Fall 2009

An Introduction to Latin Language and Literature

Listed in: Classics, as LATI-01


Christopher V. Trinacty (Section 01)


This course prepares students to read classical Latin. No prior knowledge of Latin is required. Three class hours per week.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Trinacty.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

A Superlative Poem

Submitted by Christopher V. Trinacty on Thursday, 11/12/2009, at 3:52 PM


A Superlative Poem

by Christopher Spaide


Six adjectives that end in -lis

are adjectival specialists.

In the superlative degree

(best suited for hyperbole)

they end in a linguistic twist—

not tricky as in spades or whist,

but tricky as in, “Huh, that’s weird,

the normal ending’s disappeared.

The stem is there; the stern’s transformed,

irregularly uniformed.

Our -issimus, -a, -um’s become

this new thing called -limus, -a, -um.”

These words, such as, like, similis

but not unlike dissimilis,

include, easily, facilis,

but just hardly difficilis.

Then, simply put, comes gracilis;

last but not least is humilis,

which, modestly, is listed last,

in line with its most humble past.

But note: these six each end with -is.

A question one might raise is this:

How is the neuter form engendered?

(or as the case may be, ungendered)

A Latinist would quickly say

the nominative ends in -e

(which sounds as “ay,” confusingly,

a sound we might expect to see

not at the end, but at the start:

Cf. the alphabet.) Apart

from this sextet, there are no others,

no pseudo-morphologic brothers.

Those few that terminate in -elis

are nice, but do not make the A-list.

This aspiration we’ll forgive—

we can’t all be superlative.