The ‘My Father is a Latin Professor’ Diet

Margaret Cole, Growing Up Into Revolution:

“His [J.P. Postgate’s] chief collaborator in the ‘direct method’ campaign was W.H.D. Rouse, long headmaster of the Perse School at Cambridge, where all the boys were taught on the direct method. Not being a boy, I never had experience of the direct method in class; but I had plenty of it at home. I began Latin on my fifth birthday, by being sent into my mother’s room to announce the event in the words, ‘hodie quinque annos nata sum’; thereafter I had to learn to talk on common subjects in Latin, and on Sundays, when such of the children as could sit upright and feed tidily dined downstairs, I had to ask for my dinner in Latin under the threat of not getting any. I still remember the awful occasion on which, at the age of six or thereabouts, I asked for ‘the beef’ instead of ‘some of the beef,’ and my father pushed the huge sirloin on its dish over in my direction and I dissolved into tears; and I have been told of another time when, having forgotten the Latin for sausage, I was told that if I could say ‘half’ I might have half a sausage – and squealed out ‘dimidium!’ through sobs. There was also a blackboard on which my father drew objects and persons and required me and my two younger brothers to discourse in Latin upon them – the youngest of us, much to his elders’ annoyance, turned out to have much the best memory for the tiresome words we were supposed to know.”

2 thoughts on “The ‘My Father is a Latin Professor’ Diet

  1. Ok, at first, this seemed charming. Then I realized that the father in question might be a sociopath.

    I do wish, however, for a series of anecdotes from children of classicists. Mostly, I would like future anecdotes told by my children now.

    1. That would make for an interesting project! I could put it together and offer it as a companion to Sandys: A History of Classical Childhood.

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