RITCHIE'S FABULAE FACILES
EDITED WITH NOTES AND A VOCABULARY
JOHN COPELAND KIRTLAND, Jr.
Professor of Latin in The Phillips Exeter Academy
THE LITTLE THAT IS MINE IN THIS LITTLE BOOK I GRATEFULLY DEDICATE TOPROFESSOR JOSEPH HETHERINGTON M'DANIELS TEACHER AND FRIEND
Some time ago a fellow-teacher brought the Fabulae Faciles to mynotice, and I have since used two of them each year with my class ofbeginners in Latin with increasing appreciation. Indeed, I know nothingbetter to introduce the student into the reading of connected narrative,and to bridge the great gulf between the beginner's book of theprevailing type and the Latinity of Caesar or Nepos. They are adapted tothis use not merely by reason of their simplicity and interest, but moreparticularly by the graduating of difficulties and the large use ofCaesarian words and phrases to which Mr. Ritchie calls attention in hispreface.
Doubtless many American teachers have become familiar with portions ofthe Fabulae, for they have been freely drawn upon in several Latinreaders recently published in this country. I venture to hope that thosewho have made the acquaintance of the work in this way will welcome acomplete edition.
In England the little book has had a large use. Its pedagogicalexcellencies are well summed up in a letter addressed to Mr. Ritchie bythe Very Rev. E.C. Wickham, formerly Head-Master of Wellington College,the well-known editor of Horace:--
"It launches the student at once in ancient life. The old classicalstories, simply told, seem to me much the best material for early Latinreading. They are abundantly interesting; they are taken for granted inthe real literature of the language; and they can be told withoutstarting the beginner on a wrong track by a barbarous mixture of ancientand modern ideas.
"It combines, if I may say so, very skilfully, the interest of acontinuous story, with the gradual and progressive introduction ofconstructions and idioms. These seem to me to be introduced at the rightmoment, and to be played upon long enough to make them thoroughlyfamiliar."
In revising Mr. Ritchie's book for the use of American schools it hasseemed best to make extensive changes. Long vowels have been markedthroughout, and the orthography of Latin words has been brought intoconformity with our practice. Many liberties have been taken with thetext itself, especially in the latter part, in the way of making itapproximate more closely to our rather strict notions of the standards ofmodel prose. A few words and uses of words not found in the prose writersof the republic have been retained, but nothing, it is hoped, that willseriously mislead the young student. I shall welcome any criticism thatmay lead to further changes in the text in future editions.
The notes are entirely new, and are intended for students who have butjust finished the beginner's book or have not yet finished it. Some notesmay appear at first sight unnecessary or unnecessarily hard, but thereason for their insertion should be evident when the student begins thereading of classical Latin, the difficulties of which will be less likelyto appal the beginner if some of them have been already conquered. Ibelieve it a mistake to postpone all treatment of the uses of thesubjunctive, for instance, or of the constructions of indirect discourseuntil the study of Nepos or Caesar is begun. Besides, it is easier toneglect notes than to supply them, and the teacher who prefers to do thefirst reading without much attention to the more difficult constructionswill only need to tell his students to disregard certain of my notes--orall of them.
There are no references to the grammars, but syntax has been given suchtreatment as seemed needed to supplement its treatment in the beginner'sbook. Teachers will therefore be able to postpone the use of a formalmanual of grammar, if they so desire. Those who wish their classes tobegin the reading of Latin at the earliest possible moment will find itfeasible to use this book as soon as the inflections and the moreelementary principles of syntax have been mastered.
In the vocabulary, the derivation or composition and the original meaningof words have been indicated wherever these seemed likely to provehelpful. Principal parts and genitives have been given in such a way asto prevent misunderstanding, and at the same time emphasize thecomposition of the verb or the suffix of the noun: for example, abscídó,-cídere, -cídí, -císus; aetás, -tátis.
The lists of works of English literature and of art in which the mythsare treated are only suggestive. Occasional readings from the one andexhibitions of representations of the other, either in the form ofphotographs or by the stereopticon, will not only stimulate interest inthe Latin text but aid also in creating in the student a taste forliterature and for art.
I planned at first to add some exercises for retranslation, but aftercareful consideration it has seemed not worth while. Most teachers willprefer not to base composition upon the Latin read at this stage, andthose who wish to do so will find it an easy matter to prepare their ownexercises, or can draw upon the copious exercises prepared by Mr. Ritchieand published separately under the title Imitative Exercises in EasyLatin Prose.
In the reading of proof I have had generous help from Dr. F.K. Ball ofThe Phillips Exeter Academy, Mr. J.C. Flood of St. Mark's School, and Mr.A.T. Dudley of Noble and Greenough's School, Boston. The proof-sheetshave been used with the beginner's class in this Academy, and I have thusbeen able to profit by the criticism of my associate Mr. G.B. Rogers, andto test the work myself. The assistance of my wife has greatly lightenedthe labor of verifying the vocabulary.
JOHN C. KIRTLAND, Jr.
EXETER, N.H., 7 March, 1903.
The Fabulae Faciles, or 'Easy Stories.' are four Greek myths retold inLatin, not by a Roman writer, however, but by an Englishman, who believedthat they would afford interesting and pleasant reading for young folkswho were just beginning the study of the Latin language. By myth is meantan imaginative tale that has been handed down by tradition from remoteantiquity concerning supernatural beings and events. Such tales arecommon among all primitive peoples, and are by them accepted as true.They owe their origin to no single author, but grow up as the untutoredimagination strives to explain to itself the operations of nature and themysteries of life, or amuses itself with stories of the brave exploits ofheroic ancestors.
The most beautiful and delightful of all myths are those that have comedown to us in the remains of the literature and the art of ancient Greeceand Rome; they are also the most important to us, for many of the greatmasterpieces of English literature and of modern art have been inspiredby them and cannot be understood and appreciated by one ignorant ofclassical mythology.
Of this mythology the Fabulae Faciles give but a small part. If youwish to know more of the subject, you should read Gayley's The ClassicMyths in English Literature, Guerber's Myths of Greece and Rome, orthe books by Kingsiey, Cox, Church, and Francillon mentioned earlier.
Acrisius, an ancient king of Argos, had been warned by an oracle that heshould perish by the hand of his grandson. On discovering, therefore,that his daughter Danae had given birth to a son, Acrisius endeavored toescape his fate by setting both mother and child adrift on the sea. Theywere saved, however, by the help of Jupiter; and Perseus, the child, grewup at the court of Polydectes, king of Seriphos, an island in the AegeanSea. On reaching manhood, Perseus was sent by Polydectes to fetch thehead of Medusa, one of the Gorgons. This dangerous task he accomplishedwith the help of Apollo and Minerva, and on his way home he rescuedAndromeda, daughter of Cepheus, from a sea-monster. Perseus then marriedAndromeda, and lived some time in the country of Cepheus. At length hereturned to Seríphos, and turned Polydectes to stone by showing him theGorgon's head; he then went to the court of Acrisius, who fled in terrorat the news of his grandson's return. The oracle was duly fulfilled, forAcrisius was accidentally killed by a quoit thrown by Perseus.