My year 12 students sat their HSC Latin exam yesterday. I thought it was a bit of a tricky paper- particularly the comment questions on both Livy and Virgil. For anyone who's interested, here are two of the questions:
"Romulus" inquit, "Quirites, parens urbis huius, prima hodierna luce caelo repente delapsus se mihi obuium dedit. Cum perfusus horrore venerabundusque adstitissem petens precibus ut contra intueri fas esset, ""Abi, nuntia"" inquit ""Romanis, caelestes ita velle ut mea Roma caput orbis terrarum sit; proinde rem militarem colant sciantque et ita posteris tradant nullas opes humanas armis Romanis resistere posse."" Haec" inquit "locutus sublimis abiit." (Ab Urbe Condita I.16.6-8)
[‘Citizens of Rome’, he [Julius Proculus] said, ‘Romulus, father of this city, having come down suddenly from heaven, came to meet me at today’s first light. As I stood there, filled with dread and full of reverence, asking in my prayers that it might be right for me to gaze upon his face, he said, “Go forth, announce to the Romans that heaven wishes it to be so: that my Rome shall be the head of the whole world; accordingly they should foster the art of warfare, and they should know and accordingly hand down to posterity that no human power can resist Roman might.” Having spoken these things,’ he said, ‘he ascended on high.’]
[obviously the translation was not included in the exam- I've given it here for those unfamiliar with the passages]
Explain how the themes and literary techniques in this extract illustrate Livy's approach to writing history. (5 marks)
This seems to me a slightly odd choice of passage to choose to discuss Livy's approach to history, especially in terms of literary techniques. I suppose the main technique here is characterisation, which tells us a few things about Livy's approach to writing history- he wanted to write something entertaining, but also morally improving, and felt quite comfortable including (or indeed inventing) stories of dubious truthfulness. The passage also shows an unashamed patriotism, another important element in Livy's approach to writing history.
sed te qui vivum casus, age fare vicissim,
attulerint. pelagine venis erroribus actus
an monitu divum? an quae te fortuna fatigat,
ut tristis sine sole domos, loca turbida, adires?'
Hac vice sermonum roseis Aurora quadrigis
iam medium aetherio cursu traiecerat axem;
et fors omne datum traherent per talia tempus,
sed comes admonuit breviterque adfata Sibylla est:
'nox ruit, Aenea; nos flendo ducimus horas.
hic locus est, partis ubi se via findit in ambas:
dextera quae Ditis magni sub moenia tendit,
hac iter Elysium nobis; at laeva malorum
exercet poenas et ad impia Tartara mittit.
'Deiphobus contra: 'ne saevi, magna sacerdos;
discedam, explebo numerum reddarque tenebris.
i decus, i, nostrum; melioribus utere fatis.
'tantum effatus, et in verbo vestigia torsit.
["But come, tell me what chance has brought you here alive. Do you come driven by the wanderings of the sea, or on the advice of the gods? Or what fortune torments you that you approach these sad halls without sun, these troubled places?"
While they were speaking, Dawn in her rosy chariot was crossing the middle of her airy course; and perhaps they would have spent all the time allowed them in such things, but the Sybil cautioned them and spoke briefly to them: "Night rushes on Aeneas; we spend hours in weeping. Here is the place where the road divides itself in two parts; on the right it stretches beneath the battlements of the mighty Dis- by this route lies our journey to Elysium. But the left hand side leads to punishment for the evil, and sends them down to unholy Tartareus."
Deiphobus in reply says: "Do not be angry, great priestess; I shall withdraw, I shall fill up my number, and I shall return to the darkness. Go! Go, our great glory: enjoy a better fate."
So much he spoke, and as he spoke he turned in his tracks.]
Explain how Virgil uses contrast in this extract to emphasise the significance of this point in Aeneas' journey. (7 marks)
Aeneas' journey is obviously an improtant theme in book VI, and one that we spent a lot of time talking about, but I wasn't quite sure what the examiners were getting at with the idea of contrast. There are a few different things to say about contrast in this passage (day/night, living/dead, Elysium/Tartarus), but to make that into an answer worth seven marks is (I think) a bit of a stretch.