Posted by Dennis » 4 Comments »
I picked up Robert Harris’s Imperium as a little bedtime reading and as I opened to the map of Republican Rome just before the start of the book my eyes passed over the first letters of Quirinal, Viminal, and Esquiline. In a flash I’d read them as QVE, and it wasn’t a second before I read the top half of the map as CapitolinvsQVE.
The bottom half gave me AC Palatinvs, but putting these two together in that order didn’t quite work, so I decided to take another tack:
What are the three most important hills in the city’s history?
This has the advantages of (1) requiring students to memorize only three names (while they can more easily recall the others from the abbreviations), (2) using Latin conjunctions for the abbreviations, reinforcing a bit of the language, and (3) being somewhat visual. It gives the Seven Hills and the Janiculan, an important defense across the Tiber, read in a kind of S shape from bottom to top. I can’t help but visualize a map of Rome when I recite this and follow a steady S-shaped trail (Janiculan, then Aventine, Caelian, Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, and Esquiline).
You can also think of the first line as giving what’s west of the Tiber, the second line naming the hills of the southern half of the city, and the third line those of the northern half of the city.
However you break it down, I think it may turn out to be effective and I plan to use it next semester.
UPDATE: 23 February 2010.
I’ve since put this up on Google Maps:
The 7 Hills of Rome (plus 1)
View The 7 Hills of Rome (plus 1) in a larger map
Check out the other posts on the subject of plotting ancient sites with Google Maps