The reading pile grows. First of note is the Cambridge Latin Course Bk 2 – I previously mentioned that this year I’ve started to learn Latin. Well, I’m almost at the end of the first book, which feels very satisfying indeed. The Cambridge Course is fantastic – I can’t praise it enough. Instead of being hammered with verb tables and the like, it actually takes you step by step through learning the basics of the language, but how it functions in context, too. You gradually layer up your understanding of the various cases, declensions and so on.
From the rest of the books from writers such as Seneca (Six Tragedies), Plutarch (The Fall of the Roman Republic), Juvenal (Sixteen Satires) and Terence (The Comedies), you can see my mind is still very much focussed in the ancient world. It’s stopped being overt research long ago – I mean, I’m not writing about it explicitly in the new series anyway, I’m invoking it. Aside from classical city structure, architecture and so on, I’m now very much intrigued by the mindset of writers at the time (Juvenal in particular is biting and very funny), in order to glean anything useful.
The Cambridge Latin Course is the one I did at grammar. Caecilius and so on were pretty cool – actually, my teacher looked a fair bit like Caecilius.
It’s not like a lot of language courses where it’s devoid from, well, anything but cheesy outdated crapness (I remember my French textbooks having a lot of ’80s/’90s pictures of French teens in bright clothing and angular cars), it’s as much a history text as it is a language tool, and it’s as much those as it is a very interesting look at the Roman way of life.
Funny thing is that their website hasn’t changed since I started the course… almost ten years ago.
I would quite like to have studied Latin when I was in a grammar school – they didn’t offer it, but did try us with Old English. When I moved across country to a place with no grammar schools, it was back to bog standard cheesy French texbooks!
Latin is one of those subjects that needs the right teacher and the right materials. I was lucky to have both (somehow came out with a D, but languages are not my forte, even though I somehow ended up with an A in French (definitely a mistake as I basically spent all five years failing it!)). If you can teach yourself Latin then go for it, and it seems like you’re doing just that, but I can’t deny that my Latin teacher did more to interest me in history than my history lessons.
But yeah, French textbooks? “Il s’appelle Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul est un People. Pourquoi?” or something to that effect. Yeah. French was a bit rubbish but come on, you’ve got to admit pamplemousse is an awesome word.
Je m’appelle Kathryn, et je suis un pamplemousse.
Actually, my partner is teaching me – she did an A-Level in Latin, so it’s not a solo mission!
Ego sum Mark!
cogito ergo caudex sum
I remember this much, though. No capital letters 😉
Tacitus ‘The Annals of Imperial Rome’ is brilliant (I Claudius was based on it) and the Loeb books (which run the Latin by the side of the English) really help to get someone learning Latin into reading the classics in Latin. You can often get them fairly inexpensively in second hand shops.
Hi Elaine. I’m a big fan of the Loeb books. They’re wonderful little editions aren’t they? I actually have a few of them. I like the idea of, one day, having a bookshelf full of them. Like this image. Beautiful.