Metella est in atrio. Metella in atrio sedet.

Hello my lovelies. Whether you went to private school, grammar school, or did a Classics degree you will no doubt have been taught our old friend, Latin. Study of this, now extinct, language was mandatory in my school and our particular textbooks were the Cambridge Latin Course series:

metella est in artrio

Now, these books actually look rather nice don't they? Well, these look nothing like our books. Our books looked like books from 1911 that had sunk on the Titanic, come back from the dead, and are now haunting you. They were the kind of books where the list of previous owners on the inside cover had long outgrown the confines of the stamp provided, so people just started writing their own names underneath the stamp in a long list edging closer and closer towards one corner because none of us had quite mastered the art of writing straight yet. There was a strong sense of history and tradition in my school which basically meant that, if a book could give you asbestos poisoning, you should count yourself lucky because it's probably a first edition and you are privileged to be reading it young lady. Now, why haven't you changed into your indoor shoes? Madeleine is wearing her indoor shoes. That's it, pass me your jotter, I'm sending a note home to your parents. Now, run along and put it in you Homework Diary.

Basically, what I'm driving at here is that our books were fucking old.
*and my school was like Hogwarts.

Ok, back to the opus at hand. See what I did there? Opus. Task. Hmmmmmmm? *pushes up glasses* I realise that the sad level of humour I'm going for here is targeted at quite a niche group but, if you are such an animal, then this one's for you:

metella est in artrio

Oh, Grumio. I never understood why you'd have your own cook on standby but still have just bread and water for breakfast every day. What a waste of talent. I bet you and that giant ladle are very lonely in your master's kitchen aren't you?

As you may have gleaned from the picture, Grumio was a slave and the cook in the Cambridge Latin series. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the workbooks told the story of a wealthy banker named Lucius Caecilius Iucundus and his family in Pompeii. The first unit focused on him, his wife Metella, son Quintus, and their household. But as the series went on, we learned about their daily life in Pompeii and were taken through the Forum, the theatre, school, political life etc. There were five books in total and the final book ended rather dramatically with the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius. We saw the entire family fall and, the only survivor, Quintus escaping by the skin of his teeth with the family dog watching the whole city burn as they sailed solemnly away. And then there was a vocabulary list and some verbs to decline:

I die horribly
you die horribly
he / she dies horribly
we die horribly
you (plural) die horribly
they all die horribly in an ashy, ashy mess

In hindsight, it was really rather interesting because these people actually existed. But, alas, at the time, it all just made no bloody sense at all. We were 14, I was much too busy doodling Bob's name in my exercise book, reading Smash Hits magazine and pretending I didn't fancy Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys (I did, I so did *retroactive swoon*). Besides, literally no one speaks Latin any more and, because of this, none of us knew what bloody accent to use when reading it aloud. It wasn't until I discovered the glorious Eddie Izzard at uni that I realised, my Year 9 class wasn't alone in the struggle. His Latin segment in Definite Article is bloody hilarious as is this little nugget I stumbled across today:

Although the books we were taught at school were based on fact, they were a little hard to take seriously. Take our matriarch for instance, why the Benedict Cumberbatch was Metella's character progression so utterly and completely shit? Grumio, when left to his own devices, managed a torrid affair with slave girl Melissa, but five books and all Metella did was sit in the bloody atrium.

There it is people, the subjugation of women circa AD 79. Where the mother, the giver of life for this notable family has so little to offer the reader but the relationship between her arse and a chair. No wonder she died when Vesuvius blew, she probably just had pins and needles.

Incidentally, if you'd like to learn more about what went down in Pompeii DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIE, POMPEII. You will learn nothing. If you like abs on the other hand, then definitely watch the movie because... well, this:

metella est in artrio

So, if you like abs, Kit Harrington. But if you want to learn about Roman life, Caecilus est in horto. Neither are particularly reliable sources of primary evidence but, one of them, is at least based on something real. And by real I mean the observations of Plinny the Younger being hurtled out to sea while Vesuvius erupts crying out:

"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.... has anyone seen my jotter? I must record this for posterity so an obnoxious brown lady can allude to it wryly, yet affectionately, many centuries from now". 

So, the promises of unbridled Latin use in our adult lives were all a bit of a lie really, weren't they? I had to study it again as part of my degree and, once again, I've forgotten all of that too. However, all that exposure to the syntax in Latin has made me somewhat obsessive about parenthetical elements in English. I insert them everywhere now, launching them into every possible sentence like a grammar vigilante, laying down commas and taking names. So I suppose, in that way, it's affected my adult life. That, and I fell completely in love with the study of antiquity as a whole #classicsgeeksunite

As for the language though, I bloody struggled with it but I wouldn't change a thing. It was a rite of passage and something that shall forever bond me to the other hapless few. Those people you meet in life who also know the relentless tedium of having to memorise endless declension tables or a write an essay about their journey to school with their sodding paedogogus. The tired and confused who spent hours trying to understand the ablative and who, all those years later, got so freaking excited when they saw that "Caecilius Est In Horto" group on Facebook and joined it like there was no tomorrow.

So, to all my bad-ass puellae and pueri out there I say a big, fat WELL DONE YOU *tips hat* and finally:


Right, I'm off to join Metella by the impluvium for a stitch and bitch session.

My Life As An Imposter

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