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Classical Education

Latin Alive Reader: Latin Literature from Cicero to Newton!

LA Team: Steven, Chris, Karen, and Gaylan at the book release during the national conference for the Society for Classical Learning in Austin, TX.

We are very excited to announce the publication of the fourth and final installment of the Latin Alive series!  The Latin Reader is the fruition of the dream Gaylan and I shared for the series from its earliest beginning. It was our desire to create a series that would train students to read original Latin literature and then enjoy the fruits of such literature, not just from ancient Rome, but literature that reflects the great breadth and depth of Latin influence through the ages. This unique reader provides excerpts of Latin literature that includes the prose of Cicero, Caesar, and Bacon; the poetry of Vergil, Ovid, Queen Elizabeth and Milton; the theological treatises of Augustine, Luther, and Aquinas; and the scientific musings of Pliny and Newton.  And these are only a few of the authors represented!  So great is the content, that we are delighted to welcome Dr. Steven L. Jones as a third author for this special book.  You can read more about Steven on the “about the authors” page of this blog site.

 

As with previous LA books we include biographies of each Latin author so students can learn about the context of each piece: historical, social, and even political.  Footnotes abound which provide further insight to the language, idioms, and cultural references for each piece.  We have also provided a variety of reading comprehension questions (Latin and English) to allow teachers to explore the readings further with students.  For all intents and purposes, this book serves as the basis for a humanities class in Latin.  For my students, this is their favorite Latin class.

Another distinctive unique to this book is the inclusion of a thorough grammar review in the second section.  Teachers and students may use this to review aspects of Latin grammar that apply to the pieces of literature they are reading.  Numerous appendices with reference charts, pronunciation review, and lessons in both Medieval Latin and poetry make this book on Latin literature complete.  There truly is nothing like this in circulation to date.  We are overjoyed to share this treasury with all of you.

You can read more about the Latin Alive Reader on the CAP website, including sample chapters.  Here is a sneak peek at the wealth of literature contained within its pages.  Among these you will see many of the authors and titles often included among the literature lists of classical schools.  This is very intentional as it is our hope through this book to support and enhance the study of these pieces of literature.

  1. Pro Archaia, Cicero
  2. Cornelia Gracchi, Nepos
  3. De Bello Gallico, Caesar
  4. Tria Poemata, Catullus
  5. Aeneid, Vergil
  6. Quattuor Poemata, Horace
  7. Metamorphoses, Ovid
  8. Fabulae Breves, Phaedrus
  9. de Ira, Seneca
  10. Evangelium secundum Sanctum Lucum, St. Luke
  11. Evangelium sucundum Sanctum Mattheum, St. Matthew
  12. Naturalis Historia, Piny the Elder
  13. Institutio Oratio, Quintilian
  14. Alia Epigrammata, Martial
  15. Perigrinatio Egeriae, Egeria
  16. Confessiones Sancti Augustini, St. Augustine
  17. Confessiones Sancti Patricii, St. Patrick
  18. Institutiones Divinarum et Saecularium Litterarum, Cassiodorus
  19. Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, Bede
  20. Vita de Caroli Magni, Einhard
  21. Magna Charta, The 25 Barons
  22. Summa Theologica, St. Aquinas
  23. Epistola ad Ciceronem, Petrarch
  24. Epistola Latina Columbi, Columbus
  25. Disputatio pro Declaratione Virtutis Indulgentiarum, Luther
  26. Stultitiae Laus, Erasmus
  27. Adversus Lutheranos, Cajetan
  28. Carmen et Oratio, Queen Elizabeth
  29. Elegia Secunda, Milton
  30. Historia Regni Henrici Septimi Angliae, Bacon
  31. Principa Mathematica, Newton

In addition, we have provided two readings included on the AP Latin syllabus from Caesar and Vergil.

 

Why everyone should learn the ancient languages.


November 2014

The Latin vote

Later in this issue, the Yale classicist Donald Kagan writes about Sir James Headlam-Morley, the man who occupied the position of Historical Adviser to the British Foreign Office in the 1920s. Headlam-Morley was a fount of good advice about all manner of strategic issues, not least the threat of German militarism. Headlam-Morley’s deep acquaintance with the past allowed him to predict the future with a gimlet-eyed clarity that, unfortunately for the world, most of those charged with steering the ship of state in the post-World War I years lacked. Headlam-Morley, Professor Kagan observes, was “a man with the only proper training for an expert in almost any field of human endeavor, but especially for the conduct of foreign policy and diplomacy: I mean, of course, Classical Studies.”

We smiled when we read that, too. The “of course” was especially nice. A more charming example of disciplinary chauvinism would be hard to find. Except that it is more than disciplinary chauvinism. It is also the simple, pragmatic truth.

It is a truth whose practicality the industrialist and oil man Jean Paul Getty appreciated. Getty, widely reckoned to be the richest man in the world until his death in 1976, employed only classicists to run his worldwide business empire. He understood that mastery of (say) the passive periphrastic was a more important business qualification than an MBA. (Pecunia obtinenda est!) It wasn’t romance but competitiveness that underlay his decision. Asked why he insisted on employing classicists in key positions, he answered bluntly: “They sell more oil.”

We take the story about J. Paul Getty from the opening pages of Gwynne’s Latin, a new introductory Latin textbook by N. M. Gwynne, author of Gwynne’s Grammar, “The Ultimate Introduction to Grammar and the Writing of Good English,” which was a surprise bestseller in England last year and has been making some headway in America since its release here a couple of months ago.

When it comes to grammar, Mr. Gwynne, himself a retired businessman, is a prescriptivist. Not for him the split infinitive, the cringing accommodation to feminists (s/he, using “their” instead of “his” after a singular pronoun like “everyone,” etc.), or the semi-literate but ever popular “between him and I.” The fact that people speak and write that way does not mean that they should speak or write that way. Shakespeare split no infinitives, neither did the scribes who gave us the King James Bible. We should, Mr. Gwynne advises, follow their example. (Incidentally, let us forestall the excitement of impatient readers who clamor “What about Sonnet 142?” Shakespeare there writes “Thy pity may deserve to pitied be.” But that is not a true split infinitive, in which an adverb is interposed between “to” and the verb—“to boldly go”—but is rather an inversion undertaken to preserve the meter.) Gwynne’s Grammar, which we have only begun to read, seems full of good things. If it is half as good as Gwynne’s Latin, it will be a masterpiece—an atavistic masterpiece, perhaps, given the drift of our culture away from the virtues of orderliness, precision, logic, and precedent that Mr. Gwynne advocates, but a masterpiece nonetheless.

Mr. Gwynne is an evangelist for the classics, especially for his chosen métier, Latin. Why learn Latin? Mr. Gwynne lists nearly twenty reasons, many of which will be familiar to anyone who has ever sat through an introductory Latin class. Nearly half the words in English derive from Latin (when they have not come down to us intact); a mastery of Latin grammar helps us better understand English grammar; so much of the jargon of the law, of science and medicine, of our political and civic heritage, is instinct with Latin; Latin is the language of one of the three great world literatures (the others being classical Greek and English); etcetera.

But Mr. Gwynne goes far beyond such familiar recommendations. “What a well-designed course in Latin provides,” he writes, “is a training and development of the mind and character to a degree of excellence that no other mental or physical activity can come anywhere near to bringing about.” Don’t believe him? Hark:

Specifically, it trains these: the ability to concentrate and focus; the use of the memory; the capacity to analyse, deduce and problem-solve; the powers of attention to detail, of diligence and perseverance, of observation, of imagination, of judgement, of taste. In fact, it trains the mind and character to the utmost extent in everything human that is valuable. It does all this as no other academic subject (other than classical Greek), or other activity of any kind at all, can come remotely close to doing.

Latin,” he writes, “is, quite simply, the most utterly wonderful . . . thing.” The ellipsis is in the original. Like the pedestrian abstract noun it precedes, it is occasioned by contemplation of an abundance, not a paucity, of riches. Does it sound extravagant, all this praise for learning a dead language? Just wait.

Mr. Gwynne reminds us of a few pertinent facts. For the last thousand or more years, up until about fifteen minutes ago, i.e., up until the 1960s (O devilish, shadow-casting decade!), Latin and Greek were taught much as Mr. Gwynne advocates and, what’s more, until the 1850s they were virtually the only subjects that were taught in any of the leading schools in Britain. The reason for this exclusive concentration on the classics was not that our forebears were unaware of the importance of other subjects: English, say, or mathematics, or history or geography or other foreign languages. No, schools and universities slighted other subjects because, in comparison with Latin and Greek, they were easy. “Picking them up,” Mr. Gwynne writes, “was something that could more appropriately be done during the school holidays and in other spare time.”

Possibly, but the classics aren’t practical,” you say. Really? Ponder this: the heyday of classical learning in Britain, from the seventeenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries, was also the heyday of British intellectual, political, and economic supremacy. During this period, Mr. Gwynne points out,

Britain shone in every single human endeavour, academic and practical, to such an extent that, “single-handed,” Britain was responsible for the Industrial Revolution and most of the scientific inventions of that period that changed the world, and, for better or for worse, actually ruled about a quarter of the world—and, what is more, all this while producing one of the greatest literatures of every kind of all time.

What do you think, merely post hoc? Or was there an element of propter, of causation, about the contingency that brought a mastery of Latin together with worldly success?

It seems that, since retiring from business, Mr. Gwynne has devoted himself to proclaiming the gospel of the Latin language. Together with his teaching partner (who is also his daughter) he visits schools and even—via the Internet—homes to exhort, inspire, illuminate, and instruct. His method is based firmly on the tried and true example of Dr. Benjamin Hall Kennedy, D.D., whose first Latin primer appeared in 1871 and whose Shorter Latin Primer was known to generations of schoolboys as “Kennedy’s Shortbread Eating Primer” (you needed to be a dab hand with a pen nib to effect the transformation). “The difference in effectiveness between the traditional methods and those used by even the best schoolteachers of today is so astonishing, consistently so,” Mr. Gwynne claims, that the results speak for themselves.

So what can a neophyte who gets outside the material of Gwynne’s Latin hope to learn? One answer is “about as much Latin as a reasonably intelligent eleven- or twelve-year-old would have known in the days when I was at school” (ca. 1950). If that seems like small beer, he quickly adds. “Another answer is: many times more Latin than will be known, in almost all cases, by highly intelligent scholars of today who have passed all their Latin exams and are studying Classics at any of the top universities in Britain.”

For those of you tempted to respond as did the travel writer Alexander Kinglake, who wished to inscribe the legend “Interesting, if true” upon the lintels of churches throughout Britain, we suggest suspending judgment until you conjure with the book and Mr. Gwynne’s methods. You can start doing this today. There is a popular misconception that classicists tend to be enemies of innovation. Mr. Gwynne’s commitment to the traditional method of teaching Latin (the one, he points out, that generations of students have shown actually works) may at first reinforce that misconception. But Mr. Gwynne is not against innovation. He is only against innovation that experience has shown is unproductive where it is not downright destructive. Which is where the 1960s and its legacy of ruin come in. But one need merely look at the Gwynnes’ website gwynneteaching.com to appreciate their readiness to employ new technologies, when appropriate. The online videos show just how infectious, and how effective, the Gwynnes’ pedagogy can be.

It was and probably still is common among classics students to look askance at the Loeb Classical Library, that huge (521-volume) library of the Greek and Roman classics brought to the world by the wealthy Harvard alumnus James Loeb. Since its inception 102 years ago, the pocket-sized Loebs, with their distinctive green (for Greek) and red (for Latin) jackets, have been a familiar fixture in school and university libraries. But because they feature an English translation en face with the original, many students regarded them as slightly infra dig. (which is not to say that most of them did not gratefully avail themselves of the trots when need arose, which, typically, was often). In years gone by, the translations one found in the Loebs were hit or miss. The more glandular passages of Horace, Martial, and many other authors were typically rendered in Italian or (if the author was writing in Greek) in Latin. Translations of other writers were comically out of date. Augustine’s Confessions, for example, was rendered by the English translation of William Watts, 1631.

But for the last couple of decades, the Loeb Library has been undergoing a renaissance. There are new or revised translations of many authors, and, a month or two back, the entire library was brought online at loebclassics.com. There are other searchable classics databases, the Perseus project through Tufts University, for example, or The Packard Humanities Institute’s library of Latin authors, which contains nearly the whole of Latin writing down to 200 A.D. Yet there is still something glorious about having all 500-plus Loebs online. Free trial access is available and an annual subscription for individuals is $195 for the first year, $65 for subsequent years. It’s an extraordinary resource, one which we like to think the exacting Mr. Gwynne would be pleased to welcome to the world.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 November 2014, on page 1

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/The-Latin-vote-7987

Latin’s Effective History

We have been blessed to welcome a number of historical contributors to the Latin Alive series.  These contributors come from several universities across the United States, each one sharing something from his own expertise and love of ancient history.  These vignettes appear in the unit reading chapters along side a piece of Latin literature.  Below is a small sample taken from the introduction to Latin Alive Book 4, generously provided by Dr. Nodes of Baylor University.  Latin Alive Book 4 features a wide variety of readings from the time of Cicero to Newton’s Principia.  Dr. Nodes writes about the incredible influence Latin Literature had on generations far beyond the fall of Rome.

The post-classical or ‘medieval’ Latin language in use from A.D. 400 to 1400 is still Latin, and it conforms in broad terms to the same principles of use as the Latin of Cicero and Vergil.  What’s different is the freer use of the language in terms of the grammar, vocabulary, and regional variations, and the subject matter expressed.  It was common for writers of every part of that long period to speak disparagingly of the classical authors at one time, and yet use their works and even praise them at another time.  The monk and scholar, Alcuin of York, for example, is said to have kept an elder monk company as they kept vigil one night.  At dawn, when the bells sounded morning prayers, the old monk continued to sleep, and immediately he was set upon by demons, who beat him terribly.  The boy Alcuin later prayed, “Lord Jesus, enable me to keep the vigils, and if I will love Vergil more than the Psalms, let me be beaten too!”

But Alcuin was nothing less than a monument of classical learning.  He is said to have died still reciting Vergil!  How can this be?  Scholars have tried to show that the two behaviors are not incompatible, if one remembers that the medievals held classical learning as a means to the goal of spiritual wisdom, and not the goal itself. They wisely could not fail to recognize the greatness of their classical Latin predecessors as an aid to gaining clarity and depth of thought and expression, and a good measure of wisdom.

– from “Latin’s Effective History” by Daniel Nodes (Latin Alive, Book 4)

To learn more about Dr. Nodes and all those who contributed such articles to the Latin Alive series, please see the page titled “contributing historians.”

Why do WE study Latin?

In this post Karen Moore departs from the typical "why Latin" essay to share her passion for this wonderful course of study. Read the rest of this entry »

ACCS 2011, Registration is Now Open!

Repairing the Ruins” Conference in Atlanta, GA

This conference is designed to provide the principles of a classical and Christian education and practical instruction in a broad range of subjects with designations for grammar, logic, and rhetoric level instructors, administrators, and board members.

When: Thursday, June 16, 2011 8:00 AM through Saturday, June 18, 2011 11:55 AM Eastern Time
Where: Renaissance Waverly Hotel, 2450 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339

Connect With Your Peers
Breakfast with other conference attendees.
Discussion groups organized by grade or content level.
Open house with the teachers from the Atlanta Classical Christian Academy.

For More Information Visit www.accsedu.org

Why Major In Classics?

According to Columbia University Classics Program . . .

we believe that the particular training offered by the Classics program will be more useful than most others when it comes to success later in life. Classics is a difficult subject, and students who have mastered Latin and Greek will find other intellectual challenges much less daunting than people who have never learned anything quite so difficult. Classics graduates know how to absorb large quantities of information quickly, retain it, and use it rapidly. They know how to analyse and interpret, to pay attention to details without losing track of the big picture, and to relate a work or event to its context. They have the kind of thorough understanding of grammar that only a training in Latin and Greek can give, and that understanding is reflected in the high quality of their English writing. Having been taught for four years in small classes by professors who know them as individuals and want them to succeed, they have received an education tailored to their own needs and goals. They also have the ability to read some of the world’s greatest literature in its original form, and at times when the task of earning a living seems tedious and uninspiring, many Classics graduates are very glad to have access to the riches of ancient literature, as well as to the many later works which cannot be fully appreciated without a substantial background in the ancient world. In addition, on a crasser level, Classics degrees are highly respected by law schools, medical schools, and employers.

– Columbia University, Department of Classics

Interview with Karen Moore

Recently I was invited to sit down with Dr. Christopher Perrin for an interview on the study of Latin.  We discussed a variety of topics including the benefits of Latin study, Latin pedagogy, teaching tips, the National Latin Exam, and even how I became hooked on this wonderful language.  You can listen to the interview on Dr. Perrin’s own blog site, Inside Classical Education.  Dr. Perrin has a series of interviews here with persons of interest in the classical education movement.  I encourage you to tune in to this series and enjoy some wonderful discussions.

 Dr. Perrin is the head of Classical Academic Press, publishing company for Latin Alive, as well as a consultant and frequent speaker on Classical Education.  He has also written many of the materials published by CAP, including the primer series Latin for Children and Greek for Children.  In addition he has penned a wonderfully insightful booklet titled “An Introduction to Classical Education.”  All can be found on the Classical Academic Press website listed in the blog roll to the right.

A Classical Education: Back to the Future

Here is a recent article by Stanley Fish, a columnist for the New York Times.  The article puts forth a case for classical education by offering opinions from three modern books on the topic and Mr. Fish’s own personal experience.

A Classical Education: Back to the Future

I wore my high school ring for more than 40 years. It became black and misshapen and I finally took it off. But now I have a new one, courtesy of the organizing committee of my 55th high school reunion, which I attended over the Memorial Day weekend.

I wore the ring (and will wear it again) because although I have degrees from two Ivy league schools and have taught at U.C. Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Duke, Classical High School (in Providence, RI) is the best and most demanding educational institution I have ever been associated with. The name tells the story. When I attended, offerings and requirements included four years of Latin, three years of French, two years of German, physics, chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry, English, history, civics, in addition to extra-curricular activities, and clubs — French Club, Latin Club, German Club, Science Club, among many others. A student body made up of the children of immigrants or first generation Americans; many, like me, the first in their families to finish high school. Nearly a 100 percent college attendance rate. A yearbook that featured student translations from Virgil and original poems in Latin.

Read the rest of the article online at the New York Times.

Visit Chris Perrin’s blog site, Inside Classical Education, to read his response to the article.

Why Classical Languages Matter

This month I was delighted to read a great article by Joanna Hensley on "Why Classical Languages Matter." I found myself yelling "Amen! Preach it, Sista!" at my computer screen. Here is a tantalizing tidbit Read the rest of this entry »

Latin Preparation for Teachers and Parents

Are you a parent/teacher who would wishes you had an opportunity to learn Latin?  Are you a Latin teacher that wishes you had time to go back and take some graduate courses?  Well, your wish has been granted.  Several university classics programs offer summer courses.  Here are a couple of excellent programs I have been made aware of recently.  Check your area college or university to see what they might be offering.  Some programs allow adults to audit a course for only a small fee without actually enrolling in the college.  If you find a good program, post a comment and let us know!

 University of Texas at Austin

Please note the following classics courses to be offered this summer at the University of Texas at Austin, which may interest you and/or your students. 
For more information contact Lynn Gadd ( 512-471-8502). 
 
Intensive Summer Greek
June 3-August 16
Latin
First Session: June 3-July 10
LAT 506: Beginning Latin I
LAT 311: Intermediate Latin I (Vergil)
LAT 323: Catullus.
Second Session: July 12-August 16
LAT 507: Beginning Latin I
LAT 312M: Intermediate Latin II: Readings in Latin Prose
Classical Civilization
First Session: June 3-July 10
CC 301: Introduction to Ancient Greece
CC 304C: Introduction to Ancient Egypt
CC 306M: Introduction to Medical and Scientific Terminology
Second Session: July 12-August 16
CC 302: Introduction to Ancient Rome
CC 303: Introduction to Classical Mythology

University of Georgia CLASSICS SUMMER INSTITUTE 

http://www.classics.uga.edu/New%20Folder/summerinstituteposter.pdf
Each year the Institute offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate Latin and Classics courses, including, in odd-numbered years, Intensive Beginning Greek and, in even-numbered years, Intensive Beginning Latin. The Institute curriculum is supplemented by workshops and guest lectures by visiting master teachers and other scholars. The program is designed especially for Latin teachers who wish to continue their education or earn a Master’s degree in Latin on a summers-only basis. The faculty
of the Department of Classics share in a tradition of cooperation with high school teachers and their programs that culminates each summer in an exciting and challenging curriculum. Here are the offerings for the summer of 2010:

First Short Session – June 14 – July 2, exam on July 6
LATN 2050 – Intensive Latin, I 12:30 – 3:15 pm, Park Hall 225, Dr. Christine Albright
CLAS 8020 – Archaeology of Carthage, 9:00 – 11:45 am, Park Hall 228, Dr. Naomi J. Norman

Second Short Session – July 7 – July 27, exam on July 28
LATN 2060 – Intensive Latin II, 12:30 – 3:15 pm, Park Hall 225, Mr. Randy Fields
LATN 4/6020 – Roman Epic(non-Aeneid selections), 9:00 – 11:45 am, Park Hall 228, Dr. T. Keith Dix

Through Session – June 14 – July 26, exam on July 27
CLAS 8000 – Proseminar, 2:14 – 4:05 pm • Mondays Only, Park Hall 222, Staff
LATN 6030 – Caesar, 12:45 – 2:00 pm, Park Hall 115, Dr. John Nicholson