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2009 HSC Notes from the Marking Centre – Latin



This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 Latin courses. It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2009 Higher School Certificate examinations, indicating the quality of the responses and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses.

This document should be read along with the relevant syllabuses, the 2009 Higher School Certificate examinations, the marking guidelines and other support documents which have been developed by the Board of Studies to assist in the teaching and learning of Latin.

Teachers and students are advised that, in December 2008, the Board of Studies approved changes to the examination specifications and assessment requirements for a number of courses. These changes will be implemented for the 2010 HSC cohort. Information on a course-by-course basis is available on the Board’s website.

General comments

Teachers and candidates should be aware that examiners may ask questions that address the syllabus outcomes in a manner that requires candidates to respond by integrating the knowledge, understanding and skills they developed through studying the course.

Candidates need to be aware that the mark allocated to the question and the answer space (where this is provided on the examination paper), are a guide to the length of the required response. A longer response will not in itself lead to higher marks. Writing far beyond the indicated space may reduce the time available for answering other questions.

Candidates need to be familiar with the Board’s Glossary of Key Words which contains some terms commonly used in examination questions. However, candidates should also be aware that not all questions will start with or contain one of the key words from the glossary. Questions such as ‘how?’, ‘why?’ or ‘to what extent?’ may be asked or verbs may be used which are not included in the glossary, such as ‘design’, ‘translate’ or ‘list’.

For prescribed texts, translations should be coherent and fluent, and not awkwardly literal. In translating a passage of unseen Latin, candidates are urged to read the heading carefully and to make effective use of the dictionary entries provided. Candidates are reminded to write translations on alternate lines, as directed, and read all questions carefully, address all required elements and include only relevant information in their answers. Also, if using a quotation from the text, candidates should demonstrate their understanding of how that Latin is relevant, and should avoid using a Latin word in isolation without regard to its place in the structure of the Latin sentence. Candidates are advised to use an ellipsis when quoting more than a few words from an extract, in order to avoid copying long sections of the text.

The marks allocated to a question indicate the depth and/or breadth of response required. Better responses communicate a thorough knowledge of the meaning of the extracts by supporting the explanation or analysis with relevant and valid examples and by explaining the link between the examples given and the aspect being assessed – a simple listing of examples is not sufficient. A question involving analysis requires a discerning and well-developed argument.


Section I – Prescribed Text – Cicero, In Verrem, Book V

Question 1

  1. In the best responses, all Latin words were accounted for, even the small and easily overlooked sed, ita, enim, and the agreement of adjectives was carefully observed, eg quidam with murus, boni with imperatoris. Candidates offered a variety of excellent translations with regard to the rhetorical questions.
  2. The best responses demonstrated a clear understanding of the context of this extract. The better responses took into account dolore and odio with reference to in istum, and metu with reference to communis periculi. In the better responses, the significance of tum, ‘on that occasion’, and Cicero’s vivid description of the behaviour of the crowd which caused Glabrio to cut the hearing short, were accurately conveyed. Good responses showed careful attention to details of case and number, tense and voice. This was particularly necessary for the final sentence, in order to identify the subject of veritus esset, ie populus Romanus, and the antecedent of quas, ie eas poenas.

Question 3

    1. Most candidates correctly identified Manius Aquilius as a Roman military leader who ended the slave uprising in Sicily. It was unnecessary to provide any further information to answer this question successfully.
    2. In the best responses, candidates extracted the key points of Cicero’s argument and expressed these succinctly. Candidates were expected to outline the content of the arguments only from the given extract, as directed by the question.
  1. Better responses focused on persuasion, Cicero’s purpose and the fact that there was an audience for Cicero’s words. Better responses also acknowledged the word ‘complete’ from the question and framed their answers accordingly, arguing that Cicero selected his content judiciously and used his powers of persuasive language to convey a devastating image of Verres. Although an equal balance of ‘language’ and ‘content’ was not necessary, it was nevertheless important to address both aspects adequately.

    Most candidates mentioned the deliberate contrast Cicero makes between Verres and Annius, as well as between Verres’ total lack of restraint and the Roman people’s astonishing powers of control, when faced with a villain like Verres. Better responses mentioned the linguistic contrasts, eg dicit: taces; negat: fateris, Cicero’s use of exclamations, his positioning of words, eg duos, civem Romanum as well as the tricolon, … accepisse … sumpsisse … percussisse, and the resultant alliteration. Some candidates recognised the irony implicit in the exclamation O clementiam … singularem! In identifying features, better responses communicated understanding of the meaning of the technical vocabulary in their commentary.

    Most candidates were able to contextualise Verres’ villainy from an awareness of the late Roman Republican values which were suggested by the extract. The best responses were succinct, well-planned and logically sequenced.

  2. Better responses clearly and directly addressed the question, instead of expanding in a general way on the focus areas. They identified the specific emotions provoked by Cicero and clearly analysed how these emotions were aroused by both the language and the content of Cicero’s speech.

    Candidates identified and analysed a variety of forensic methods, including Cicero’s effective use of diction, repetition, imagery (both visual and auditory), exclamation, and direct speech. Some candidates also commented on the cumulative effect of these techniques in creating a scene of great pathos.

    Many candidates displayed a good knowledge of the technical terms of rhetoric included in the syllabus. It was important to use these terms correctly and to relate them clearly to their emotional effect on the audience.

Section II – Prescribed Text – Virgil, Aeneid VIII

Question 4

  1. Better responses accounted for all three colour references candida, concolor and albo and linked them with the correct nouns. These responses also displayed sensitivity to the author’s intent, recognising the deliberate use of tibi twice referring to Juno. The better translations demonstrated a perceptive understanding of the relationship between the words and the structures and acknowledged the result clause indicated by ita … ut with its verb sterneret. It was important to ensure that each word in the extract was accounted for and not glossed over in a paraphrase.
  2. The best translations recognised that the word ipse referred to Augustus and that Aeneas was the subject of miratur. Neither heroic figure was mentioned by name in the extract. The best responses recognised the agreement of adjectives and nouns in phrases such as niveo candentis limine Phoebi and extremique hominum Morini. These responses also understood the syntax of quam … tam as comparative rather than exclamatory, and Mulciber as the subject of finxerat. The best translations linked ignarus with rerumque and imagine with gaudet.

Question 6

    1. Most responses recognised that Cleopatra and her barbarian forces were included to provide a contrast with the Romans, thus glorifying the victory of Augustus at Actium.
    2. Better responses demonstrated an understanding that the inclusion of divine forces enhanced the significance of the Battle of Actium and glorified the Roman victory by showing the superiority of the Roman gods over their exotic Egyptian counterparts.
    1. Most candidates stated that Tiber had instructed Aeneas to go to Pallanteum to seek an alliance. The better responses communicated clearly that they understood the particular circumstances that had prompted Aeneas to come to Pallanteum, rather than stating why he needed an alliance.
    2. Most candidates identified at least one example each of Pallas’ words and actions. Better responses offered a clear explanation of how Pallas’ words and his actions indicated his potential as a heroic figure. Only the most perceptive responses established a link between the actions/words and heroism, rather than merely stating that an action was heroic.
    3. Most candidates scanned the lines and marked out six foot-divisions, including the compulsory hexameter ending. Better responses acknowledged the elision of the final vowel before the initial ‘h’ in pacemne huc and the vocalic ‘u’ in obstipuit.
    4. Better responses demonstrated a range of suitable examples of sound contributing to tone and/or mood in each of the lines specified. Most candidates recognised that the dactyls in line 114 contributed to the urgent, questioning tone, and that the spondees in line 121 contributed to the awed/solemn tone. Other candidates mentioned examples of alliteration which contributed to the different tones of the two lines.
  1. Better responses demonstrated a clear understanding of the specific objects and their associated features and analysed the significance and effectiveness of the visual representations in terms of both language and imagery. Only the more perceptive responses sustained the analysis consistently throughout.

Section III – Unseen Texts

Question 7

Many candidates demonstrated a good understanding of the overall sense of the extract. Better responses showed careful attention to case, gender and agreement, eg femineo ululatu, sera requies, meae senectae, solam, illa and ille, as well as to person and tense of verbs, eg aspicio and potuisti. The best translations demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the vocabulary prescribed in the syllabus so that amens was recognised as ‘out of her mind, crazy’, and also showed good use of the vocabulary provided to identify the parts of speech and choose the most appropriate meaning. The best translations accounted for the function of the pronouns illa, hunc and ille, and perceptively rendered non illa memor as ‘she did not notice …’, ‘she was indifferent to …’. The better translations also accounted for every word, in particular, prima, dehinc, tune, ille, sera.

Question 8

The best translations demonstrated careful attention to morphology, so that cases were recognised and properly accounted for, eg Romae (locative) and the ablatives in apposition comitatu, regio atque ornatu, and patre, avo, maioribus, regibus. The better translations identified maioribus as ‘ancestors’ and recognised that regio is an adjective. Some candidates also demonstrated thorough knowledge of the prescribed vocabulary and distinguished fere from ferre and praeceps from princeps and praetor. Again, in the better responses, the tenses of fuisset, putasti and audirent were accurately translated, and the very Ciceronian tricolon of indirect statements depending on audirent (violatum amicum) was recognised.


Section I – Prescribed Text

Question 1

  1. In the better responses all Latin words were accounted for, including the small and easily overlooked, such as ut, alta, super and simul. Better responses also accurately reflected the number of flumina and the tense of constiterint.

    The best responses translated the participles laborantes and deproeliantes effectively, and conveyed the force of the adverbs large and benignius, noting that the latter was in the comparative. The best responses also showed sensitivity to the time factor implicit in nec iam, and differentiated between the specific meanings of gelu and frigus. Candidates should spell proper names correctly, eg Soracte and Thaliarchus.

  2. Most candidates translated this poem with a high degree of accuracy. Better responses accounted for every Latin word, paying careful attention to the small but important words such as iam, nil, certe, tute, idem, nunc and at. Better responses also gave idiomatic renderings of some of the more challenging Latin constructions such as iam te nil miseret, me miserum in malis, quasi tuta omnia mi forent and quae te faciet tui.

    Most candidates captured the tone of the poem, providing a range of colourful and evocative translations for the various terms of abuse employed by Catullus, such as immemor, false, dure, perfide and inique. The best responses recognised quae as the object of neglegis and gave an appropriate translation for the subjunctives faciant, habeant and forent.

Question 2

    1. Most candidates clearly and correctly identified the attributes to which the three titles of Diana referred.
    2. Many candidates were able to identify formal features of prayer and to link them to an atmosphere of solemnity and reverence. The better responses mentioned such things as the invocation of the goddess by a number of titles and the ‘escape clause’ in lines 21–22 as contributing to the reverent tone of the extract. Better responses also conveyed their understanding as to why the poet mentions the goddess’s past good deeds. The best responses drew attention to the language of the poem, typical of prayer, such as the repetition of tu tu tu tibi, and to the archaic language of the final stanza, which lends the poem an air of solemnity.
    1. Most candidates outlined the main points that Horace is making about the subject of death, such as the time of death being unpredictable and death itself being irreversible or inescapable.
    2. The best responses identified the mythological references and explained how they reinforced the finality and inescapability of death and its irreversibility.

Question 3

Candidates displayed their knowledge and appreciation of the lyric poetry of Catullus and Horace. The better candidates gave a balanced treatment of each poem and their responses focused on both content and poetic techniques, integrating them into a discerning and well-structured analysis. Most candidates identified and analysed the emotional and physical effects on Catullus as a man in love. With Horace, better responses acknowledged the mock-heroic features of his self-depiction as a man in love. Although a comparison was not essential, many discerning responses recognised the differences in tone in each poem.

Section II – Non-prescribed Text

Question 4

  1. The best responses demonstrated precise understanding of the syntax and of Horatian word placement, recognising that Notus is the subject of distinet and mater the subject of both vocat and demovet. Better responses also correctly linked invido flatu with Notus and showed understanding of the comparison in spatio longius annuo. Only candidates with thorough knowledge of the vocabulary in the syllabus were able to recognise the meaning and function of cunctantem (agreeing with iuvenem), ominibus (not omnibus) and icta (agreeing with patria and linked to desideriis fidelibus).
  2. Most candidates were able to identify appropriate examples of imagery from the passage, discussing for example the language of light and warmth associated with Caesar Augustus (lines 5–8) or the comparison of the Roman people to a mother awaiting the return of her son (lines 9–12). The best responses clearly explained how these images evoked and contributed to the sense of longing created by Horace in this extract. The best responses were concise and focused only on relevant points.


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