WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the point of studying a dead language?
Well, whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the point of studying any language?
If you learn Spanish, one of the reasons you learn the language it so that you can talk to Spanish people. But usually thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the only reason: you might also hope to travel to Spain or Latin America, to interact with Spanish communities, above all to enjoy and appreciate Spanish literature and culture. The same is true of learning Latin. If you learn Latin, you open up for yourself the incredible riches of Roman literature, from CatullusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ lewd love poems to OvidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s playful myths, from CiceroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thunderous political speeches to TacitusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ profound reflections on living under a dictatorship, not to mention the incredible story of Roman history, from Julius CaesarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s famous assassination in 44bc to the emperor ConstantineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conversion to Christianity in ad 312. But you wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just be learning about Roman history and literature: youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll also be learning the entire history of the West. The Romans have served as inspiration and warning for thousands of years, from the art and architecture of the renaissance to the politics of the founding fathers and beyond. It would be impossible to list all the subjects where Latin can be useful: there are lawyers whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve taken a yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Latin to help them with all the Latin terminology in law, musicians whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve found Latin useful for understanding the Latin music theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re performing, and historians whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve found Latin useful for understanding medieval documents.
Why else might you learn Spanish? Well, one of the reasons we teach kids languages in high school is not just to teach them languages but to teach the skill of learning languages. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve done a bit of Spanish, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be in a better position to learn French or Italian later in life if ever want to: youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll know about grammar and vocabulary, and have some idea what techniques work for you in learning languages. But all this is true Ã¢â‚¬â€œ even more so - of Latin. Major European languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian) all come from Latin: if you know that the Latin word for Ã¢â‚¬ËœyouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is tu, you already know the Italian, Spanish and French words for Ã¢â‚¬ËœyouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ too (tu, tÃƒÂº, and tu respectively). And because Latin is a much older language than modern foreign languages, learning Latin teaches you much more grammar than learning a modern European language. Of course Latin can even help us with our English, from spelling (itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot easier to remember to write elegAnt and not elegEnt if you know the Latin word elegAns), vocabulary (our expression bona fide is Latin meaning Ã¢â‚¬Ëœin good faithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢), and even grammar (if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve studied the Latin case system, the English distinction between who and whom suddenly looks a lot easier to understand). And if you have or think you will ever have any interest in linguistics, the science of language, LatinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great choice. As an ancient language, Latin as a language shows lots of interesting features that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t occur in modern languages, and as one of the best documented ancient languages, Latin is very important in the study of how languages change over time. Latin grows your brain in so many ways: there is even now evidence that children from disadvantaged backgrounds given the chance to study Latin improve not only in English and foreign languages but even in math.
I can see that Latin might useful for academics, but employability?
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true that Latin isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t normally a vocational qualification. But neither are plenty of other great subjects. What is extremely employable about Latin (and other subjects) is the transferable skills it teaches. Besides the general skills you show by studying any challenging subject (organization, initiative, perseverance), languages teach specific skills too. When you learn to translate a foreign language, you improve your communication skills: you have to analyse every feature of the language and to the context to understand and interpret fully whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s being said. And as IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already argued, Latin is great for your general thinking skills, whether in language, logic, or even math: these surely are skills valued by every employer.
How can I know if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll enjoy Latin?
Well the quickest way to know if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll like Latin is to come along to the introductory class! But in general, the more youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve studied and (more importantly) enjoyed other languages, the more youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re likely to enjoy Latin.
1. Sex in the afternoonAMABO, mea dulcis Ipsitilla, meae deliciae, mei lepores, iube ad te ueniam meridiatum. et si iusseris, illud adiuuato, ne quis liminis obseret tabellam, neu tibi lubeat foras abire, sed domi maneas paresque nobis nouem continuas fututiones. uerum si quid ages, statim iubeto: nam pransus iaceo et satur supinus pertundo tunicamque palliumque.
My sweetest Ipsithilla, dear,
My cutie, I implore,
Ask me to come at noon, and sweetie,
Please don't lock the door.
Be right at home and waiting for me,
There's no time to lose,
I want you to be ready pet,
For nine continuous screws.
I've had my lunch, I'm lying down
And think that I should mention
My tunic and
Are standing at attention
Catullus Poem 32 (tr. Wender)
2. The historian Cremutius Cordus (who lived during the reign of the emperor Tiberius) defends himself against a charge of treason for having praised Brutus and Cassius, the men who assassinated Julius Caesar, the first emperor.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ verba mea, patres conscripti, arguuntur: adeo factorum innocens sum. sed neque haec in principem aut principis parentem, quos lex maiestatis amplectitur: Brutum et Cassium laudavisse dicor, quorum res gestas... nemo sine honore memoravit... ipse divus Iulius, ipse divus Augustus et tulere ista et reliquere, haud facile dixerim, moderatione magis an sapientia. namque spreta exolescunt: si irascare, adgnita videntur... suum cuique decus posteritas rependit; nec deerunt, si damnatio ingruit, qui non modo Cassii et Bruti set etiam mei meminerint Ã¢â‚¬Â.
egressus dein senatu vitam abstinentia finivit. libros ... cremandos censuere patres: set manserunt, occultati et editi. quo magis socordiam eorum inridere libet qui praesenti potentia credunt extingui posse etiam sequentis aevi memoriam. nam contra punitis ingeniis gliscit auctoritas, neque aliud externi... usi sunt nisi dedecus sibi atque illis gloriam peperere.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬Å“ It is my words, senators, which are criticized Ã¢â‚¬â€œ thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how innocent I am of wrong-doing. But even my words were not directed at the emperor or the emperorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s father, who are protected by the law of treason. I am said to have praised Brutus and Cassius, whose lives no one failed to honour... Julius Caesar himself, and Augustus himself bore and ignored all slander Ã¢â‚¬â€œ whether more through restraint or cunning, I could not easily say Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for what is ignored tends to die down, but if you become angry, it looks like you have made an admission... Posterity pays every man his due honour, and if I am to be condemned, there will be no lack of writers to remember not only Brutus and Cassius but also me as well.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Then he left the senate and starved himself to death. The senators voted to have his books cremated, but they survived, having been concealed and published. So it is pleasant to scorn all the more the stupidity of those who on account of their present power believe that the memory of a future age can be extinguished. On the contrary, talented writers who are punished grow in stature... and [censors] achieve nothing except infamy for themselves and glory for their victims.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, Book 4, chapter 34-35
Location and Times: Monday 9:30am - 10:20am in D34, Wednesday 9:30am - 10:20am in D34, and Friday 9:30am - 10:20am in D34. (If numbers are small, this class may also be held in my office).
Instructor: Will Guast, email@example.com (please do feel free to email me with any questions)
Policy on Grading
Your final mark will be based on two factors: homework and tests, and the final exam. The higher of these two scores will weigh 75% in the final mark, the lower score 25%. This system hopefully respects the achievements both of late bloomers and of those who for whatever reason perform poorly on the day of the final exam.
If you score poorly in a test, it may be possible to retake it.
I reserve the right to refuse late work. In practice, owing the shortness of deadlines for this course, I will accept occasional late submissions: I would only exercise my right of refusal if work came in late with any regularity. (For reference, I refused no late work for Latin last year).
It is very possible for students with learning differences to succeed at and profit from Latin; indeed, MarlboroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s small class sizes have traditionally provided a very supportive environment for this. This class will honor all necessary accommodations for students with documented learning differences. If you have a learning difference or believe you may have a learning difference that requires specific accommodation, please contact the friendly and helpful Megan Littlehales, Coordinator of Disability Services: firstname.lastname@example.org; Megan will let me know what accommodations would be appropriate.
Policy on Attendance
If you miss three classes without very good reason, you will lose your place in the course. Persistent lateness may also harm your final mark.
It is important that you get this edition, which is available from the college bookstore.
1. Cambridge Latin Course Unit 1 (The North American Fourth Edition)
Stephanie Pope, et al.
Children who have studied Latin at elementary school have higher scores for reading, reading comprehension and vocabulary than either those who did not take a foreign language or those who took another foreign language (N.A. Mavrogenes, Elementary School Journal, 77 (1977), 268-273, L.A. Sussman, Classical Journal, 73 (1978), 346-352).
In Philadelphia School Program in the 1970s, the evidence for one school year, 1971, showed that the performance of 5th graders in vocabulary was 'one full year higher than the performance of the control group who had not studied LatinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (N. Mavrogenes, Ã¢â‚¬ËœLatin in the Elementary Schools A Help for Reading and the Language ArtsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ http://www.jstor.org/pss/20299547).
Latin learnersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ intellectual grasp of conceptual activities (Ã¢â‚¬Ëœhigher order thinkingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢) is superior to that of non-Latin learners. One study suggests that not only are they better at vocabulary, spelling and reading, but also in the three areas of maths (computation, concepts and problem solving) and therefore at logical thinking. Latin learners achieve higher than the national average scores for SATS. Another survey comparing Latin with other foreign language learners suggested a higher score for Latin-learners than for those who learn a modern foreign language (A.K. De Vane, Ã¢â‚¬ËœEfficacy of Latin Studies in the Information AgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, http://teach.valdosta.edu/whuitt/files/latin.html; K. F. Kitchell, in B. Lister (ed.), Meeting the Challenge: International Perspectives on the Teaching of Latin (2008), 155).