Antiphona (Call-and-Responses) for Latin

There’s nothing like a 30-second snippet of literature that feels like an inside joke! The teacher calls out a phrase, and the students respond in these “antiphona.” Most of these we used in upper school Latin class last year, but the “Sursum Corda” (motions only) was new for Fall of 2020–and used with even the youngest learners.

Sursum Corda

‘Ecce’ = here is
Cor’ = heart
‘Corda’ = hearts
‘Deorsum’ = down
‘Sursum’ = up

Coach saysCoach doesStudents respond
Ecce corMake a heart with hands
Gesture to students to copy
(Make a heart with hands)
Ecce cordaPoint to multiple “hearts” (students’ hands)
Corda deorsumHold heart with hands low to the ground
Gesture to students to copy
(Hold hearts low to ground)
Sursum corda!Hold heart up high in the air(Hold hearts up high)

O Tempora, O Mores!
(famous line from Cicero)

“Oh the times, oh the morals!” 

Cicero was the most famous Roman orator; his speeches are amazing. I tell the kids this is a line they can use when grown-ups are complaining about the modern world! It’s best if you really ham it up.

Here is background if you’d like to tell your students more: Wikipedia on this phrase.
Printable 8.5 x 11 poster with artwork: O Tempora, O Mores!

‘Tempora’ = times
‘Mores’ = habits/customs/behaviors/morals

Coach: O tempora!Hold back of hand to forehead dramatically, lamenting the terrible times!
Students: O mores!(mimic coach)

Arma Virumque Cano
(famous first line from Vergil, Aeneid)

Arms and a man I sing

The Aeneid is an epic poem about Aeneas’ voyage from Troy (which has just fallen) to Italy, where he will settle and found the Roman civilization. Unlike Homer, his model, Vergil does not start with a request to the Muse, but claims that he will sing.

Here is a printable 8.5 x 11 poster with artwork: Arma Virumque Cano

‘Arma’ = arms/weapons (accusative neuter plural — direct object of ‘cano’ I sing)
‘Virum’ = man (accusative — direct object of ‘cano’ I sing)
‘-Que’ = and
‘Cano’ = I sing

Coach: Arma Virumque…Strike a noble pose, chest out and chin up
Students: Cano!(mimic coach)

Nunc Nox, Mox Lux 

Now night, soon light

This is a traditional proverb, which is fun to say in Latin because of all the ‘x’ sounds. 

We saw this word ‘lux’ in the first scripture verse we learned this year.
Having the two rhyming words in the middle and the ‘u’ vowels on the outside creates a kind of chiasm (see literary devices).

Here is a printable 8.5 x 11 poster with artwork: Nunc Nox, Mox Lux

‘Nunc’ = now
‘Nox’ = night
‘Mox’ = soon
‘Lux’ = light

Coach: Nunc noxCover eyes with hands
Students: Mox lux! (make “shining” motion, opening fingers near face)

Aut Viam Inveniam, Aut Faciam!

Either I will find a way, or I will make (a way)!

This is the famous quote attributed to the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, who crossed the Alps by elephant to attack Rome. Here is more background on Hannibal: Wikipedia on Hannibal crossing the Alps.

Here is a printable 8.5 x 11 poster with artwork: Aut Viam Inveniam, Aut Faciam

‘Aut…aut’ = either…or; 
‘Viam’ = way/road (accusative; direct object of ‘inveniam,’ I will find)
‘Inveniam’ = I will find
‘Faciam’ = I will make
Notice that ‘viam,’ a way, is the object of both verbs

Coach: Aut viam inveniam…Scan the horizon for something
Students: Aut Faciam!Point ahead as if leading a charge

Mens Sana In Corpore Sano

A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

This famous quote is from Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal. It is the first item he mentions in a list of what you should pray for in life. Though it is often used now to claim that these things are the most fundamental needs, Juvenal’s intent seems to have been to remind us that rather than praying for long life and plenty, you should pray for health and courage and the ability to live well in the time you have.

Here is a printable 8.5 x 11 poster with artwork: Mens Sana In Corpore Sano

‘Mens’ = mind
‘Sana’ = healthy (feminine nominative to match ‘mens’)
‘In’ = in
‘Corpore’ = body (ablative after the preposition ‘in’ root word is corpus)
‘Sano’ = healthy (the same word as ‘sana’ above, but this time in ablative neuter to match ‘corpore’)

Coach: Mens sanaPoint at brain
Students: In corpore sano“muscles” gesture

Ecce dies quam fecit Dominus / exsultemus!
(adapted from Ps.118)

Here is the day which the Lord made / let us rejoice!

Psalm 118 (117 in Vulgate) says: Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus; exsultemus, et laetemur in ea. (This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.)

‘Ecce’ = here is; ‘dies’ = day; ‘quam’ = which; ‘fecit’ = made; ‘Dominus’ = Lord; ‘exsultemus’ = let us rejoice (subjunctive), cf. the English word “exult.”

Coach: Ecce dies quam fecit DominusHold out hands as if presenting something
Students: Exsultemus!Fist pump

Gaudeamus! Christus Natus Est!
(for Christmas)

Here is a printable 8.5 x 11 poster with artwork: Gaudeamus! Christus Natus Est!

‘Gaudeamus’ = let us rejoice (subjunctive 1pl)
‘Christus’ = Christ
‘Natus’ = born
‘Est’ = is

Coach: Gaudeamus!
Students: Christus natus est!

Christus Resurrexit! Resurrexit Vere!
(for Easter)

The Latin version of the traditional Easter morning greeting

Here is a printable 8.5 x 11 poster with artwork: Christus Resurrexit! Resurrexit Vere!

‘Christus’ = Christ
‘Resurrexit’ = rose again
‘Vere’ = truly, indeed (adverb)

Coach: Christus resurrexit!
Students: Resurrexit vere!
Follow Heather Feldmeth Larson:

Latest posts from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *