promoting cultural heritage and conservation

Carpe Diem Alea Iacta Est

Q & A with Rachel Ash, co-host of our February 29 Latin Tweet Up #LTNL

1.  What made you want to learn to speak Latin?

I fell in love with Indiana Jones when I was pretty young–and I knew I wanted to grow up to be him.  I have always loved ancient cultures and the idea of unraveling a mystery about a people who lived thousands of years before now; when I was in college, I took Latin to fulfill a requirement for an ancient language in my major.  A semester later, Latin was my major.  I never looked back.

2.  Who is/was your favorite magister?

My favorite would have to be Laura Gibbs, who gave me permission to try to use Latin as a language and make mistakes as I did.  She let me explore Latin in a way that made it so much less intimidating than it could be sometimes in other classes and I learned much more quickly in that setting.  I am still in contact with her and she is as enthusiastic and inspiring as ever.

3.  What is your favorite Latin expression?

As cheesy as it is, I really value “carpe diem,” especially paired with “alea iacta est.”  I think that whatever life hands you, “the die is cast” and you have to move forward, so you might as well “seize the day” and make each day as great as you can.

4. What are the benefits to studying Latin in Rome?

Studying Latin in the birthplace of the language would be the most inspirational setting I could imagine.  How can you not want to live in Latin when you can see the touch of the Romans all around you?

5. What do you see as the future of colloquial Latin?

I think colloquial Latin is the future.  As we learn more about how the mind works, I think it can be no question that experiencing Latin as a language is the only way to truly gain any level of fluency, reading or otherwise.  I see the future opening with more avenues for speaking Latin — look at this wonderful thing we’ve found to do with Twitter.

6.  Many non-Latin scholars do not see the importance of Latin in the elementary school system. How would you respond?

Firstly, I will say that all elementary students should be given the gift of fluency in a second language, even if it is not Latin.  Latin, however, is a language that will awaken connections to all areas of a child’s life, both when he is young and when he is grown.  Literature, vocabulary, reading fluency, history, mythology, even math can become easier with a background in Latin due to its deep connection to the English language and its unique structure.  Starting your child’s life with Latin will make his educational career easier and his comprehension of his culture and others’ deeper.

Bonus Question:  If you could be any classical hero, who would you be and why?

Choosing a hero to be is tough.  I’m going to go outside the normal list of heroes and choose Antigone.  She meets a very dark end, but she is a really strong character in the Oedipus cycle–supportive of her father through his horrific fortune and a faithful sister who would not let the threat of death stop her from doing what she knew was right.  She is a great example to follow (though hopefully not into being buried alive).

~Rachel Ash has been a Latin teacher and an ardent supporter of spoken Latin for nine years.  Always looking for ways to support Latin and Latin teachers, Rachel began presenting at local and national conferences by the end of her second year of teaching and continues to do so; she also has served offices in local and national Classics organizations.  At current, Rachel is the Chair of the Excellence Through Classics Committee, a committee of the American Classical League dedicated to expanding and creating Classics programs at the elementary and middle school level.  Most recently Rachel presented at ACL‘s Annual Institute in Minnesota, where she and another teacher led a TPRS workshop; in March Rachel will be presenting at SCOLT’s regional conference over Asking a Story in Latin.  Rachel blogs at Pomegranate Beginnings, teaches North Gwinnett High School and  North Gwinnett Middle School.


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