Thursday, October 29, 2009

mater Euryali et rex Antiochus

Here's a surprising statistic. Latin (with 185 candidates) is the ninth most popular foreign language at the HSC this year. Ninth most popular is not a lot to boast about, but here is a list of courses with fewer candidates than Latin Continuers this year*:

  • Vietnamese Continuers (166 candidates)
  • Chinese Continuers (131 candidates)
  • Modern Greek Continuers (116 candidates)
  • Indonesian Continuers (77 candidates)
  • Turkish Continuers (56 candidates)

Armenian, Croatian, Dutch, Filipino, Hindi, Hungarian, Macedonian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Swedish, Tamil and Ukrainian all had fewer than 50 candidates.

For the record Classical Greek and Classical Hebrew had 11 and 37 candidates respectively. Ancient History was the seventh most popular HSC course over all, with 12 127 candidates. You can find the full list here.

*These figures do not include Background Speakers or Beginners courses, which are in some cases(especially for Chinese) substantial.

Anyway, those 185 Latin Continuers students sat their HSC exam yesterday, and the 11 I spoke to afterwards seemed pretty happy with it. No real surprises, but enough interesting questions to allow them to shine. Here's my translation of the unseen passages, in case anyone is interested:

Euryalus' mother, on hearing of the death of her son in battle, rushes out to express her grief.

evolat infelix et femineo ululatu
scissa comam muros amens atque agmina cursu
prima petit, non illa virum, non illa pericli
telorumque memor, caelum dehinc questibus implet:
'hunc ego te, Euryale, aspicio? tune ille senectae
sera meae requies, potuisti linquere solam,
(Virgil Aeneid IX, 477-483)

The wretched woman (infelix) rushes out (evolat) and, out of her mind (amens), her hair torn (scissa comam), with a womanly cry (femineo ululatu) she makes with her course (cursu... petit) for the first ranks (agmina... prima), forgetting (non... memor) the men (virum) and the danger of the weapons, she then (dehinc) fills the heavens with her complaints (questibus): 'Is this you (hunc... te) I see, Euryalus? Could you (potuisti), the final rest (sera... requies) of my old age (senectae... meae), leave me alone (solam), too cruel (crudelis)?'

Cicero protests against the ill-treatment of King Antiochus, a longstanding ally and friend of the Roman people.

Rex Antiochus, qui Romae ante oculos omnium nostrum biennium fere comitatu regio atque ornatu fuisset, is cum amicus et socius populi Romani esset, amicissimo patre, avo, maioribus, antiquissimis et clarissimis regibus, praeceps provincia populi Romani exturbatus est. Quem ad modum hoc accepturas nationes exteras putasti, cum audirent a praetore populi Romani in provincia violatum regem, spoliatum hospitem, eiectum socium populi Romani atque amicum?
(Cicero, In Verrem II, IV, 30, 67-68)

King Antiochus, who had been at Rome (Romae) before the eyes of us all (omnium nostrum) for a period of almost two years (biennium fere) with his royal escort and adornment, this man (is), although (cum) he was a friend and an ally of the Roman people, along with his most friendly father, his grandfather and his ancestors, those most ancient and distinguished kings, was driven (exturbatus est) headlong (praeceps) out of a province of the Roman people. How (quem ad modum) did you think (putasti) that the foreign nations would accept (accepturas) this (hoc), when they heard that the king (regem) had been dishonoured (violatum) by the praetor in a province of the Roman people, that a guest had been ill-treated (spoliatum), that a friend and ally (socium... atque amicum) of the Roman people had been thrown out (eiectum)?


Mike Salter said...

My guys were fairly happy with the paper, as was I. The commentary questions were fairly general, leaving a lot of room for comfortable riffing on the focus areas, and the unseens were OK (especially the Cicero one, which was very straightforward by HSC standards).

Grammar questions were OK too, apart from the final Cicero one which was a tad bizarre (IMO the correct answer was "none of the above").

I have a feeling that the questions on the Cicero text will be very samey in the next couple of years. The middle section on the pirates is so boring and repetitive, and the first section (1-8) so nit-picky and passionless, that one of the major commentary questions will always have to be on the Gavius section, which is a free kick for the candidates who know their rhetorical stuff.

Mike Salter said...

Amazed at the low candidature for Chinese Continuers, by the way. Don't the kids know that fluency in Chinese is the first step towards becoming Prime Minister? ;-)

Anonymous said...

i was a bit puzzled by that grammar question too. i would have thought that indirect object was a more straightforward way of interpreting it. of the available options i think that agent is probably the best - we'll see what happens when the marking criteria come out.

the chinese continuers numbers don't, of course, include the 1,477 candidates doing background speakers. the number of beginners chinese is also surprising - only 9. that's fewer than classical greek.

Mike Salter said...

How are things going at marking JM?

Anonymous said...

exhausting! i've once again been reminded of the incredible power of alliteration. according to some of the responses it can achieve just about anything. i'm seriously considering adding 'without reference to alliteration' to all my exam questions next year.

we should be finished continuers by tuesday/wednesday, then a few days off and start it all again for extension. i'll probably post a few reflections once it's all over.

you may be interested to know that neither the senior markers nor the chief examiner could immediately answer that cicero grammar question.

Mike Salter said... may be interested to know that neither the senior markers nor the chief examiner could immediately answer that cicero grammar question...

Ha...can't say I'm surprised.

I suppose alliteration is the most obvious thing to talk about, and the safest (no chance of saying chiasmus when you mean hypallage, or zeugma when you mean asyndeton, etc.). Personally I prefer my guys to get away from all the Greek words a bit sometimes and just talk about word choice and word placement...but it's hard to resist all those sexy terms in the syllabus!