Fabulae Ab Urbe Condita now in paperback: 8.95 USD

This book is an intermediate reader designed for Latin students who have completed their initial review of grammar but desire additional practice of adapted prose before they read Caesar or Cicero.

The Latin passages in this book, starting with the flight of Aeneas and ending with the life of Cicero, have been available to Latin readers for over 100 years. This commentary enhances the Latin readings by adding all corresponding vocabulary and grammatical notes below on the same page.

If you click the link to Fabulae Ab Urbe Condita at the top of this page, you will find a free pdf copy of this commentary as well as a number of important ancillaries. These files  will continue to be updated. And so, if you wish to use these files either privately or in a classroom, be sure to check back and download the most updated version.

The paperback is available on Amazon.com here for 8.95 USD.


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2 thoughts on “Fabulae Ab Urbe Condita now in paperback: 8.95 USD

  1. Dewayne Dulaney says:

    Ave, amice! Ut vales? Would you say that the reading difficulty level of the Fabulae Ab Urbae Condita is similar to the Latin History Reader compiled by John Piazza? Are there any vocabulary helps in the commentary, or just grammar helps?

    • geoffreysteadman says:

      You are welcome to download a pdf copy of the commentary on the website and take a look yourself. The commentary includes 10 lines of Latin with all corresponding vocabulary entries and grammatical notes below. The only vocabulary words not included on the same page are high frequency core words, which are found in a running list in the introduction and in an alphabetical list in the glossary.

      I am familiar with Piazza’s collection but have not examined it recently enough to know the level of difficulty of the readings. The readings in Fabulae Ab Urbe Condita are identical to the readings in Fabulae Romanae (the original source is 100 years old), and Fabulae Romanae is often read in 3rd semester university courses (e.g. the University of Tennessee) and in Latin 3 and 4 courses in high school (U.S.). In short, it is read after students have completed their study of grammar.

      The text is not a graded reader in the same way that Ritchie’s Fabulae Faciles is a graded reader. There, Ritchie is careful to repeat vocabulary and phrases to assist his readers. He starts off with just indicative forms, active and passive, in the Perseus episode, slowly adds subjunctives and participles in the Heracles stories, employs subjunctives, deponents, gerundives, and gerunds in Jason and Argonauts, and finishes off at higher level with Ulysses. (As a Latin teacher, I have my students read Jason and the Argonauts as preparation for Caesar.)

      The passages in Fabulae Ab Urge Condita were not written with the same intention. Instead, the original authors adapted the first half from Livy and the second half from the biographies of Lhomond. The subjunctives in the Livy half are somewhat infrequent, and the challenge is more often than not the vocabulary and word order: e.g. genitives coming before rather than after the noun, accusative objects at the beginning of sentences, missing subjects, heavy ellipsis. Despite the vocabulary and grammar help, it is still a challenge for intermediate level students. The good news is that each historical episode is short enough that readers can see the end coming and feel that sense of accomplishment.

      What makes the book attractive is, of course, the content. One short paragraph on Numa, for example, yields a discussion about the Gates of Janus, the symbolism of the gates being opened and closed, the contrast between Numa as peaceful lawgiver and Romulus as restless warrior (too good to be true for modern historians), the use of the goddess Egeria as a way to control the people, the adoption of a 12 month calendar (an opportunity to discuss Roman concepts of time), and the Vestal priestesses. In short, the readings allow teachers and students to review systematically much of the culture that we teach piecemeal throughout the program.

      I don’t think that this is an ideal text, however. The students need variation from just translating a block of text. In my own classes, I prefer to spend the first 20 minutes having the students complete 4-5 English-to-Latin sentences (my creation) where they rewrite the stories that we have read back into Latin. I find this is a good way to teach the lesson’s recent vocabulary and allows me to focus on grammar review (e.g. infinitives in ind. discourse, cum-clauses with imperfect subjunctive, etc.) Such exercises allow me to strike a balance between writing and reading that works well with my students and keeps their interest in the text.

      I would encourage you to reach out to teachers who currently use Fabulae Romanae in their courses and see what they have to say. I know that some are able to use the book for the entire year. Others use it for a quarter or half of a course and then move on to another author.

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