Duff’s first recommendation from the Punica is V.344. This is a scene from the battle of Lake Trasimene. After chasing the Carthaginians into a foggy defile between the lake and some nearby hills, the Romans were ambushed; 15,000 were killed outright, another 5,000 captured and sold into slavery, and a relief force of 4,000 that appeared a few days later was also destroyed.
Duff singles out this scene for its narrative skill. Hannibal’s brother Mago has been in single combat with the Roman Appius, a fearsome warrior who had already slain Mago’s son-in-law. Mago fatally pierced Appius’ skull with his spear, but not before the Roman dealt a debilitating blow to the Carthaginian’s shoulder. Hannibal, ductor Libyae, is alarmed…
Let’s take a look at the passage. I’ll break it down by sentences and offer an “English order” version, along with very brief notes.
A bit off-topic, but I think students of any language (not just Latin) would find food for thought in Guy Deutscher’s cover story from the most recent NY Times Magazine. Of course, anyone who studies a foreign language quickly recognizes a fundamental relation between language and thought (one of the first questions brighter Latin students ask is “How did the Romans know if terra meant “land, “a land", or “the land"). But I guess I never gave the exact nature of the link much thought.
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