Benefits of Studying Latin

By Akela, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Jul 21, 2010.

  1. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Águas Santas
    What did they write so special? I have a strong feeling that I should have taken up Greek if I’d had the intention of getting closer to the Roots. (Is the grammar of this sentence all right?)
  2. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Varsovia
    poetry and prose (philosophy, notably)
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  3. Quasus Civis Illustris

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    Águas Santas
    Uhm… Actually I don’t like poetry. As for philosophy, having Cicero and Seneca on one hand and Plato and Aristotle on the other, I definitively vote for the Greeks. Yet I’m not a lover of philosophy either… Beyond the philosophy: historical treatises and Satyricon. What else? Drama… The Greeks again. Even if I ever bother about ancient mathematics (being a mathematician myself), I have to admit that the Romans were absolutely null in this domain.
  4. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Varsovia
    Yeah but this is a thread about the benefits of Latin, not Greek. Besides, do you read Greek already?
  5. Quasus Civis Illustris

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    Águas Santas
    Yes, and I hope the moderators will relocate my offtopic. :) Of course, I don’t read Greak. What’s more, having finished my Latin textbook I’d like to have a rest from the Antiquity and I’ve decided to bring my French to a decent level.
  6. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
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    Águas Santas
    I’ve raised the question of ancient Latin heritage for a few times because it really perturbs me. The Latin gained its position in the ancient world not because the Romans were poets of philosophers, but due to their military talents inspired by avidity. This fact does not contribute to my respect for them.
  7. MrKennedy New Member

    If you are not interested in poetry and philosophy that would relegate a large and very important section of the Greek corpus also, Homer, Plato and Aristotle, Alcaeus and Sappho. In fairness you are not leaving much else - I hope you like history or you are really snookered! There are some hugely important non-fiction prose works in Latin, Vitruvius (architecture), Pliny the elder (natural science). What about epistles (Pliny the younger and Cicero)?

    You also shouldn't be surprised by any of this. That the Romans were not exactly a philosophical people, at least not on par with Greece, is no great secret as most Latin philosophy, Cicero and Lucretius for example, are more concerned with rendering Greek philosophical concepts into Latin and fine-tuning them a bit to suit Roman ethics; there isn't much originality there in other words. Additionally, the Romans never produced great tragedians - although Seneca was greatly admired during the middle-ages and renaissance - indeed, the three Athenian tragedians were part of the Roman curriculum.

    Where I disagree is on poetry. Roman elegy and epic is sublime although you do not like poetry!
  8. hazelnut New Member

    I quite like lyric myself -- e.g. Catullus. The Greeks wrote a lot more than the Romans, but Latin lyric is often neglected.
    And Latin elegy ain't too shabby. Not such a fan of epic, but that is generally true rather than particular to Latin. Although reading the Pharsalia didn't curry any favor.
    I am also a fan of didactic poetry -- sort of an ancient self-help book (or farm manual) combined with lots of anecdotes including mythology and humor. Ovid's Ars Amatoria is a pretty good time.
  9. Decimus Canus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Here's a very sensible point from a Boris Johnson article I just stumbled across.

  10. Suitecake New Member

    Philosophers who wrote in Latin:

    Lucretius
    Marcus Aurelius
    Augustine of Hippo
    Abelard
    Thomas Aquinas
    Roger Bacon
    Duns Scotus
    William of Ockham
    Boethius
    Francis Bacon
    Thomas Hobbes
    Spinoza
    Immanuel Kant (fairly certain, for at least some of his works)

    And a slew of others. If you wish to understand the history of Christianity, you must know Latin. If you wish to know significant portions of the history of philosophy, you must know Latin.

    Not because the Romans were great philosophers. They weren't. But because their language stuck for well over a millenium.
    Alethian likes this.
  11. Shrage New Member

    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Another minor benefit is when you hear Latin in a movie or TV or other from of entertainment, which occasionally happens (like in "Tombstone" and "Dragonslayer") you might understand it. Also, my choirdirector quite often chooses a hymn which we sing in Latin, and usually I can understand what we are actually saying as we sing! Also, if you ever hear a sermon in Latin, or part of it in Latin (like the pater noster)...well...there you go!
  12. EricDi Member

    Location:
    California
    :) That’s good. Very good.

    Numerous reasons for me including:
    1. HP Lovecraft used it in his writings (the trivial).
    2. Roots was the final impetus (the introspective), but I should have started more rigorously in English.
    3. Original texts in original language (the scholarly). However, to not trust the translators seems a circular logic.
    4. (The holistic truth of the matter): it is a super-secret decoder ring with pinache…

    …that just happens to have huge historical, military, religious, secular, social, fictional, and mystical heritage with a substantial body of extant writings. It is rewarding when I find the occasion where someone, including myself, wonders “what does that mean?” to then pull it out of the bag if only for the briefest of moments. It happens more often than I thought it would.

    Its influences persisted long after the demise of its source and has likely penetrated immeasurably into a myriad of other paths on which we may find ourselves someday…including trivialities such as an esoteric reference in a book, a movie, a TV series about the Apocalypse, a grave stone, a work of art, another language, the inscription on a relic in another country, and yes, this forum of a gracious people that share a hobby and wish to bestow their knowledge (si modo causa uvandorum illorum quae volvunt corpores suum notare). A moment here: thank you to this forum’s founders and keepers and participating knowledgeable and helpful students of the language.

    One of my hobbies was/is horror fiction – much of what I have read owes tribute for its ideas, directly or indirectly, to the Revelation of John. To have read this work in Latin (what I ignorantly thought at the time as its original language) was and is a thrill. Of course it also has helped me to think more on religion (the other books). Greek would be better for that particular task, but between the two, I am glad I chose Latin since it seems to touch so many paths (and even the Greek is channeled through Latin). E.g., I have recently discovered for myself the link between the founding fathers of my country and Cicero.

    When people ask me why I study Latin (usually on a plane where I get most of my study time), I simply say “like some people do Sudoku, I (try to) read Latin.” Everything else sounds either trite or pompous to the non-diver.

    Next time, I might try the Cannibals in the Mato Grosso line. :)
  13. EricDi Member

    Location:
    California
    Quasus, your English is invariably clear. Regarding these particular sentences, you have good verb tense agreement and the word order is good, both of which I still/currently struggle with in Latin. I suppose it is more easily read by inserting “that is/was” before “so special”, but by no means is it required and I usually omit it myself.

    (BTW – darn good avater – makes me chuckle every time I pause to look at it.) :)

    On the topic, I would put forth Cicero’s De Re Publica and De Legibus as important achievements in governmental philosophy (but I am no scholar). You want roots? No argument, Greece/Greek is much of the Western foundation, but it is well-channeled and widely spread through Rome/Latin with added “Roman” elements. Granted, this is much through a despicable government and despicable practices. I find enlightenment in the pre-tyrant days (The Republic). Even there, one can find (numerous) atrocities as in the history of any "people"; it is instead the acts and products of good men and women that I gravitate to and through whom I seek wisdom and learning, not their governments or societies at large. Cicero is one of those men. (Where is that soapbox smiley when I need it? :) )
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  14. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    I do it for the ladies
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  15. EricDi Member

    Location:
    California
    Where were you when Danielle Lloyd needed you a few years ago? (Alas, timing is everything...) ;)

    (Referring, of course, to the Mangled Celebrity Tattoos topic started by Akela that I am only discovering now.)
  16. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Colchis
    "Hey baby, ever read hendecasyllable? Because I'm going to catullus16 you all night long..."
  17. Quasus Civis Illustris

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    Águas Santas
    distref, thanks for your comments and good words. :) And I’d like to add that your post above is very sensible. It suggests to regard Latin not only as a collection of monuments but rather as a paradigm… Definitively it’s worth dwelling on.
  18. EricDi Member

    Location:
    California
    Glad I could strike a tone that works.
    Nicely encapsulated.
    -distef
  19. ScottG New Member

    Location:
    IL USA
    What are the benefits of Latin?

    It's helped me learn Spanish but also to read old Spanish texts while my peers struggle because they don't recognize all of the Latin that still existed in the Spanish language circa 1099 or so.

    It's helped me daily with my English.

    It gives me a window to look at a culture that heavily influenced our own but allows me to also see where we are different from them. It's made me highly more relatable to others.

    Though perhaps my favorite benefit of studying Latin is the ability to sound much more intelligent than I am simply by deciphering a word or telling people that I study the Classics. For all of the loss of popularity in our schools, I think that at least the United Statian culture recognizes the academic elitism and prestige of the language. Those who study Latin (which would be so much simpler to say in Latin) have real advantages in societal perception solely for doing so.

    Long live the dead tongue of the Cicero!
  20. (Emily) New Member

    I plan to do something in the language field (not sure what yet) and I'm trying to get a feel for different languages. I know that I've found a lot of similarities between Latin, Spanish and English and knowing that Latin is a root of those languages fascinates me. Plus, I can't wait until I'm fluent enough to read entire Latin texts!

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