Thursday, October 22, 2015

How Did Grumio Die? Did Grumio Really Die?

I'm a Latin teacher. And I love the Cambridge series! I learned my high school Latin with a horribly boring book that I hardly remember. But I have students years after they have graduated still talk to me about their fond memories of Caecilius, Metella, Quintus, Clemens, and, of course, that drunken cook named Grumio.

But the Cambridge series left a huge question mark over the fate of Grumio. In this post I will present what we officially know and then share my opinion of what likely happened to the man who famously once got so drunk he thought a painting was a real lion in the house!

It's a bit strange that a book designed to be teaching Latin to students as young as middle school has a character who clearly has a serious drinking problem. In the first true story of the book, "Cerberus," in Stage 1, Grumio is asleep in the kitchen.

By Stage 4, the secret is out, Grumio is so drunk that when the painter paints a lion on the wall of the triclinium, Grumio thinks it's a real lion.

But, sadly, the trait returns the last time we meet Grumio. In the Test Generator for Stage 12, after Mt. Vesuvius has exploded and ash is raining down on the city, there is a test story that advances the plot. 

Clemens has left the Temple of Isis and received a sign (three flames surging on the altar) that convinces him that the Goddess has told him Quintus is still alive.

He encounters a very drunk and despondent Grumio. Clemens tells Grumio that Caecilius is dead. But he hopes that Quintus and Metella may still be alive. Grumio, in his drunken depression, states the following:

"Quintus mortuus est! Metella mortua est! Grumio non mortuus est. nemo est..."
"Quintus is dead! Metella is dead! Grumio is not dead. No one is..."

Clemens sees the ash falling down upon them. He is choking from the poisonous gases descending still upon the city. And he must press on to find Quintus.

And so, in a moment of frustration, of anger, Clemens reacts:

subito Clemens Grumionem pulsavit. coquus nunc exanimatus iacebat.  
Suddenly Clemens punched Grumio. The cook now was lying (on the ground) unconscious.

Now, this would seem to be a very bleak moment for Grumio. He is so drunk that he didn't recognize Clemens. He is now unconscious and lying on the ground, with volcanic ash slowly covering him over. 

Clemens, however, offers a prayer for this hapless fool. He is addressing the Goddess Isis:


"signum tuum mihi spem dedit. hic coquus mihi dolorem dat! 
"Your sign gave me hope. This cook gives me grief!"

"custodi hunc stultissimum servum, dum ego amicos quaero."
"Guard this very stupid slave, while I look for (my) friends."
And that's the last we ever hear of Grumio in the Cambridge Series.
We are left to wonder what could possibly happen next to this beloved drunken fool of a slave known as Grumio.
We are face to face with an argumentum ex silentio. Anyone can state any opinion they want. Grumio died. He didn't die. No one has any data to prove their point.
I will make the following argument. Clemens emerges later in the series as the graced and blessed servant of the goddess Isis. His trust in her saves her when all seems lost in Stage 18 (my favorite chapter in the entire Cambridge Series). 
We may with some confidence assume that the authors of the Cambridge Series understand that his prayer for this "stultissimum servum" is sufficient to save Grumio.
Grumio lived.
I composed a "fan fiction" follow-on to the story as a grammatical supplement for Stage 17. (It uses sentence structures from the story "in officina Eutychi Part One".
Enjoy here a story I composed for my Latin students. It tells the story of what finally happened to Grumio and Melissa.



postquam Clemens Grumionem pulsavit, coquus diu in via urbis dormiēbat.


diu = for a long time
pulso, pulsare, pulsavi = to punch



tandem Grumio, quī magnam dolorem in capite habēbat, animum recepit.




tandem = finally
habeo, habere = to have
dolor, doloris = pain
caput, capitis = head
animus = consciousness
recipio, recipere, recepi = to recover



Grumio prope portum urbis erat.



facile erat illō servō navem invenire, quod multae navēs in hac parte urbis erant.




ille = that
invenio, invenire = to find



Grumio, postquam navem intravit, Melissam conspexit.


“Melissa,” inquit Grumio. “ego laetus sum. tu superfuistī.”



supersum, superesse, superfui = to survive

Melissa Grumionī dixit. “Quid facis nunc?”




facio, facere, fēcī = to do, make

“omnēs rēs amīsimus,” inquit Grumio. “sed tē amō.




omnis = all
rēs = thing
amittō amittere, amīsī = to lose
amō, amāre, amāvī = to love



tēcum iter facere et totam vitam tēcum esse possum?”




tēcum = with you
sum, esse, fuī = to be
possum, posse, potuī = to be able/can
vita = life
iter = journey



Melissa Grumiōnī basium longum dedit.




basium = kiss
dō, dāre, dedī = to give



“ita verō,” inquit Melissa. “reveniamus ad urbem ubi natus sum—Antiochus”[1]


reveniō, revenīre = to return
natus sum = I was born
Antiochus = Antioch



[1] Grumio and Melissa lived to a ripe old age. They even survived a devastating earthquake in Antioch in the year 115 AD. Their descendants are still noted chefs in Syria today.


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