Derek Harrison's Crossword Message Board

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Re(2): Latin crossword

Yes, that's right, Derek. The O Tempora! Latin Crossword is accessible via the main Crosswords page in Puzzles on The Times website. On the Crossword Club, it's accessible via a link in Latest News at the bottom-right corner of the homepage.

Here is the full press release from The Times:



LONDON, Saturday, October 10, 2015: The Times today launches a weekly Latin crossword, 85 years since its first foray into puzzles.

The Times published its first crossword in 1930, which quickly became very popular, so much so that one month later The Times ran a crossword in Latin for those of a more “exacting intellectual standard”. After 85 years, and with the classics enjoying a revival, it seems time to try it again with a tabula rasa (clean slate).

The aim is to preserve and amplify everything that is most appealing about learning the Latin language: its oddness, its rigour, the Romans’ spirit of whimsy and affection for wordplay.

Called O Tempora! and compiled by “Auctor”, the puzzle, which can be found in the Saturday edition of The Times, is a mixture of straight and mildly cryptic clues, mainly in English, with all the answers in Latin. Some of the clues can be easily solved by those with a basic grounding in the language.

Nine across, for instance, requires you to find a word that means a singer and is the Latin translation of “on high” (clue: think about the voices in a choir). Others require a bit more thought. As with our cryptic crossword, it becomes easier with practice.

The name of our new crossword comes from Cicero’s exclamation against the dissolute customs found in Rome in 63BC — “O Tempora! O Mores!” — which roughly translates as “Oh the times! Oh the customs!”

Latin is growing in popularity. It is taught in more than 700 state schools and 450 independent schools — twice the number in 2000 — with some 50,000 pupils starting to learn it each year, of whom a quarter take it at GCSE.

The first Times crossword appeared on February 1, 1930, with the Latin crossword appearing a month later. Three weeks after that, thinking that our readers were still not being stretched, The Times published a crossword in Ancient Greek. Despite both attracting letters of praise — one reader said that the Greek crossword had “agreeably shortened” a long train journey — the experiment was not repeated until now.

Announcing the last Latin crossword 85 years ago, we promised “exhilaration and the stimulus of feeling oneself a clever fellow”. Times may have changed a good deal since then, but the thrill of seeing your intellect operating at full stretch remains largely the same. As Virgil once wrote, audacibus annue coeptis: and good luck.


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