Why Learn Latin

March 18, 2018

You could study Latin because it improves your understanding of English grammar and vocabulary, and helps you make sense of modern foreign languages, law, history, and science. You could study it to gain an understanding of western culture through the ages: looking backwards to the influence of Ancient Greece, and forwards to Renaissance art, Victorian architecture, and literature from Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Dante, to endless modern authors. Or western history: from Napoleon to the U.S. Senate, there’s not much that doesn’t reflect the influence of the Romans. 

 

Or you could study it simply for its own worth. For the absolute joy of translating words written two thousand years ago, like unlocking a treasure trove that shines with jewels once you have the key. A secret to unlock that lets you read the words written by Julius Caesar on campaign in Gaul, in their crisp, action-packed military language; to read Virgil’s epic of Aeneas’ founding of Rome, and understand the precise choice and order of words, in their original Latin, that no translation can capture; to open up the beauty of a love poem written for someone two millenia ago, that can still speak to you directly today.

 

Translating ancient words is a personal experience, a treasure to cherish – but not an exclusive one, available only to the few who are offered the subject at school. In the age of online teaching, and online book purchases, it’s open to anyone to access. You can learn it at home in your own time, or socially as part of a class. Though you’ll need to be disciplined – whichever way you approach it there’ll be grammar that has to be learnt by heart, and vocabulary; and as with any language you’ll need to build your learning systematically – but I can promise you it’s worth it. The joy you’ll get on working out what that Roman poet meant when he chose precisely those words and put them in precisely that order: then you’ll know your work paid off.

 

Some ideas of ways to learn:

  • Take a free online introductory course

  • Buy books and teach yourself – second hand ones are often significantly cheaper 

  • Get private lessons, in person or over the computer: ThinkersMeetUp offer one-to-one or group lessons from beginner to advanced levels, at a time to suit you. Contact us here to find out more or to arrange a tutorial