Sunday, December 09, 2012


The Tedious Old Gentleman with His Ablative Absolutes

Let Youth But Know: A Plea for Reason in Education, by Kappa [i.e. William Archer] (London: Methuen & Co., 1905), pp. 125-126:
My first Latin reading-book, I remember, was Caesar De Bello Gallico, Lib. I. I had heard vaguely of Julius Caesar as the first Roman who crossed the Channel, and found the Ancient Britons tastefully decorated with woad. Of his place in the history of Rome and of the world I knew nothing. What he was doing in Gaul was a mystery far beyond my ken. I laboriously construed his narrative at the rate of some fifteen lines a day, so that it had no continuity, no movement, no spark of interest for me. If any one had told me that it was in fact a most exciting story, how I should have stared! But no one challenged my incredulity with such a paradox. I plodded apathetically onward, little dreaming that the tedious old gentleman with his ablative absolutes was not only one of the greatest but one of the most romantic characters the world had ever seen.

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