OSSIUM

OSSIUM = of the Bones

Ossium Carnes Multae
e Marci Tullii Ciceronis epistulis

The Bones’ Meats Abundant
from the epistles of
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Reggie and Dan discuss the Ossium book and the audio book, Os

Reggie speaks to us in Latin about our next volume on the letters of Cicero.

If you cannot see or play the video, you may view it on our Youtube chanel at this link.

Image of cover of book: Ossium Carnes Multae

The Cicero book has a web-page with the publisher available here.

This companion volume is intended to provide from Cicero’s letters specific examples that correspond to each of the 105 encoutners in the book The Mere Bones of Latin : Ossa Latinitatis Sola.

From the draft of the Introduction:

As has been announced and emphasized in volume I, Ossa Latinitatis Sola, The Mere Bones of Latin our intention immediately is to help teachers and students in this quest for patterns which illustrate the subject matter in the previous volume. There the reader was advised and directed to find proper examples in the accompanying reading sheets. Here as a help or guide we are already providing absolutely first-class illustrations of the Ossa taken from a bottomless source of super Latin which is sorely and tragically neglected by most teachers, commentators, manualists: namely the approximately 930 letters in a large body of Cicero’s extant correspondence. The reason for this choice of study aides will now be explained in detail for the simple reason that many people simply do not know what kind of fantastic Latin is found in these letters. The volume of this matter might be indicated by the fact that the Oxford edition of Cicero’s letters fills four separate bound volumes which are waiting to be understood, enjoyed, studied, imitated.

… Today we could say that Cicero’s letters are the absolutely closest we can come to his telephone conversations, to his e-mail, to his tweets-texting, video conferences. There are some people who falsely say we don’t know how the Romans spoke Latin, but the fact is that from Cicero’s letters we know almost exactly how they spoke Latin. And these same letters will soon provide all the ‘meats’ we want for our Latin ‘bones’. 

As a final attempt to inflame your enthusiasm and sharpen your appreciation of Cicero’s letters, we would like to propose one single sentence as a gold mine of Latinity. We want to point out all the elements of Latin which are contained in this full sentence. You will be astonished to see how much Latin can be understood and appreciated and taught from a few real lines of Cicero and that from one of his letters. This sentence is arranged on the page as will the fifty-one letters hereafter, and so gives an opportunity to introduce a model of the method of presentation in this book. The quote is followed by our English rendering:

Volo enim te scire, mi Paete, initium mihi suspicionis et cautionis et diligentiae fuisse litteras tuas, quibus litteris congruentes fuerunt aliae postea multorum: nam et Aquini et Fabrateriae consilia sunt inita de me quae te video inaudisse et, quasi divinarent quam iis molestus essem futurus, nihil aliud egerunt nisi me ut opprimerent (Fam. IX, 24, 1 [820]).

“My dear Paetus, I want you to know that for me the beginning of suspicion and caution and care was your letter, to which letter afterwards other ones of many people were in agreement: for decisions were made at both Aquinum and Fabrateria about me which I see you overheard and, as though they were guessing how annoying I was going to be for them, they did nothing else except that they might squash me

Following the quote and an English rendering in its entirety, the text’s various Latin usages will be pointed out. In each case the Latin as it appears in the text is followed by the rendering as it appears in this our English translation. These are followed by brief statements that explain the usage of the expression according to our terminology for newcomers to our system; other outlawed terms used traditionally elsewhere may be added here lest we alienate anyone from the rest of Latin studies and therefore cause confusion where it should not exist. Following each explanation, offset to the right border, a little arrow refers the reader to each element discussed, followed by the number of the corresponding encounter in the Ossa book so that the reader may review the matter there and its application here in Cicero’s letters. Otherwise, some entries suggest consulting the dictionary and this is indicated following the arrow by the abbreviation “dict.”. The remaining abbreviations are found in the list to follow further below.

In this sentence all the forms of nouns-adjectives are used:

  • suspicionis, cautionis, diligentiae, multorum, “of suspicion, of … caution, of … care, of many people”: of-possession forms (so called genitive; gen.). ➜ gen., 20
  • mi Paete, “My dear Paetus”: direct address forms (so c. vocative; voc.). ➜ voc., 38
  • congruentes … aliae, consilia, “others … in agreement, decisions”: subject forms (so c. nominative; nom.) expressed clearly. ➜ nom., 6
  • Aquini … Fabrateriae, “at Aquinum … Fabrateria”: place forms (so c. locative). ➜ loc., 69
  • de me, “about me”: in this prepositional phrase me is the form by-with-from-in (so c. ablative; abl.)➜ abl., 27
  •  nihil aliud, and the second me, “nothing else” and the second “me”: object form used as an object (so c. accusative; acc.). ➜ acc., 2
  •  te, initium, litteras tuas and the second te (te video), “you, the beginning, your letter” and the second “you”: object form used as a subject of an indirect statement (so c. accusative; acc.). ➜ OO, 71-73
  • mihi, quibus litteris, iis, “for me, to which letter, for them”: to-for-from form (so c. dative; dat.). ➜ dat., 33

Verb times used are:

  • volo, “I want” T1i. ➜ T1i, 3, 12
  • fuerunt, “[other ones] were” T4bi. ➜ T4bi, 8
  • sunt inita, “[decisions] were made” T4bi passive. ➜ T4bi pass, 26
  • video, “I see” T1i. ➜ T1i, 3, 12 
  • divinarent, “they were guessing” T2s. ➜ T2s, 44 
  • essem futurus, “I was going to be” T2s. ➜ T2s, 44
  • egerunt, “they did” T4bi. ➜ T4bi, 8
  • opprimerent, “they might squash” T2s. ➜ T2s, 44
  • No deponent verbal forms were used.

Three expressions of indirect discourse (Oratio Obliqua, OO) were used, each depending on a verb of Mind and Mouth (M&M):

  • Volo … te scire, “I want you to know”: te scire is OO depending on M&M verb Volo. ➜ OO, 71-73
  • scire … initium … fuisse litteras, “to know that … the beginning … was your letter”: initium fuisse litteras is OO depending on M&M verb scire. ➜ OO, 71-73
  • te video inaudisse, “I see you overheard”: te inaudisse is OO sandwiching the M&M verb on which they depend, video. ➜ OO, 71-73
  • In these expressions of OO, a contemporaneous infinitive appears, scire, and two antecedent infinitives, fuisseinaudisse.

Other usages include:

  • quam essem futurus , “how annoying I was going to be”: Indirect Question (IQ) depending on the verb of M&M, divinarent, “they were guessing”. ➜ fut. in the subj. 61
  • me ut opprimerent, “that they might squash me”: final or purpose clause depending on egerunt, “they did”. ➜ subj. use: final clause, 58
  • quasi divinarent, “as though they were guessing”: a conditional sentence of comparison equivalent to “as if they were guessing”. ➜ G&L 602
  • quibus litteris congruentes, “to which letter … [many people] were in agreement”: quibus litteris are dat. because congruentes is either a compound verb or one of the 65 which take the dative – sometimes you can argue about which. ➜ IQ 64
  • divinarent … essem futurus … opprimerent, “they were guessing … I was going to be … they might squash”: all three are T2s and depend on T4b egerunt, “they did”, establishing Track II in the sequence of tenses. ➜consecutio, 47-48
  • essem futurus, “I was going to be”: futurity formula of the verb esse, “to be”, which could be translated in at least 4 ways: “I was going to be”, “I was about to be”, “I was fixing to be”, “I would be” … ➜ IQ 64

There is sufficient Latin material here for about three calendar course years, but this is just to whet your appetite for an infinity of beautiful things to come from Cicero’s letters.

How to use this volume

The original intent for this second volume with the title of Ossium Carnes MultaeThe Bones’ Meats Abundant, was to excerpt a few words here and there from the letters of Cicero as examples to illustrate each of the 105 encounters of our previous book, Ossa Latinitatis SolaThe Mere Bones of Latin. Immediately we realized, however, that such a method would cut up the language and human thought as if it were a dead frog to be dissected, which Latin is not. Thus, consistent with the first book, this second one is not a presentation of grammar, rather it is an active, living introduction to a body of Latin literature where each passage must be understood in light of the fuller expression of Cicero. 

We suggest that this book be used in conjunction with the Ossa book. That first volume of the series provides the bones or the structure for teaching the Latin language. However, we realize and some people may criticize the Ossa book for giving theory without much practical application. Extensive reading sheets are provided in the Ossa book without explanations of the Latin texts or their historical contexts, which are confidently left up to the teacher. This second volume is intended to put some flesh on the bones, taken from the letters of Cicero, as an example of how to teach from one monument of Latinity. 

Repository of the letters

The stream of thoughts rushing through Cicero’s mind which he wrote on a wax tablet were nearly a millennium later copied and preserved in manuscripts written by an anonymous source. These manuscripts containing the Epistulae ad Atticum were rediscovered in a library in Verona in 1345 by Petrarch, considered the father of the Italian Renaissance. Let us remember Thomas Aquinas had died less than a century earlier in 1274. Hearing about this find, Coluccio Salutati, chancellor of Florence, requested a copy be sent to him from Milan. Upon receiving it around 1389 he realized that purely by accident he had received an independent collection of Cicero’s letters, these the Epistulae ad Familiares. At about this same time the Medici family was rising to prominence in Florence and their private library eventually became the foundation of what is now the Bibliotheca Medicea Laurenziana where a collection of these same letters is housed. Their manuscript of the letters ad Atticum dates to the ninth or tenth century, while their manuscript of the letters ad familiareswas copied around 1391 from an older manuscript. 

For the enjoyment and encouragement, for the education and edification of the readers of this our second volume the corresponding digital image or images selected from those Florentine manuscripts have been inserted on the page facing the typescript of each letter, in as much as this whole book has as its object the letters of Cicero. We present the letters, commentary and sentences so that students and teachers may enter into this world, this conversation, this personal encounter, for this is as close as we can get to Cicero’s writings on wax-tablets, his quasi phone calls in his letters of over two thousand years ago, and we are totally friendly with the copyist and Cicero himself. 

We present our selection of the fifty-one letters of Cicero twice in this volume, but in different ways. In both cases the typescript text is taken directly from the edition produced by Tyrrell-Purcer. This is most evident in part two of this volume where these letters are presented along with our rendition of them and commentary. The same text of each letter is also presented in part one of this volume with accompanying images of the manuscript texts of each letter from the Medicean library. …

Part II: Our commentaries on Cicero’s Letters

The second part of this book replicates the same letters of Cicero as are found in their integrity in the first part. Here longer letters are divided into smaller sections at the numbers internal to each letter, which are presented one section at a time. To be realistic and honest with our readers, we are yielding to the necessity of adding our own translations of the letters already presented. These translations of our own creation are always distinguished from Cicero’s Latin texts. 

After each translation, we offer a linguistic commentary that indicates how Cicero is using the Latin language. Our purpose is to teach the Latin language immediately, forcing the reader in medias res, “into the middle of things”, as we listen to Tully talking today on the phone. We have limited each comment to focus on only a few of Cicero’s Latin words, which we present in italic scrypt at the beginning of most of our entries or commentaries. Next, their corresponding English words from our translation are given in quotation marks. The commentary is then divided by a colon, after which appears our explanation of Cicero’s Latin talk. We have tried to limit each entry to one or at most a few elements of the Latin language. The more common elements are indicated briefly by abbreviations; these are given in the chart presented with their full expression at the end of this introductory statement. 

Following each of these brief commentaries is a reference arrow “➜” followed by a system of cross-references developed with much care and toil by Daniel Vowels, who has taught Latin from the draft copies of the Ossa and this book for several years in London, England. The element of the Latin language under consideration is given, followed by a number that directs the reader to one of the numbered encounters of the Ossa book where a patient and focused explanation of each of these elements is available. For the sake of clarity the encounters in the Ossa book are numbered from 1 to 105 in these references. For example, our commentary for the first line of the second letter appears in this book as follows:

  • quantum … acceperim, “what … I got: IQ depending on M&M verb existimare, “to judge”. This and the next IQ are on Track I established by existimare potes, “you are able to judge”. 

➜ M&M, 60; IQ, 60; consecutio, 47-48.

At the end of this commentary is an arrow indicating the references to each topic in the Ossa book. The abbreviation M&M refers to verbs of mind and mouth, which are considered in the Ossa book in encounter 60 (Third Experience, encounter 25). The abbreviation IQ refers to indirect questions which are also covered in encounter 60 of the Ossa book. The term consecutio refers to the sequence of tenses, which is considered in encounters 47-48 of the Ossa volume (Second Experience, encounters 12, 13).

Some references direct the reader to a good dictionary, abbreviated as “dict.” For consistency, the specific meaning of the word is indicated using the system of numerals and letters found in the Lewis and Short dictionary. Because the Lewis and Short dictionary formats words in its entries differently than we do here, our references here do not reproduce the dictionary entries exactly as written and formatted there. Because we have used quotation marks to indicate the translation of a Latin text, even the use of quotation marks to indicate that a text has been cited directly from the dictionary would be confusing. As a result, the words in these our references to dictionary entries may be presumed to be direct citations from the dictionary although this is not otherwise noted out of concern for clarity of our text. 

A few other references direct the reader to the reference work by Gildersleeve and Lodge, abbreviated as “GL”, followed by the paragraph number, and only by exception to the page number in their work. 

In a few instances the references direct the reader to another part of this book, such as the Roman Calendar located at the end of this volume as an addendum, or to a particular work listed in the bibliography.  

Part III: The 500 sentences

The third part of this book is a special gift and help for our users. It consists of 500 sentences compiled by us the authors, going through Cicero’s letters almost at random to find complete, whole, unadulterated sentences of typically three or four words, like talking with Cicero on the phone. There are 200 declaratory sentences, 100 questions, 100 exclamations and 100 commands. These were originally presented at a conference held in Malta around the year 1973, and more recently at the annual conference of the Classical Association of Minnesota held at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, in 2013. 

Using this volume

This book may also be used in a certain reverse order by anyone looking for examples to illustrate one of the encounters in the Ossa book. Any teacher or self-learner may turn to the back of this book where a cross index enumerates all of the 105 encounters of the Ossa book. For example, if you are teaching from encounter number 78 (experience 4, encounter 8) of the Ossa book, and presenting the five verbs that take their complement in the ablative, and you quickly want to find some example sentences in these letters of Cicero which demonstrate this use of the language, you may turn to the cross index at the end of this volume and look under encounter 78. There you will find listed the specific letters of Cicero treated in this book where we comment on this expression, although innumerable other examples can and must be found by any individual. Turning to any one of those letters you can look in the references following the arrow to find “verbs with the abl., 78”. Our commentary will lead the reader to the specific text of the letter, and to the whole letter presented in Part One of this volume. In this way, some of the more difficult to find expressions can more easily be located in their natural occurrences. Other indices are also provided to help the reader locate a letter by its standard reference or by its T – P number or according to its addressee.

What this book is not

Some people may seek in this volume an historical introduction to the letters of Cicero, for which the interested reader may consult numerous commentaries in the library including the volumes by Tyrrell – Purser from which we have drawn these letters, or the excellent translations provided by Shackleton Bailey which capture the feeling and spirit of the letters in modern English. Our intent here is to provide something which historical, contextual studies often do not provide, namely direct access to the very Latin expression of Cicero. In doing so, however, this volume is not intended to be a classroom textbook or a workbook or a program that teachers follow with the students. Rather, this is envisioned as a preparatory text for classroom teaching or a model for learning by which we hope to inspire Latin teachers and self-learners to apply this method to their own preferred authors. We seek an encounter with the full corpus of Latin literature, giving Cicero as a model here.

Companion volume III: Os praesens Cieronis: The Immediate Mouth of Cicero

According to our method, which is different from most traditional methods, from the very first encounter students meet authentic Latin authors, Cicero among them, without adaptation of their texts. In addition to the initial description of our method of teaching and learning the Latin language presented in this Ossa book, we now wish to show how our method may be used to introduce students to any genre of Latin literature from the very first encounter, using Cicero’s letters as our guide. 

An appreciation of the beauty of Latin may take hold right away and inspire students as they absorb and digest the letters of Cicero presented in this volume. They may wish to assimilate and learn to speak with viva illa vox, “that living voice”; this is humanly possible and totally rewarding. For this purpose we provide a companion volume III, the third in this series, entitled Os praesens Ciceronis epistularis: The immediate Mouth of Cicero in his Letters. It provides an audio reading of the same 51 letters of Cicero discussed in this volume. The listener may read along with these audio recordings, so the full text of each of the 51 letters is once again presented there, this time with the complete text of our translation of each letter on the facing page to encourage an immediate understanding of the Latin text in the hearing. 

In the audio volume we also provide a help and guide to the teacher of Latin at every level and to the self-learner. This guide shows how the authentic expression of Cicero may be presented during the first four encounters with the language for each of the five Latin Experiences, as can be done for any other body of Latin literature. 

Thus, we begin with the first four encounters of the First Experience and show how the letters of Cicero and the five-hundred sentences may be incorporated into the learning experience from the very beginning. Immediately we would like to give eight specific examples lettered from A to H for each of these encounters for a total of 160 dialogues so that we may head off certain initial difficulties experienced by teachers and beginners. Examples of how his writings may be used in the first four encounters of the second, third, fourth and fifth experiences then follow. 

These conversations are given in the form of brief exchanges between an instructor and learners. They are based on the actual experience of teaching from authentic texts from every Latin author over the course of a career and from the experience of learning Latin by such a dialogical method. In each dialogue we begin with a genuine Latin sentence from epistolary Cicero and begin to work with it and gradually develop the capacity to create our own sentences based on those authentic Latin examples. People may consider sentences from these 51 of our letters and from the 500 sentences and then begin to work with them by reversing the singular and plural, flipping the active and passive, changing the verb times and persons, constructing new phrases and sentences based on the material offered by the literature, from the First Encounter with authors of the Latin Language all the way through the Fifth Experience with the fullness of Latin possibilities. 

CONTINENTUR
contents

EXORDIUM | forword: Antonio Salvi
PROLOGIUM | prologue: Shane Butler
PRAEFATIO | preface: Sally Davis

LOCUTIONIS INDOLES AC NATURA CICERONIS IN EPISTULIS |
the character and nature of speech in Cicero’s letters 

QUOMODO SIT HIC LIBER URSUPANDUS |
in what manner this book is to be used 

VOCABULORUM COMPENDIA | abbreviations of words

PARS PRIMA
EPISTULARUM SUMMATIM DELECTUS
part I
a choice of letters together

PARS SECUNDA
EPISTULARUM MINUTATIM TRACTATUS
part II
the treatment of the letters in detail

PARS TERTIA
QUINGENTA INSTAR EXEMPLORUM INCISA 
SEU BREVILOQUIA CICERONIS EPISTULARIS
part III
500 clauses or tweets of Cicero in his letters 
in the manner of examples

ADDITAMENTUM
ROMANORUM DE CALENDARIO 
an addition
about the Roman calendar 

We are grateful to welcome the collaboration of Daniel Vowles who is preparing the extensive cross-referencing in this volume. Daniel has also begun teaching with a draft copy of this text during the two-week program held annually in August at Ealing Abbey, London.

Bibliographic entry:

Foster, R.T. – D.P. McCarthy, Ossium carnes multae ex M. T. Ciceronis epistulisThe Bones’ Meats Abundant from the Letters of M. T. Cicero, (Latinitatis corpus 2), Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC forthcoming.

Share Button