My year 12 class sat their extension Latin exam yesterday. Their set theme was philosophy, and we have been reading selections from Lucretius' De rerum natura III and various works of Cicero, loosely connected by the idea of 'the soul'. I personally found it a pretty tricky theme to get a handle on, but I was quite pleased with the actual exam.
Again for anyone interested here's one of the questions they had to answer:
Praeterea gigni pariter cum corpore et una
crescere sentimus pariterque senescere mentem.
nam velut infirmo pueri teneroque vagantur
corpore, sic animi sequitur sententia tenuis.
inde ubi robustis adolevit viribus aetas,
consilium quoque maius et auctior est animi vis.
post ubi iam validis quassatum est viribus aevi
corpus et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus,
claudicat ingenium, delirat lingua, labat mens;
omnia deficiunt atque uno tempore desunt.
ergo dissolui quoque convenit omnem animai
naturam, ceu fumus, in altas aeris auras,
quandoquidem gigni pariter pariterque videmus
crescere et, ut docui, simul aevo fessa fatisci.
(Lucretius, De rerum natura III.445-458)
[What's more, we see that the mind is born at the same time as the body, and matures alongside it and grows old at the same time. For just as boys wander around with their weak and fragile bodies, so the thoughts of their minds are correspondingly fragile. Then, when age ripens their physical strength, their wisdom too is greater, and the power of their minds is increased. Later, when one’s body has been shaken by the mighty power of age, and the limbs droop with their powers blunted, the intellect limps along, the tongue raves and the mind totters. Everything breaks down and fails at the same time. And so it comes about that the whole nature of the soul is also dissolved, just like smoke on the high breezes of the air, since we see that it is born at the same time, at the same time grows and, as I have taught, likewise becomes weak, worn out by old age.]
O vitae philosophia dux, o virtutis indagatrix expultrixque vitiorum! quid non modo nos, sed omnino vita hominum sine te esse potuisset? Tu urbis peperisti, tu dissipatos homines in societatem vitae convocasti, tu eos inter se primo domiciliis, deinde coniugiis, tum litterarum et vocum communione iunxisti, tu inventrix legum, tu magistra morum et disciplinae fuisti; ad te confugimus, a te opem petimus, tibi nos, ut antea magna ex parte, sic nunc penitus totosque tradimus. Est autem unus dies bene et ex praeceptis tuis actus peccanti inmortalitati anteponendus. Cuius igitur potius opibus utamur quam tuis, quae et vitae tranquillitatem largita nobis es et terrorem mortis sustulisti?
(Cicero, Disputationes Tusculanae V.5)
[O philosophy, guide of life, o explorer of virtue and banisher of vices. Without you what would I be, indeed what would the whole of human life be? You have given birth to cities, you have called scattered people into communal life, you have joined them together, firstly in dwellings, and then in marriage, then in the mutual sharing of language and literature, you are the founder of our laws, you the mistress of our customs and morality; to you I flee, from you I seek help, to you I dedicate myself, as I have done greatly in the past, so now fully and totally. Moreover, one day spent well and according to your teachings is to be preferred to an eternity of wrong-doing. And so on whose aid should we rely rather than yours, you who have not only bestowed upon us the tranquillity of life, but have also lifted from us the fear of death?]
Contrast and evaluate the literary methods the two authors use to present their philosophical material in these extracts. (10 marks)