Amanda Hill signed up for it in high school. So did Caroline Cornish. Ditto for 207 producer Nate Eldridge. What is it they have in common? The study of Latin.
The subject came up after I went to Brunswick High School to do a story on Jane Lienau, who has been teaching Latin there for 25 years. This is an instructor who brings a so-called dead language to life. “She makes it fun,” says Augie Lienert, one of her students. “It's paid off. Four years of Latin. I really enjoy it.”
Anyone looking for academic fluff does not sign up for this class. The students are reading some of the giants of western literature—Virgil, Ovid, Catullus—who wrote of human joys and sorrows two thousand years ago. Does this writing, with its elegant structure and stately cadences, still resonate with kids raised on text messages packed with emojis? Lienau answers emphatically: “ 'The Aeneid' is about refugees, right? It's very similar to the plight of what is going on around the world. It's the wanderers and the difficulties they face. Life and death. War. Why does war happen? Why is there pain and love? So these are big questions and we have big discussions about them.”
Seeing the enthusiasm and rigor this teacher and her students bring to this course is nothing less than inspiring. If you're like me, it'll make you wish you'd studied Latin.