short where the contextually appropriate meaning of each if these five words is listed
    • give the contextually appropriate translation of these five words
    • explain briefly why you believe each word is important in the context

And here is the example I provided:

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.1–4.

In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas          

corpora; di, coeptis (nam vos mutastis et illas)    

adspirate meis primaque ab origine mundi          

ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carmen!

nova: “new” (LS novus I.A), or “strange” (LS novus I.B): this is the first significant word, and separated a long way from the word it modifies, corpora, which gives it emphasis. What he has to say will be “new” and/or “strange.” Exciting!

mutatas: “changed” (LS muto II.A.1), going with formas. This whole poem is about change, so it makes sense to foreground this word in the first line. mutatas formas is pretty much Latin for the Greek title Metamorphoses (“Transformations”).

adspirate: “to be favorable to, to favor, assist (the figure taken from a fair breeze)” + dat. (LS aspiro I.A.2), governing coeptis meis (“the work I have begun”). Ovid is calling on the gods to favor his enterprise, so this is a key word, emphasized by being first in the line. It’s imperative, looking back to the vocative di in line 2. Tone is confident (?).

perpetuum: “continuous, unbroken, uninterrupted” (LS perpetuus I.A). Ovid’s song will be “continuous” and extend all the way from the origin of the world to his own time. Very ambitious! Also, if you’ve read the Metamorphoses you know it’s loosely organized, with one story after another in a continuous stream. So he may be giving us a heads up about that.

A few notes:

  • I grade these on a 1-10 scale, and they take under 5 minutes each to grade.
  • The due date is midnight on the day after we read the lines at sight in class. I don’t want it to get stale. Great way to review and reinforce, I think.
  • The students have as a textbook Peter Jones’ superb Reading Ovid. This helps the students by giving them context, interpretive summaries, vocabulary, macrons on the Latin, and excellent interpretive notes. I frigging love this book. This assignment asks them to go beyond it by investigating in the dictionary and saying what they think.

Is Owen and Goodspeed Worth Saving?

portrait of William Bishop Owen

William Bishop Owen

Generations of beginning Homerists have been asked to purchase the little book Homeric Vocabularies by William Bishop Owen and Edgar Johnson Goodspeed. I acquired it in college, and later, when I came to teach Homer, I also asked my students to buy it. It’s a mainstay. The blisteringly critical review by Wm. W. Baker in Classical Review of 1908, however, has convinced me, however, that it is a piece of junk from the student’s point of view. Originally published in 1906, it has been frequently reprinted, and is currently published by the University of Oklahoma Press in a revised edition, copyright 1969. It has lists of words in Homer, organized by frequency. The very first page has an impressive list of verbs occurring 500 to 2,000 times. There are 13 of them, all the greatest hits:

list of 13 common Greek verbs

The 13 most common verbs in Homer, from Owen and Goodspeed (1906 edition), p. 3.

Other lists include verbs that occur 200 to 500 times, down to ones that occur 10 to 25 times. Noun lists give those occurring 500 to 1,000 times, down to 10 to 25 times. There are (combined) lists of common pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions.

Baker first questions the whole approach of learning vocabulary from lists. Probably better to read fast and widely, he says. True enough. But if you must have lists, at least make the lists in a way that gives the student needed help and doesn’t mislead or make the student’s life more difficult. The review (full text below) points out a number of flaws, only some of which were rectified in the 1969 revision. The main version available on the internet is from 1909, and all these criticisms apply.

  • Greek words are not associated with English definitions, which are given only in the back of the book. They should be in parallel columns. Duh! This was fixed in the 1969 revision.
  • Related words, and even different forms of the same words, are widely separated (e.g. τανύω, τείνωμ, τιταίνω, which are nos. 151, 275, and 504 respectively).
  • Words of similar form but different meaning are not juxtaposed so the student may be put on guard not to confuse them.
  • English definitions were haphazardly taken (without attribution) from the English version of Authenrieth’s Homeric Dictionary (1891, now on Perseus), which was old-fashioned and clunky even back in the day. The results are frequently misleading, or just laughable (ἤαβάω, “Am at my youthful prime”).
  • Definitions for parallel forms of the same word (e.g. λανθάνω λήθω) are inconsistent.
  • Needless synonyms make memorization harder. ἔγχος, “Spear, lance.” Why spear and lance?
  • Attic forms, with which most students are more familiar, are not provided for comparison, for words like πρήσσω and θηέομαι. The same goes for words in which Attic meanings vary substantially from Homeric ones, like φοβέω, ἀρκέω, and ἀσκέω.

When I think how many brilliant, dedicated Homerists there are in the world, all the monographs and commentaries that have been published in the last 100 years, the enormous progress made in understanding Homer at an advanced scholarly level, and how no one has thought it worthwhile to create a more effective replacement for this potentially so useful book, it seems to sum up something basic to the culture of classical scholarship. The mind especially boggles at how easy it would be to solve all these problems and add countless improvements in a digital environment. I’m hoping to get my Homer students this spring interested in collaborating on an overhaul for DCC. Ok, here is the full text of Baker’s review in The Classical Review, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Jun., 1908), pp. 128–129:

Homeric Vocabularies: Greek and English Word-Lists for the Study of Homer. By WILLIAM BISHOP OWEN, Ph.D., and EDGAR JOHNSON GOODSPEED, Ph.D. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1906. Pp. viii+ 62. 50 cents, net.

To those who believe in the systematic study of vocabularies, the title of this little book has a hopeful sound. And doubtless the book itself may fulfil its purpose reasonably well in the hands of many teachers. Yet it seems as if it might easily have been made much more useful. The object of such a list should be to enable the student to fix the meaning of as many important words as possible in his mind with the least possible labour. And this can hardly be accomplished with the present book. First of all its arrangement strikes one as faulty. The Greek words and the English are in separate halves of the book, nor do the Greek and their meanings even occupy corresponding places on their respective pages. Much less laborious, certainly, for the learner would have been an arrangement of both on the same page in parallel columns. The words are further separated into three groups, verbs, nouns, and, thirdly, the other parts of speech together, and in each group its members are separated into a half dozen lists according to the frequency of their occurrence in Homer. This plan has some advantages, but, on the other hand, the labour of memorizing is unquestionably much increased: related words and even different forms of the same word are widely separated (e.g. τανύω, τείνω, τιταίνω, are Nos. 151, 275, 504 respectively); nor are words of similar form but different meaning placed in proper juxtaposition so that the student may be put on his guard and not confuse them.

The choice of meanings, too, is not above reproach. They are, we may say, almost entirely chosen from the English translation of Autenrieth’s Homeric Dictionary, as but a brief glance will show, and although meanings of words may not be subject to copyright, it might have been well if the editors had acknowledged their indebtedness. Unfortunately, also, they are not always chosen wisely. For example, τελέθω is ‘Am become, assume,’ where ‘assume’ is worse than useless; so with πειρητίζω, ‘Test, sound.’ For τρωπάω (a word which, so far as Ebeling’s Lexicon shows, does not occur the ten times the editors claim for it) we have ‘Change, vary’—entirely unsuitable meanings except for a single passage. Again one might reasonably expect to find identical meanings given for parallel forms of the same word. But quite the opposite is often the case. Thus λανθάνω is ‘Escape notice, forget,’ λήθω is only ‘Escape notice’; κεδάννυμι is ‘ Scatter,’ σκεδάννυμι, and σκίνδαμαι, ‘Scatter, disperse,’ for no apparent reason. And in general why should so many useless synonyms be given? Why should ἔγχος be ‘Spear, lance’ or θύρη ‘Door, gate’? It seems obvious that unless a word has more than one distinct signification, only a single meaning should be set down. For if the meanings are to be committed absolutely to memory one is easier to learn than two; if not, the method of wide and rapid reading would seem preferable to fooling with a word-list. Among other meanings susceptible of improvement are those of μεγάθυμος, ‘Great-hearted,’—a mere school-boy’s rendering—and ἡβάω, ‘Am at my youthful prime,’—enough to make even a school-boy laugh. All of which goes to show that the meanings must have been selected in a very haphazard fashion.

Additional information would be desirable in some cases: thus the meaning of active and middle of such verbs as ἅπτω and λανθάνω ought to have been differentiated. To have the Attic forms given in words like πρήσσω and θηέομαι would be helpful, though it may not be necessary; so also the Attic meaning, where this varies widely from the Homeric, as in φοβέω, ἀρκέω, and ἀσκέω. And none of these additions would overload the book.

I have noticed a few misprints: δύνω occurs twice (Nos. 46 and 201, and with varying meanings in the two places); No. 407, κορέω, ‘Sweep ‘—a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον— should be κορέννυμι, ‘Satisfy’; at No. 474, for ‘Cover,’ read ‘Cower’; at No. 521, for ‘place,’ read ‘plan’; noun Νo. 198 should be defined ‘olive-oil,’ not ‘olive, oil.’


Haverford College

Rules of thumb for commentary writing

Our commentaries are akin the the Bryn Mawr Commentaries: for first-time readers, whether students or advanced scholars who want to read the text expeditiously. Commentary authors are asked to keep the following considerations/rules-of-thumb in mind:

1. Respect the reader’s time
Stick to what a curious reader would want and need to know to help understand and appreciate the text at hand. Tangentially related material and ancillary texts can be handled in an introduction or in a close reading essay.

2. Look out for what is assumed
Readers frequently need to know what’s not there, or rather what’s there but invisible: the omitted antecedent of a relative pronoun, half of a compound verb form, or the explanation of some constitutional nicety, religious custom, or mythological detail that the author takes as common knowledge.

3. Use jargon only for a good reason
Technical terms are ok, but as a tool, not a substitute for explanation. Explain in a way that doesn’t simply rely on everybody being fully familiar with your own favorite terminology, at least the first time through.

4. Go easy on cross-references
Only use a cross-reference when it’s genuinely important for comprehension, or to spell out what is assumed. Avoid especially untranslated parallel passages.

5. Elucidate first, observe second
First make clear what is going on, whether by judicious translation, paraphrase, rearranging the word order. Then move to whatever comment you would like to make.

6. Look out for what is typical or atypical
It is sometimes useful to point out what is unusual or what is standard, what is distinctive or what is cliché, what is central or what is peripheral, interesting word order, or striking word choice. 

7. Separate interpretation from elucidation
When it comes to serving first-time readers, even expert ones, literary interpretation is out of place. If you advance a clever observation in a note that doesn’t help elucidate the language itself, you are likely to alienate rather than to enlighten. And there’s not enough time in a note to make a literary argument effectively, anyway. Save that for a close reading essay.

8. When the text makes no sense when translated literally, translate it idiomatically
Many commentators on classical texts see translation in a note as dishonest, allowing the reader to cheat. Think of it instead as modeling the sort of careful, close translation you’d like to see: not over-literal pseudo-English, but the real, satisfying mots justes.

9. Save space by linking to stable resources
Link to DCC grammars for grammatical points, to Logeion for lexicography, to Wikipedia for literary devices, to Perseus for classical texts, to Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology for those topics, and to Pleiades for geography. But don’t link to a news article or blog post that’s likely to be gone in a year or two. 

10. Model close reading practices
Humanists and scholars read slowly and carefully, alive to the precise meanings of words. They appreciate the beauty of the style. They read critically, aware of what’s left out, what’s partial or unfair. They want to take something away and apply it to life. The other rules flow from this central purpose.

Chinese resources for the study of Latin

As readers of this site will know, the study of Latin attracts considerable interest in China, and many Chinese students studying abroad are learning the language as well. Until recently this had to be done almost entirely through English. An incoming first year student to Dickinson from Guangzhou is being forced to defer college for one year thanks to the pandemic. She asked me if I knew of any resources through which she could get started with her Latin during her unexpected downtime. I put out some feelers and received an excellent response. Here are some resources, some of them older and well known, others brand new.

Professor Li Hui (Rosina) at Beijing Foreign Studies University has translated Oerberg’s Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata:

  1. Familia Romana (《拉丁语综合教程1·课本》) in which all the contents of the original book have been conserved. For the convenience of Chinese students, we added the recording of text reading and the Key to Exercises.
  2. Latine Disco (《拉丁语综合教程1·学生用书》)contains Colloquia personarum, Enchiridion discipulorum, Exercitia Latina, Phonetica Latina, Syntaxis etc. 

Grammars: Gu Zhiyin has translated Allen & Greenough.

Cicero dixit, written by Liu Xun is also a very useful grammar book.

All of these books are available on JD.com and Taobao.

Shanghai Normal University is offering a summer Latin course in Late August:  (Application deadline: July 15)

Of course the DCC core Greek and Latin vocabularies exist in Chinese translation. More advanced students will want to visit Dickinson Classics Online, which contains various resources for Chinese speaking students of the Greco-Roman classics.

Please let us know in the comments if you are aware of other things. Thanks!


Videos on Homeric Dialect and Scansion

A few years ago I made some videos using the Showme app about the Homeric dialect and Homeric metrics. They are somewhat buried on the Showme site, so here are the two series, first on dialect, second on metrics:

Homeric Dialect 1 augments and endings: http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=JJqlpjc 

Homeric Dialect 2 the article: http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=C1XKW92

Homeric Dialect 3 verbs: http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=E9vmvB2

Reading Homer 1 Long and Short: http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=y2Su4LQ

Reading Homer 2 Quantity Exceptions: http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=0ArMTPU

Reading Homer 3 Dactylic Hexameter: http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=7trqGTg 

I think I made a fourth installment for the grammar series about particles, but I cannot find that on the Showme site. Hope you find these useful!

In the Tracks of Alexander

[update 5/4/2017:  the apparent mistake of Alexander going to Bangladesh derives from an error in the Pleiades database. https://pleiades.stoa.org/places/59910 Malli is described as “An ancient Indian people that settled at the confluence of the rivers Hydaspes, Acesines, and Hydraotes.” These are indeed the folks Alexander terrorized in the Mallian Campaign. But the current location in Pleiades has them way off near the Padma. They should be much further west, in the Indus valley. I have alerted the good folks at Pleiades to this.]

I got a nice response on Twitter to a photograph of a composite of Google Earth maps made by my students of the expedition of Alexander the Great. (People were too kind to point out that some of the students thought Alexander made it all the way to the Padma river in what is now Bangladesh).

My students’ Google Earth maps of the expedition of Alexander, as seen from space.

A.M. Christensen (@AM_Christensen) asked me to post the assignment that generated these maps, and so here it is. I have done this for several years, and the reaction from students ranges from “Google Earth is infuriating” to “That was the best assignment we did–time consuming but really valuable.” I was on the point of cutting it out of the Ancient Worlds on Film class when a former student in that class convinced me to put it back in. 

As with most unorthodox assignments it requires careful preparation and explanation well in advance, and a willingness to be flexible when technical issues crop up. For me this works because it is in sync with my learning goals: learning about the ancient world on the basis of primary sources. To do well a student must summarize and tell the significance material based on the reading, and cite the sources–by no means easy tasks for the average non-classics major in a general education classical studies course.

I spent some class time demoing Google Earth and showing them the magic of Pleiades, which has readily downloadable .kml files of the places.  (Pro tip: “Tyre” is not findable on Pleiades. You have to know to search for Tyros.) One problem is that the dates of events are not always indicated in the books they are reading. So I pointed out the very full chronology available on Wikipedia. I have learned to be very, very clear about the necessity of having the entire folder highlighted before you save your .kmz. This is by far the most common problem. Second to that are Google Earth crashes, in which some students lose work. Make sure they save their stuff and back it up. I also pitch this as a way to take notes on the reading in Arrian. Pick a couple spots in every night’s reading, write down their significance, and making the map will be easier when the time comes.

Here is the whole 3-week timeline from start to finish:

4/10       Alexander (2004)  no reading                        

4/12       Watch Alexander: Director’s Cut

4/14       Youth; Aristotle; sack of Thebes   Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 1–32; Plutarch, Life of Alexander, sections 11–14.

4/17       Granicus → Fall of Tyre    Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 33–69. Plutarch, Life of Alexander, sections 15–17 and 21–23.

4/19       Egypt → Gaugamela; Death of Darius      Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 70–93. Plutarch sections 27–28, 33–34, 36–40, and 42–43.

4/21       Central Asia; Roxane      Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 94–113. Plutarch sections 45 and 47.

4/24       India; the Gedrosia desert    Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 114–148. Plutarch, sections 64–67.

4/26       Susa weddings; death of Hephaestion      Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 149–173. Quiz on Alexander.

4/28     Alexander Map assignment due

Ok, here is the assignment. The grading rubric follows.

In the Tracks of Alexander the Great

The intent of this assignment is to familiarize you with the geography and chronology of Alexander’s conquests through the making a Google Earth map of them. It will act as a kind of combined map and timeline. It is due by noon Friday, April 28, 2017, via Moodle.

You will need to download Google Earth to your computer. A tutorial by Google on how to create a map with place marks is here: http://www.google.com/earth/learn/beginner.html#placemarks-and-tours&tab=placemarks-and-tours

 . . . and see below for a step by step guide.

Using Romm’s book Alexander the Great (which contains the writings of Arrian) and the account of Plutarch in his Life of Alexander, create a series of place marks and a route to guide you through Alexander’s expedition. For each place, create a place mark, name it, and then write annotations in the description field. Each annotation should contain:

  1. a Pleiades link
  2. a brief discussion of your view of the significance of the place, based on your reading in Arrian and Plutarch.
  3. specific source citations of Arrian (book and chapter) and/or Plutarch (chapter) from which you got your information, along with any other sources you used
  4. an image of any relevant landscape, archaeological remains, artifacts, or an artist’s reconstructions from this place, with a title and specific photo/artist credit.

There should be at least one or two placemarks from every major stage of the expedition, a minimum of 20 total. Observe that the notes in Romm, and your translation of Plutarch’s Life of Alexander (Greek Lives pp. 448 ff.) specify dates for many incidents. The actual look of the tour is up to you, and you should feel free to add whatever enhancements you like. When you have finished making your place marks, put them in a folder and save the folder (it will save as a file with the suffix .kmz).


  • Make sure when you save your work that the whole folder is highlighted, not just one place.
  • Give the folder a name that includes your own last name.

Submit the .kmz file via Moodle. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE to creating and saving placemarks:

  1. Download Google Earth: https://www.google.com/earth/
  2. Under the “Add” menu select Add Folder. Name the new folder with your name and Alexander’s Route or something similar. The folder you just created will now show up in the Temporary Places list at the left, and look something like this:
  3. Add a placemark: Either search in the search bar of Google Earth to find a place, or (more accurate) go to Pleiades and search for a place and download their ready-made placemark. On Pleiades, when you find the relevant site, scroll down to the list of “Alternate representations”:

Click on “KML.” (This stands for “Keyhole Markup Language,” the file type used by Google Earth.) Download and open that file and it will create a placemark for you in Google Earth at the precise location you want. (You may have to delete some extra placemarks included by Pleiades as associated places.) Make sure that your placemark is within the folder you created earlier.

1 placemarks must be included under the right folder or they will not be saved in the project when you save at the end.

  1. Edit the placemark: Right click on the placemark and select Properties.

You can change the name to whatever you want, add text, links, images, and change the look of the placemark itself by clicking on the small icon at the top right of the Edit placemark window.

Here is an example that has been edited to include an image, with information about that image, and some short annotations with source citations. Your annotations should be longer, several sentences.

  1. Create the Route. Click on the “Add Path” icon at the top of the screen

Name the path, and before closing that window, draw the path you want. Consult the maps in Romm’s book as you draw the paths. From the Properties window you can style the path, giving it any width you want.

  1. Save the file. Make sure that you have the whole folder highlighted, not just a single place within it, when you save. Go to File > Save > Save Place As and save the file on your computer as a .kmz. Submit that .kmz file via Moodle. You are done!


20+ Places accurately identified?  
Route accurately marked?  
Significance of the spots clearly explained?  
References to sources included?  
Every major stage included?  
Dates included?  
Pleides uri included?  
Images included?  


Classics Podcasts

[Note Jan 16, 2017: I am happy to report that my list of classically themed podcasts has now been blown out of the water by David Meadows, aka @rogueclassicist]

Surprisingly few academics have learned how to podcast – but it’s a great way to reach a wider audience. A recent article in The Guardian makes the case for the medium, and offers some how-to advice:

Todd Landman, “Podcasting is perfect for people with big ideas. Here’s how to do it.”  The Guardian January 13, 2016.  https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2016/jan/13/podcasting-is-perfect-for-big-ideas

Here is a list of classics podcasts ( I would appreciate notice if you know of others!):

Jessica Hughes and Elton Marker, Classics Confidential. Interviews with classical scholars on various subjects, since 2010. The producers are members of the Department of Classical Studies at The Open University.  https://classicsconfidential.co.uk/2016/12/12/senses/

Ryan Stitt, The History of Greece Podcast. By a self-confessed “enthusiastic amateur.”  http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/

Rhannon Evans, Emperors of Rome. Dr. Evans is Lecturer in Ancient Mediterranean Studies at La Trobe University, Melbourne https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/emperors-of-rome/id850148806

Alessandro Conti, Semones Raedarii. https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/sermonesraedarii “Podcast Latinum incisum dum autoraedam moderor. Loquor prolixe et mendose de arte docendi. Interdum etiam fabulas narro.”

Jeff Wright, Trojan War: The Podcast. “History’s most awesome epic.” Retelling of Trojan War mythology with comment on matters mythological.  http://trojanwarpodcast.com/

Chris Francese, Latin Poetry Podcast. http://blogs.dickinson.edu/latin-poetry-podcast/  a series of short Latin passages, discussed, translated, and read aloud.

Lantern Jack, Ancient Greece Declassified. http://greecepodcast.com/ “a podcast about making the Classics accessible to everyone.” “Lantern Jack” is a graduate student in ancient philosophy.

Alison Innes and Darrin Sunstrum, mythTake. https://mythtake.blog/ Scholarly informed discussions of mythological heroes and topics. Alison Innes is a journalist with an MA in classics from Brock University, in Ontario. They also maintain a list of humanities podcasts.

Nowadays podcasting is a highly developed and diverse medium, widely enjoyed as recreation be people as they exercise, walk, travel, go about housework routines, etc. This is an audience hungry for new content, eager to explore new ideas, and interested in all sorts of things. For my podcast I did a series of 5–10 minute recordings on Latin metrics, close readings of interesting passages, and whatever I was reading or thinking about at the time. I felt that the podcast medium was ideal to discuss Latin pronunciation and metrics, which are passions of mine, but also to bring across Latin poetry as a performance art. I never focused on grammar or translation as I would have in a classroom setting, but tried to foster appreciation and aesthetic enjoyment. I kept the tone informal, warm, and conversational. My model has always been Karl Haas, the classical music radio host, who used to make the world of classical music sound like the most welcoming, wonderful place, and who could effortlessly pronounce half a dozen languages. With him you always felt like you were getting the benefit of a lifetime of experience and wisdom in the presence of a true humanist.

There are now a variety of podcasts on classical topics, many especially on Greek mythology and history, and Roman history. None of them is overwhelmingly successful, or up to the Karl Haas level, and suffice it to say there is room for a lot of innovation and improvement in this medium.

I’m a journalism student from Australia, who also learnt Latin in high school (read at poetry competitions too) and I have desperately been trying to find someone who still reads it. Your site is perfect.

I have been teaching myself Latin over the last 8 years and I really enjoy your podcasts! I hope we’ll be getting some new updates soon!

Many of the comments I got on my podcasts were urging me to get off my duff and produce more, or noting problems in download. This is not the place to get into the mechanics of podcasting. Suffice it to say that it is well within the technological competence of most classicists, and there are several good how-to guides to be found on the internet. The most gratifying aspect of podcasting is that it gets you in touch with a whole audience of like-minded enthusiasts and autodidacts out there who really appreciate hearing from somebody with some expertise. They often show their appreciation by leaving comments or voting in various podcast awards competitions.

Success in the medium, as with much teaching, requires a conversational style, a sense of humor, and an ability to tell stories. It’s important to have fun with it, not to be turgid or pedantic.

Podcasting principles:

  • Be conversational. Imagine talking to your mom.
  • Tell good stories.
  • Be enthusiastic. Enjoy yourself.
  • Listen to other podcasts.
  • Always respond promptly to comments.
  • Buy a Snowball microphone ($50 US)

If you have thoughts about what makes an effective podcast, or know of any classics ones that I missed, please leave a comment!