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Ecce Romani!

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Ecce Romani!
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Scottish Classics Group


Latin and English



First publication


Most Recent Publication


Ecce Romani (or 'Behold the Romans!) is the title of a series of Latin textbooks that has been produced in four major editions since 1971. It teaches the Latin language through a series of stories, beginning with introductory Latin and moving on to involve deeper concepts and vocabulary. Using stories, students learn the grammar, culture, history, and mythology of Ancient Rome in the 1st century AD.

Major editionsEdit

1st edition (1971)Edit

Prepared by the Scottish Classics Group, published by Oliver & Boyd.

Also available:

  • Student's Companion 1
  • Student's Companion 2

2nd edition (1982)Edit

Prepared by the Scottish Classics Group, published by Oliver & Boyd.

Also available:

3rd edition (2005)Edit

Published by Prentice Hall

  • Meeting the Family (I-A)
  • Rome At Last (I-B)
  • Home and School (II-A)
  • Pastimes and Ceremonies (II-B)
  • From Republic to Empire (III)

Also available:

  • Language Activity Book - for all levels except III

4th edition (2009)Edit

Published by Prentice Hall

  • Level I
    • Level I-A
    • Level I-B
  • Level II
    • Level II-A
    • Level II-B
  • Level III

Also available:

  • Language Activity Book - for all levels except III

Plot summaryEdit

The stories revolve around the wealthy Cornelii family, who live outside the town of Baiae in the Roman province of Campania in AD 80. The family is made up of Gaius Cornelius, a Roman senator, his wife, Aurelia, and their two children, Marcus and Cornelia. The family has also taken in a boy named Sextus, whose mother died the previous year in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, and whose father is in Asia Minor.

In the beginning of the book, Cornelia often plays with her friend and neighbour Flavia. The Cornelii also have many slaves, including Davus (from Britannia, the overseer of their farm) and Eucleides (a Greek, the boys' paedagogus or tutor).

The first chapters all deal with the family's daily life in their villa, particularly the adventures of the children. In one, Cornelia and Flavia are surprised by a wolf in the woods, and Marcus chases off the wolf while Sextus runs away in fear. Later, Gaius receives from the emperor Titus a letter in which he is told he urgently needs to go to Rome. Instead of going alone, he brings everyone in the family, including Sextus.

After their departure, Davus is placed in control of the farm and deals with a runaway slave named Geta in the typical Roman manner, i.e., by capturing him and then branding his forehead with the letters "FUG" (for fugitive).

Meanwhile, as the family is traveling down the Via Appia (Appian Way), a courier goes by quickly, forcing the family's carriage into a ditch. The carriage driver, Syrus, cannot extract the carriage from the ditch, and the family becomes stranded along the side of the road.

Gaius and Aurelia are worried. They finally decide to stay at a nearby inn, owned by Apollodorus. Aurelia understands the dangers that inns pose to wealthy Romans, and is afraid of staying there. Marcus and Sextus, however, are not so fearful, and accompany Gaius to the dining area, where they are told a frightening story by a soldier staying in the inn. Afterwards, the boys are terrified to go to sleep, but both eventually drift off. The next morning, the inn's slaves help Syrus drag the family's carriage from the ditch, and they complete the journey to Rome without further mishap.

Upon arrival, they are welcomed to the city by Cornelia and Marcus's uncle, Titus. Shortly after their arrival Eucleides, Marcus, Cornelia, and Sextus visit the Circus Maximus and watch a chariot race.

In the second book of the textbook series, the Cornelii are preparing to throw a dinner party for friends and family. Cornelia and Aurelia go out into the city to purchase food for the party, and in the streets witness some typical Roman scenes including a terrible fire in an insula (apartment building). Later, at the dinner party, Titus collapses because of inebriation. After the party is over, Eucleides returns home wounded. He had been mugged in a bad part of Rome, the Subura, while coming back from his brother's house. After he recovers, he takes the boys to school, where Sextus disobeys the teacher and is beaten. Two letters now play an important role. In the first Sextus writes about his life in a letter to his distant father. In the second the family learns of the imminent arrival of Quintus Valerius, a distinguished young man whose family is known by the Cornelii. There is a story of pirates, a trip to the baths (thermae), and a retelling of Pyramus and Thisbe, as originally told by the Roman poet Ovid.

Marcus, Sextus, and Cornelia play typical games in between their studies and housework (in the case of Cornelia). Marcus goes to the Colosseum and witnesses the games there. Sometime later, Marcus comes of age, closely followed by Cornelia's marriage to the above named Valerius. The final chapter of Book II is the funeral of Titus.

The final book of the series breaks away from stories about the Cornelii, and students are exposed to reading excerpts of historical Latin by authors such as Petronius, Cicero, and Augustus.

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