REPORTER (TERRY ROCKHOLD): I'm going to take you back now to 190 B.C. to the tent of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, a Roman general campaigning against Antiochus III of Syria near the town of Magnesia in Asia Minor. This Scipio is the same man who defeated Hannibal at Zama twelve years ago. We hope to have him tell us later how that battle was won.
Good evening, Scipio. How is the war going?
SCIPIO (TOM THOMAS): Pretty well, I believe. We expect the enemy to attack tomorrow. They outnumber us slightly, but we have a better position and should be able to hold them off.
R: How is it that you met the forces of Antiochus here, though? I understood you had intended to go somewhat farther north.
S: Well, that's true. We hadn't planned to stop at Magnesia.
R: Then why did you?
S: Uh . . . well, it's like this. I've got a cousin who lives here that always used to beat me at hopscotch when we were little, so I decided to see if I could beat him now.
R: You brought your whole army here just so you could play hopscotch? But isn't that a bit undignified for a general?
S: No, not at all. And I'm pretty good at it, too. (Begins to hop around.)
R (restraining him): I'll take your word for it, Skip. I don't believe our audience would be interested in seeing a septuagenarian hop around like a Mexican jumping bean.
S (still bouncing a little): Mexican? What's that mean? And what's a septua-- whatever you called it?
R: Never mind. Uh, who's that over there (indicating the boy)?
S (now standing still): Oh, that's my grandson, Quintus. He's with me here learning military tactics. Quintus, what are you doing now?
QUINTUS (KIRK MILLER): I'm studying my Latin. The tutor who teaches it to me, Mrs. Goodhard, is very particular about my getting my lessons.
R (aside to audience, mouthing the words): Mrs. Goodhard?
S: Oh, really? What are you studying now?
Q: The declension of the pronoun hic. (Stands beside his desk, arms at sides, and recites while staring straight ahead but over the audience's heads.) Hic, haec, hoc. Huius, huius, huius. Huic, huic, huic. Hunc, hanc, hoc. Hoc, hac, hoc.
(Takes a deep breath.)
Hi, hae, haec. Horum, harum . . . .
R (interrupting): I think that's enough, Quintus. The general and I want to get back to discussing battles. (Quintus sits.)
S: No, I think I'd rather practice hopscotching. (Begins to hop.)
R: Uh, uh . . . Scipio? (He has thought of a subject to bring up.)
S (stops): Yes?
R: I notice you have an impressive array of medals there. Could you tell our audience what they mean?
S: Why, of course. This one is for bravery at the battle of Cannae, this one commemorates my command in Spain, this little one is for my wound at the battle of the Ticinus River, and this is in honor of my defeat of Hannibal at Zama.
R: And what about that big, shiny one?
S: Oh, this? Well, this is for perfect attendance at Sunday school. (Reporter turns around and throws up his arms. Scipio hops briefly.)
R (sees Scipio hopping): Now stop that! (He does.) This is supposed to be a dignified interview.
Now, do you have that map of the battle of Zama to show us?
R: You mean to tell me it happened that way? That this plan of warfare brought the Second Punic War to an end?
S: That's right. . . . Hic!
Q (springs to his feet, continues the recitation without missing a beat): Haec, hoc. Huius, huius, huius. Huic, huic . . . .
R: That's enough, Quintus. I think you know it.
Q (hesitatingly, trying to translate "Yes, I know it" in his head): Ita, illud intellegero.
MRS. GOODHARD (DOT GODDARD, walking swiftly into the room): No, no, Quintus, that's not right! A good student like you should certainly know better than that.
R (as she is entering): Oh, no!
S (as she is entering): Mrs. Goodhard!
Q: What are you doing here, Mrs. Goodhard?
G: Never mind that, Quintus. What form of the verb did you use?
Q: Intellegero, I think.
G: You certainly don't know your verbs. What tense were you trying to use?
Q: Uh, present.
G: Well, intellegro or whatever you said certainly isn't present. It's more like the imperfect subjunctive than anything else. Go to the board! (He does.)
You are to give a conjugation of the verb intellego in all tenses, moods, persons, and voices, with translation.
And press down on the chalk and make it dark so that we can see it!
(She goes over to adjust the blinds.)
R: Mrs. Goodhard, we're trying to hold an interview with General Scipio.
G: Well, if you don't get done, you can just come in and see me after school.
S: No, no, you don't understand. (Looks about helplessly, then spies the wine.) Here have some of this. (Drops something in it.)
G: No, thank you.
Quintus! You might as well stop right there. I can see you don't know the principal parts.
S: Have some.
G (to Quintus): What conjugation verb is intellego?
G: All right. (Scipio shoves the wine into her hand, and she unconsciously takes a drink.) So what will the infrintertive --- the inviniviv (the wine is taking effect already) --- sho wut'll thu sheck'nd prinzpl part end end in? (She takes another swig, sets the glass down unsteadily, and staggers toward Quintus.) I ashk'd you a gweshtun, boy.
Q: Uh, maybe I'd better help you outside, Mrs. Goodhard. (Starts to guide her toward door.)
G: Help? I dunneed help, boy; jus' point me shouth, and I'll folla my nose! (So saying, she stumbles out the door.)
R (to Scipio, after a pause while they and Quintus watch Mrs. Goodhard disappear): You surely have some characters around here. But I didn't know the wine was that strong.
S: It isn't, normally, but I drugged it to get rid of her so that you could finish your interview.
R: But I'm out of questions.
S: Out of questions? Well, then, Quintus, he doesn't need to stay around here any more. Let's show him out! (Quintus bodily hustles the reporter toward the door while Scipio hops along behind.)
R: What are you going? Hey! This was supposed to be a reserved, dignified interviee-ee-eew! (Exeunt all.)