Reading Exercises in Latin, by Dainis Zeps, currently offers thirty-seven selections from the fables of Phaedrus (five books and an Appendix Perottina) with Interpretationes Latinae (prose paraphrases) made in later centuries by unknown hands. Selections include The Wolf and the Tragic Mask and other famous ones. Their order and the prose paraphrases are taken from Gr. Smelters' 1939 edition, Faidra fabulas. REL presents the student with three horizontal frames: the top frame includes Phaedrus' tale split vertically with the interpretatio Latina; the second frame, contains definitions generated by utilizing Words--William Whitaker's Latin dictionary and word parser: the frame parses and gives the meaning of any word from the first frame. The third frame gives a nudge to the to the struggling reader, presenting groups of words that are syntactically related.
REL can assist students in acquiring Latin reading skills by providing them with Latin text, vocabulary, and morphology. REL arguably facilitates this acquisition better than any method yet devised. Its strength is the presentation of continuous Latin text, which gives the student vocabulary and morphology on demand and on the same page as the text--see Ease of Use below for more on this. On a random check of the thirty-seven fables and Prologue and their accompanying prose translations, lengths ranging from about ten to twenty lines apiece, no typos were found and only one word was mis-glossed--senariis as 'old man' instead of 'six-foot'. Words defines the word correctly and so the mistake is attributable to the static pages created in REL.
The site could be improved with a general statement of purpose and desired outcomes. Standard numeration of the selected fables should be provided: the first fable is I.7, the second is #24 of the Appendix Perottina, and the third is fable 9 from Book V. The third frame has tremendous potential as syntactic guide to a student who is stuck figuring out what word goes with what. Every word in frame 2 is linked to a word group in frame 3. Within frame 3 clicking on individual words shows syntactical relationships. For example, in the sentence Ergo vipera dimisit rictu praedam, quam comedere non potuit, students struggling with the antecedent of quam, after clicking it in frame 3, will be shown praedam. A click on potuit gives the student its complementary infinitive comedere. Clicking dimisit gives, both individually and altogether, the words associated with it --ergo, vipera, rictu, praedam.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
REL provides a valuable service to both teachers and students. Though the amount of text may be insufficient for an entire semester's material,
teachers may use the site as an integral part of a their intermediate or upper level Latin course or as a supplement. Given the links to morphology and definitions, students may use the site on their own to enhance their reading skills, while enjoying Phaedrus' creation of a new literary genre and trying to identify the allusions for which Sejanus had Phaedrus punished.
The Interpretatio Latina can serve at least two pedagogical functions. Because it is still in Latin, it is better than a translation as an aid to students, providing an excellent series of notes for those struggling to comprehend the original. Also, students may compose their own prose-paraphrases of the fables and compare their versions with the original ones.
The reviewers encourage the site's owner to add more authors to the site.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is superior to other sites of its ilk in three regards: (1) the text is continuous, not linked by frames; (2) vocabulary and morphology, the second frame, are part of the text-page, not accessed by a pop-up window or new page; (3) the second frame allows students to access information by clicking on the Latin words in frame 1 or by using the scroll feature within frame 2. Thus meanings and morphology can be accessed by a quick glance, just like reading a Latin text with running vocabulary, allowing students to focus their attention on reading the Latin. Also, the utilization of Whitaker's Words pre-run in hyperlinked pages (frame-displayed) can save the user time in multi-tasking between the text and the dictionary program.
The third frame is cut short and either barely usable or invisible in the default presentation; users may not be aware of its presence. Although the frames can be easily resized with the mouse, to allow for easier use of any one frame,
there are no instructions for this and this solution may not be obvious to all. In order that students find and utilize the valuable features of this frame, the reviewers suggest that the default presentation be revised.
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