Quare id Faciam: The Latin Puzzle Book

Julian Morgan’s latest book is just out and should be of interest to the wider classical community as it is entirely written in Latin. Mindful that followers of the Classics Library like to be kept abreast of latest developments in the field, I decided to ask him a few questions about the project.

This is a strange title for a puzzle book. Could you explain it?

Thanks. I’d had it in mind for ages to write a book that was completely in Latin and I wanted to take a literary starting point for it. In the poem odi et amo Catullus says he loves and he hates and then feels himself asked about why he does it – quare id faciam. He says fieri sentio, which is more or less how this book evolved – I just felt it happening and it did.

There are two facets to the title, as may be clear. One is why I as an author should choose to do this project and the other is why you as a reader should choose to get yourself a copy. It’s part self-introspection and part an exhortation to the puzzled public. 

You claim that Cicero himself could have solved the puzzles. Is that meant seriously?

Yes, actually, it is. By this I am trying to say that the book uses classical Latin and that the puzzles should be accessible to anyone who has a mastery of this.  

How is this different from your other books?

The most obvious thing is that it is all in Latin. Call it lockdown Latin, perhaps! I have wanted to do this for ages, as I explain in the Introduction. In fact, I was reminded recently by an ex-student that I had been talking about this back in 2016, so the idea has been quietly simmering and evolving. 

The book is a collection of 100 word games (101 if you count the hidden one) which don’t require much in the way of historical or cultural knowledge but will really challenge the linguists among you. I especially enjoyed creating Latin honeycombs for the first time. This is definitely not a book for Latin beginners, though actually the content itself is relatively low-brow. 

A reinvention for me was that when I wrote this book, I made extremely limited use of technology. Most of the puzzles were originally written by hand on blank pieces of paper, with my battered old Lewis and Short at hand. Of course I used online resources to check and reference word usages but mostly that came after the original work was done.

What’s that about a hidden puzzle?

That’s for you to find out! Suffice to say that there is a so-called Album optimatium on the book’s webpage, where names of any worthies who solve it will be recorded.

What is that on the cover?

It’s a 3D image I made to reflect the purpose of the project. QUARE ID FACIAM was influenced very much by the arrival of lockdown and the coronavirus, so I wanted the cover to send out the message that the Latin language can provide relief even from dreadful situations. We don’t always remember that our classical studies are a source of joy for life and I felt it was important to underline that when I put this collection together.

Where can I get my copy of the book?

Just follow the links from http://www.j-progs.com/QiF/QiF.html. Or if you go on Amazon and type in QUARE ID FACIAM, it should pop right up at you.

The last question then, what’s next?

Who knows? I am lucky in that I can choose to work on things I enjoy. Watch this space, or rather, follow me on @imperiumlatin and you’ll be kept up with the latest news.