"It's ancient history" -- the phrase is often used to dismiss information deemed irrelevant to modern life. But Latin scholar and former teacher Rose Williams considers ancient history pertinent to current events. She gives ancient stories a modern twist, emphasizing the meaning important history may have for today's life.
Rather than just a summary of wars and dates, she considers history a guide, and a warning, for people today. "The human race has not changed in 5,000 years," Williams says. "I'm always looking at the human experience and trying to relate it to my audience. History is the summary of the mud holes people have fallen into and whether or not they got out of them."
Williams has long known how to reach her students and pull them in, giving them an interest in her favorite subject of classical literature. It's no surprise she's able to accomplish the same level of interest in her books published with Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc. Her writings in English, all of which display an ironic humor often seen in the works of the Romans themselves, include brief histories of Rome, a biography of Cicero, a wry retelling of the Aeneid and brief mythology studies. "The Romans are a great help in writing these stories," says Williams. "They have an excellent sense of humor and very few illusions about themselves or anyone else. Romans always have tongues not very far from their cheek."
English titles include "The Original Dysfunctional Family," "From Romulus to Romulus Augustulus" and "The Labors of Aeneas: What a Pain It Was to Found the Roman Race." These stories would make excellent seasonal gifts for readers with an interest in history.
For those beginning Latin study or wanting to go into more depth in their Latin studies, there are her readers, such as "The Young Romans," "Lectiones de Historia Romana" and "Duces Romanorum." Not only are students and readers learning the Latin language in Williams' stories, they're also studying a bit of history. The books are written in chronological order, following Williams' historical subjects and using excerpts from their works. "If students go to the trouble to decipher the Latin," Williams says, "I want them to come away with some information both interesting and worthwhile."
She doesn't just reach out to older Latin speakers either. Williams has a series called "I am Reading Latin Stories." These simple stories, which use pictures and a vocabulary of about 30 basic Latin words related to English, are about little animals learning important lessons of life.
Meet Rena Rhinoceros, who is impatient to be a grownup; Ursus et Porcus, a bear and a pig who learn to be friends; Octavus Octopus, who wants to wear socks and live on land and Taurus Rex, who discovers size and strength are not always enough.
To find Williams' books for the student on your Christmas list, visit www.bolchazy.com and either search for Williams' name in the author search, or click on New and Forthcoming. They can also be found on her Web site, www.roserwilliams.com.