Enthusiasts in Italy – the ancestral home of Latin – have launched “Hebdomada Aenigmatum”, which translates as “Weekly Puzzles” in English, a compendium of crosswords, word games, Sudoku and puzzles, all in the language of Caesar and Cicero.
The magazine, which despite its title is published monthly, has been a surprise hit, with more than 3,000 subscribers signing up since it was launched in the summer.
While the first edition was a relatively simple affair, the latest extends to 14 (XIV) pages.
The simple crossword includes clues about Hercules’ weapon of choice (I down: “clava”, or club) and the acronym “SPQR” (III down: Senatus PopulusQue Romani, or the Senate and People of Rome).
It even includes a comic strip featuring Incredibilis Snupius – or Snoopy to non-Latin speakers.
“So far we have focussed just on Italy but we’re now hoping to attract interest around the world,” Luca Desiata, the editor, told The Telegraph. “We’ve had a couple of hundred subscriptions from France and about 100 from the UK.”
The inspiration for the magazine came from Mr Desiata’s school days in the 1980s, when he used to make up puzzles and word games to learn Latin.
“I was very passionate about Latin and I thought I’d revive the idea. It’s a fun way of learning the language. Some of our subscribers are teachers who use the magazine as a tool to teach their students – we even have one from the Faroe Islands.
“But there are also doctors, lawyers and general Latin enthusiasts. And we’ve had interest from priests at the Vatican, where Latin is still the official language,” said Rome-based Mr Desiata, 43, whose day job is as an executive at the Italian energy company Enel.
Giving himself the Latin appellation Lucas Cupidus, he runs an organisation called My Latin Lover, which promotes the modern-day use of Latin, more than 1,500 years after the collapse of the Roman Empire.
The language of the legions is undergoing a modest revival, with Latin radio stations and contemporary best-sellers such as Harry Potter translated into Latin.
The puzzle and crossword magazine is available for download, free of charge, at Mr Cupidus’ website. Is our famous Classicist Mayor, Boris,a subscriber ? Crossword Answers Across: I Cassi , VI Lupus, VII Atque, VIII Versu, IX Am Down: I Clava II Autem III SPQR IV Suus V Iseum. Thanks courtesy the Daily Telegraph
Rome at Night. Painting by Mitro