BMCR 2022.04.44

Statius, ‘Achilleid’: an intermediate Latin reader

, Statius, 'Achilleid': an intermediate Latin reader. Beloit: C.T. Hadavas, 2021. Pp. 200. ISBN 9798456911025 $17.95.

Since 2013, Constantine Hadavas has been something of a one-man publishing house, independently producing transitional ancient Greek and Latin texts for intermediate students. The latest book in what is now a 13-book series is the surviving portion of Publius Papinius Statius’ Achilleid. The intended users of this text-book are those who “have either just finished the first year of college Latin, or second- or third- year high school Latin”. Hadavas also, quite sensibly, assumes that the reader possesses basic ability to recognize and use the basic conjugations and declensions “fairly consistently, if not infallibly”.

The textbook begins with a short (25 page) but useful introduction, which includes sections (inter alia) on: Idiosyncrasies of Statius’ Grammar, Rhetorical/Literary Figures and Grammatical Terms, Meter & Bibliography. The sections are mainly of practical use for the intermediate student, with some additions (e.g., Dactylic Hexameter—The Next Level) for the more advanced or engaged.

The text is laid out in a very user-friendly manner. The left-hand pages have the Latin text with the grammatical and commentary notes directly below. The facing pages on the right-side contains a full vocabulary down to basics such as dare, ut, ad and et, because, “The reader is not assumed to have acquired much Latin vocabulary.” The other assumption made, if not stated, is that the reader will not necessarily read the text linearly but may pick and choose passages. This is especially likely of an instructor, who does not plan to read the entire text with their class. As a result, grammar and vocabulary assistance is repeated throughout the textbook. The repetition of a specific grammar point is verbatim throughout (e.g., ablative of place where—pp 5, 23, 123, 165, 352). Vocabulary assistance is targeted, so that the suggested English translations are specific to the context. Dux is given as “general” (p.103), “leader” (p.95), or “ruler” (p.65). Options for dare include “give” (p.107), “confer” (p.67) or “furnish” (p.55).

There is an interesting appendix added, John Gower’s “Tale of Achilles and Deidamia” from his 1390 Confessio Amantis. The 240-line section has ample assistance to allow anyone without familiarity with middle English to read it. This excerpt, which Hadavas calls it an “offspring of Statius’ poem”, gives students a taste of the reception of the Achilleid, specifically, and Roman literature, in general.

Hadavas has created another excellent resource for the intermediate Latin student, and we can hope for more of the same in the future.