Latin Immersion and a Love of the Classics

Governor's Latin Academy 2017

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Not having my phone for almost a month, being around 44 people as eager about Latin as I am whom I had never met, and delving into three weeks full of studying Latin intensely: these were the three expectations I had that consumed my mind (and frightened me quite a bit, might I say) the weeks leading up to the Governor’s Latin Academy. I somehow managed to put my worries aside the day of June 25th, the day of my arrival at Randolph-Macon College, and I was eager to dive into the intense program. After the first day, full of learning each other’s names, receiving several talks about the rules of Academy, and getting to know each other, everyone was exhausted. Would every day be chock-full of activities like this day? Would I be able to handle three whole weeks here if every day was going to be this intense? The answer to both those questions was: yes, sine dubio!

By only the third day, we already felt familiar with each other and connected. We could joke around with each other, ask for favors, and talk about most anything with anyone there at Academy. The teachers and RAs were understanding and brought energy to each activity.

The first week of Academy kicked off with elections. Several positions were open, and two people would hold each position. The campaigning process was super-fun, especially with all the “election graffiti”(pieces of construction paper with Roman-style abbreviations) posted around the dorms. I ran for the position of aedile and won with another eager student named Caroline. The job of the aedile was to write a blog post each night to recap the happenings of that particular day. Caroline and I had a blast writing a post each night, and we soon grew very close as a result.

The first week also came with beginning our six classes, which we had three of each day for 50 minutes each: de scelere, mores, Latina loquenda, Greek, Hellenistic art and architecture, and oderint dum metuant. In de scelere, we spent each class period reading and analyzing the gruesome, but exciting, play Thyestes by Seneca the Younger. In Mores, we learned about traditional Roman customs, like the naming system, occupations, class distinctions, etc., and even created our own Roman persona.  Latina loquenda frightened many of us, as this was our spoken Latin class, and many of us had not been able to say more than “salve.” We dove into a whole new language in our Greek class, but easily picked up on it because of its similarities to Latin. Hellenistic art and architecture revealed to us the many different elements and styles of art seen in the Hellenistic period. Finally, in oderint dum metuant, we focused on Nero’s Domus Aurea and looked at connections between art from a variety of artists and time periods. Each class  had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to learn more about everything once class ended.

We applied what we learned in these classes when we took our field trips to the Virginia State Capitol building, Agecroft Hall, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. We looked at columns and other architecture at the Virginia State Capitol building, saw similarities between Thyestes and Macbeth at Agecroft Hall, and enjoyed the Classical art we had learned about when we ventured to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Along the way, we enjoyed many guest speakers, experienced toga dinners, participated in a giant simulation of a Roman-style marketplace, during which we could speak ONLY in Latin, put on a hilarious play, which tantum Latine, called Miles Gloriosus, and did so many other activities that made each and every one of us fall more in love with the Classics, creating extremely strong bonds with each other.

My time at the Governor’s Latin Academy was really one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had, owing to how much I learned and grew and the friendships that I made while there. For more information, visit the Governor’s Latin Academy website (and even see our blog) at www.valatinacademy.com.