One of the reasons I wasted several years studying history at university, instead of something useful like languages, or business, or basically anything else, was a childhood fascination with all things military: guns, of course, but also equipment, the organisation and deployment of troops, tactics and strategy, and so on.
La storia di Roma, Episodio 12, L’esercito (the army) covers such fascinating topics as ‘Gli schieramenti’ (the typical formations used by troops in battle), ‘Chi sono i legionari?’, ‘L’equipaggiamento del legionario’, ‘Cosa mangia un legionario?’, ‘Le punizioni’, ‘Il potere militare e il potere politico’, and finally, ‘I pretoriani’.
You probably knew that Roman soldiers wore sandals, but did you know that their footwear was nailed underneath, just like the boots British troops wore in the trenches of WWI? So as to grip better when climbing up muddy English hillsides in the rain, I suppose. They were probably also useful for stamping on the faces of revolting locals.
E poi, as the empire grew, men from the new Roman provinces (first other places in Italy, then further afield) were used to support the ‘proper’ Roman army. These perhaps less-disciplined and reliable allies were used on the flanks to support the trained legions placed in the center of the battle line up.
There’s much more to discover in today’s text: common soliders ate black bread but officers got white, the punishment for falling asleep on duty was to be abandoned for a night outside the camp, and so on.
So why not take a look?
Or catch up on the episodes you might have missed here: La storia di Roma
But if you’re just not that into history, not to worry. You can still build your Italian reading and listening skills by listening to the latest bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news at EasyItalianNews.com. Breaking news! The pyramids were constructed by aliens, according to Elon Musk. Now THAT’S history for you!
N.b. Hate reading and listening? And speaking? And writing? But love grammar? Come right this way madam, sir, we have just the thing for you: Grammar Exercises Index.
Club member Penny, who I have met and know to be an experienced language teacher and learner, wrote in with some advice, inviting me to quote her. And given that it doesn’t cost more to publish a long article than a short one, I will.
(I’ve edited slightly):
WHAT I HAVE LEARNT
– it’s important to work at your level. You only get disheartened if you attempt something beyond it and that is demotivating
– learning a language is a loooong process so don’t expect to be fluent in six months
– the importance of the receptive skills… listening and reading. I know teachers never emphasise this enough
– when listening and reading do not expect to understand every word. It is enough to get the overall meaning (reading for gist). If you try and look up every word you will lose the flow. When we were embarking on ‘Il nome della Rosa’ I thought Daniel’s comment that there is a difference between reading for study and reading for reading’s sake very insightful. And you find you learn the language without consciously learning
– your strategy for using the easyitalian news (listen without text, listen with text then listen again), brill. Combined with making a proper italian coffee and emptying the dishwasher I have made it part of my morning routine
So thanks for that, Penny. Bear in mind, please, that Penny’s level in Italian is pretty good, and so the approach to listening that she mentions in the final point is NOT what I would suggest for lower level learners, which is explained on this page, along with various alternative suggestions.
And of course, if you’d like to add your own tips (“Look up every word you don’t know in a dictionary, attempt to memorise the long list, then kill yourself in despair when you don’t manage to”), please do so by adding a comment under this article.
Click here to visit the website, scroll down to the bottom, and complete the ‘Comments box’.
A lunedì, allora!