CAPN Lectures

This is a list of lectures that CAPN members are willing to present. If you are interested in inviting a lecturer please contact him/her directly. A posting on this list implies that the speaker is willing to lecture at a CAPN area school without expectation of honorarium. It is expected that the host institution will cover the travel and hospitality expenses of the speaker. Some money is available from the CAPN general fund to defray some of these expenses. Please contact the currrent CAPN President for this information.

Lecturer: Stephen A. Berard, Ph.D., Wenatchee Valley College
1300 Fifth Street, Wenatchee, WA 98801

Title: Talks and/or Workshops on the Theory and Practice of “Perennial Latin”

I. Theory
For the vast majority of its extremely long history, Latin has been used as a medium of communication on the basis of all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In the Roman Republic and Empire, it was the mother tongue of many and a second language for many others. Since then, in widely varying degrees, it was used as a second language by churchmen, scholars, and the well-educated. Beginning in the late 17th century, decisions were made, first by the Jansenists and Jesuits and later by others, to teach Latin more as a tool for reading certain texts than as a full-fledged language. How crucial these decisions were for the downfall of Latin as a language can be debated. In any case, by the middle of the 20th century students were being rushed through Latin grammar in the equivalent of one college year and then exposed to classical literature of increasing difficulty in the second and following years. Latin thus gained the reputation of being an extremely difficult language, since students who had been taught Latin only cursorily and passively ended up “decoding” the texts rather than reading them in anything approaching a natural way. For this and other reasons, Latin enrollments plummeted. Modern linguistic research and experience tell us that the best way to internalize a language is to use it to express one’s own life, interests, and desires. Frequent and personal practice of this sort eventually imparts a sense of “ownership” (the next best thing to “nativeness”) which is especially important in acquiring a second language. Correspondingly, Latinists who, at a later step, learn to speak Latin consistently find that their reading improves in both speed and depth of comprehension. Nowadays, most people learn to speak Latin after having learned it in the currently “traditional” way, but more and more desire to teach their students Latin in a natural way from the beginning. The main challenge here is in the current structure of the Latin curriculum at the national level. There are some ways to circumvent this, to say nothing of instituting the sorely needed general modernizing reforms. Unlike ancient/ classical Greek, the Latin language has been very actively cultivated throughout the ages. There is an abundance of useful vocabulary that can be used without violating the character of the classical language.

II. Practice
Most interested people still learn according to the unnatural “decoding” method and then use spoken-Latin conferences, dinners, and other such events to activate the speaking-and-listening side. In the Pacific Northwest, I organize two such activities: the nine-day Conventiculum Vasintoniense,1 held annually in the early summer, and the Commorationes Seattlenses,2 held on five Saturdays throughout each academic year. Every year there are more of these in the USA and abroad. In addition to our local events, there are now conventicula of various sorts in Kentucky, California, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts, New York state, and Michigan. If we are eventually able to redesign the curriculum, such events will serve more and more to support the more naturally functioning curriculum, much the way junior-year-abroad programs supplement modern foreign language curricula. I can organize and direct workshops or demonstrations of spoken Latin, whether for a general audience or specifically for Latin teachers. I have done this for the Junior Classical League.


Lecturer: Andrew L. Goldman, Gonzaga University

Title: From Phrygian Capital to Roman Fort: Recent Excavations at Gordion (Turkey)

Excavations have taken place at the ancient city of Gordion (Turkey) since 1900, and they have uncovered remains from over 5000 years of human activity at this remarkable site. Most famous as the home of the semi-legendary king Midas and the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordion Knot, Gordion was the capital of the Phrygian kingdom (ca. 11th to 7th century BC) and held sway over a large portion of central Turkey. Subsequently conquered by the Lydians, the Persians, the Macedonians and the Galatians, the site eventually became home to a small village during the Roman period, after the emperor Augustus annexed the region (known as Galatia) around 25 BC.
Little is currently known about the physical, economic and social organization of Galatia’s towns and villages, the rural sites at which 90% of Galatia’s population once lived. Excavations atop Gordion’s Citadel Mound between 1950 and 1973 uncovered portions of the small Roman-period town, and subsequent analyses of finds from that settlement and its associated cemeteries have confirmed that it was a moderately prosperous Anatolian community occupied between the early 1st to early 5th centuries AD. Unresolved questions regarding aspects of the town’s physical plan, the precise span of its occupation, and its function(s) led to the initiation of a new ten-week excavation project in 2004 and 2005. Work concentrated upon three separate building complexes, each identified during the earlier excavations and located in a different sector of the town. Among the new finds were the remains of Roman weapons and armor, the first of their type to be discovered in Turkey and confirmation that the town served during the 1st century AD as a minor military post.

Title: They Died With Their Boots On: The Roman Hobnail Burials at Gordion, Turkey

Burial practices tend to vary widely between disparate cultures, and this is perhaps nowhere more evident than at the site of Gordion, located in central Turkey approximately 95 km. southwest of modern Ankara. Situated at the confluence of two rivers and at the nexus of several ancient trade routes, Gordion was occupied almost continuously from the Early Bronze Age to Medieval times. Among the wide variety of burial types are Hittite pithos burials, the great tumuli of the Phrygian kings and nobles, simple Lydian and Persian inhumations, Hellenistic chamber tombs, wooden coffins of the Roman period, and Byzantine cist graves.
Three Roman cemeteries were excavated at the site between 1950 and 1994, and the objects and skeletal remains recovered from these necropoleis have helped to shape our understanding of Roman life at this rural town. Perhaps the most enigmatic of all the burial types are those containing the remains of hobnail boots, found in nearly a third of the total Roman period graves currently known. This burial type, dating from the 1st to 3rd century A.D. and common to sites along the Rhine and Danube frontiers, are unattested elsewhere in Anatolia. Their appearance at Gordion, in the graves of men, women and children, represents an intriguing phenomenon. Such boots have often been found at military sites, a fact which led the original excavators to hypothesize that either veterans or soldiers lived at Gordion during the Roman Empire. New excavations at the site in 2004 and 2005 have now settled this issue: the discovery of Roman weapons, armor and a barracks building have provided conclusive evidence that soldiers inhabited this small settlement. Indeed, as the chance discovery in 1997 of a Roman auxiliary soldier’s tombstone has shown, at least some of these men never made it home alive from their post on the Anatolian plateau, dying with their boots on.

Lecturer: Owen Ewald, Seattle Pacific University

I have some podcasts up at iTunes University under the Seattle Pacific University rubric that are available for free viewing or could serve as "samples" to let other departments decide whether they would like a more interactive version of the talk. The topics already treated are:

  1. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh: ancient commodities and trade, ideology, and theology using the Gospel of Matthew as an end point.
  2. Keep It Short: Writing and Teaching History in the Roman Empire: Roman historiography, education, and epitomization.
  3. What Are You Laughing At: Humor in the Ancient World: highlights of ancient humor from Homer to medieval Paris, both practice (Aristophanes, Plautus) and theory (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero).
  4. The Myth of Orpheus: Love and Music: the persistence of the Orpheus myth, including Boethius, opera, Rilke, and Black Orpheus.
  5. Why Vergil Matters: Vergil and the reception of the Aeneid, including Late Antique mosaics and LeGuin's Lavinia.
  6. Augustine's Journey: Augustine within the context of the urban spaces of the Roman Empire
  7. Real Beauty in Plato: Sifting the Hippias Major: evaluating the definitions of beauty in the Hippias Major in light of modern psychology and evolutionary biology.
  8. Reading the Persian Empire: views of the Persian Empire from Persian, Greek, and Jewish perspectives.


Go back to main CAPN page