Caesar's Gallic Wars

Our Latin teacher, Eric Roby, managed to make the subject full of interest by teaching us not just the language, but the events and legends of Ancient Rome. Our Latin text was Caesar's Gallic Wars, which included his invasion of England. Early on in the course, Mr Roby popped his head round the door of the classroom and told us that for our homework that evening we were to translate just the first sentence of Book VIII, the section that covered that invasion. The class was elated to have got off so lightly, and we congratulated ourselves that we'd have most of the evening free. When we looked at that first sentence, however, we discovered that it was two pages long! He must have been amused at his joke, knowing what our reaction would be when we discovered it.

I soon developed a liking for Latin, admiring its logical structure and predictability. I once asked the teacher if we could have dictation included as part of the exam. The class groaned, thinking I had asked for more work, but Mr Roby smiled, realizing that I had asked for less, and told the class why. The point is that Latin is pronounced as it looks, so we could have been confronted with any unknown piece of it and effortlessly pronounced it correctly. If this had taken the place of some of the translation it would have given us an easy ride.