Horatius

Symposion

Member
I have read sections of De bello gallico by Gaius Iulius Caesar. I did really like that work! I have been interested in Caesar and his time from a historic perspective for a long time already. I could easily read more from this book. Then after that I checked out Pro Archia poeta by Marcus Tullius Cicero. I did not like that work. The Latin was both difficult with a lot of unfamiliar words and a generally boring theme! His Orationes is obviously not my thing at all. Instead I have been thinking about maybe reading parts of Carmina by Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Have you read this work by him? What do you think?
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
I've read bits of it. Horace uses a lot of weird poetic constructions, especially imitations of Greek grammar, and tons of proper names of locations or people(s) designed to evoke a specific atmosphere or feeling. I find Horace harder than Cicero, but if you have a commentary that explains all the grammatical peculiarities and proper names, his poems can be really beautiful and fun to read.
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Horace is good, but I wouldn't say that he is easy to read.
 

AoM

nulli numeri
I wouldn't start any poetry (unless, as Dantius noted, heavily annotated) if you're having trouble with Cicero.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
The Latin was both difficult with a lot of unfamiliar words and a generally boring theme! His Orationes is obviously not my thing at all.
Cicero does have other speeches that may be more interesting. For instance, his Pro Cluentio, although it is very long, has a very engaging, intricate narrative full of murders and attempted murders, double crosses, family feuds, civil war, etc. Also, regarding the "unfamiliar words" thing, Cicero uses the same words a lot, so the more you read, the more you'll get used to his words and style. The same applies to any author, really.
 

Symposion

Member
I try to read Wikipedia in Latin as often as possible. This to read as much Latin as possible. I noticed that my reading and translating of Latin was worst in class. When I asked about this from the teacher she said that I need to check out the words and learn the morphology of Latin more! I think she does not like me at all! The text Pro Archia was simply boring so I was not encouraged to study it.

I have studied metrics in Latin but got a really crap mark from it as well because I was not at all interested! This is because the reason why I want to learn Latin is primarily to read and study prose in chronicles and other similar sources from primarily the Middle Ages and secondly from the Roman Antiquity. The metrics in Medieval Latin is completely different!

Now I would need to read some poetry from Classical Latin as well to master Latin. I am not interested in Catullus so I am thinking about Horatius or Vergilius. I think leaving Vergilius till later would be a good idea.
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Vergil is much easier than Horace. Ovid is relatively easy too, but I like Vergil better.
 

rothbard

Civis Illustris
Staff member
I have read sections of De bello gallico by Gaius Iulius Caesar. I did really like that work! I have been interested in Caesar and his time from a historic perspective for a long time already. I could easily read more from this book. Then after that I checked out Pro Archia poeta by Marcus Tullius Cicero. I did not like that work. The Latin was both difficult with a lot of unfamiliar words and a generally boring theme! His Orationes is obviously not my thing at all. Instead I have been thinking about maybe reading parts of Carmina by Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Have you read this work by him? What do you think?
It's normal to find an unfamiliar writer much more difficult than a familiar one. Cicero's constructions and his choice of words differ greatly from Caesar's. I found Pro Archia a bit boring as well. You may find In Verrem more interesting; see here for my previous post on it. You could also try his philosophical works, such as De Senectute, De Amicitia, or De Officiis. The Latin of his letters is easier to understand than that of his other works, but the meaning is often obscured by references to contemporary events, and he sometimes uses nicknames, e.g. βοῶπις (ox-eyes) for Clodia in this letter or Sampsiceramus for Pompey in this letter and others.

If you want to read poetry, I think you may find Ovid easier than Horace.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
When I asked about this from the teacher she said that I need to check out the words and learn the morphology of Latin more! I think she does not like me at all!
The impression I get from this is not that she doesn't like you, but that she's trying to give you advice that will turn out to be very helpful, especially in poetry. Even if you're trying to read naturally, you have to really absorb those endings and forms so that you're just naturally recognizing them as you read, not ignoring the endings and trying to guess based on context. I've been tricked a number of times into completely misinterpreting passages by thinking I can get the idea without looking at the endings.
In poetry, the word order can go kind of crazy, so it's really important to know the endings.

Anyway, Ovid and Vergil are definitely easier than Horace and both of them are really interesting, so I would recommend going with one of those.
 

Terry S.

Quaestor
Staff member
Even if you're trying to read naturally, you have to really absorb those endings and forms so that you're just naturally recognizing them as you read, not ignoring the endings and trying to guess based on context. I've been tricked a number of times into completely misinterpreting passages by thinking I can get the idea without looking at the endings.

Been there, done it, had the red face in class.
 

Symposion

Member
Vergil is much easier than Horace. Ovid is relatively easy too, but I like Vergil better.
You got me to think about reading Aeneis by Publius Vergilius Maro as the next opus in Latin. This instead of Carmina by Horatius. as the next opus in Latin. At least parts of Aeneis as I have understood it to be a long text. I did not read the entire work De bello gallico either. I did not read Pro Archia because it was boring.


It's normal to find an unfamiliar writer much more difficult than a familiar one. Cicero's constructions and his choice of words differ greatly from Caesar's. I found Pro Archia a bit boring as well. You may find In Verrem more interesting; see here for my previous post on it. You could also try his philosophical works, such as De Senectute, De Amicitia, or De Officiis. The Latin of his letters is easier to understand than that of his other works, but the meaning is often obscured by references to contemporary events, and he sometimes uses nicknames, e.g. βοῶπις (ox-eyes) for Clodia in this letter or Sampsiceramus for Pompey in this letter and others.
I might rightfully return to Cicero later but first I would like to read something else. Caesar is closer in his narrative style to medieval chronicles that I want to study. Is in Verrem a text by Cicero? I cannot find it under his orationes on the Latin Wikipedia!

The impression I get from this is not that she doesn't like you, but that she's trying to give you advice that will turn out to be very helpful, especially in poetry. Even if you're trying to read naturally, you have to really absorb those endings and forms so that you're just naturally recognizing them as you read, not ignoring the endings and trying to guess based on context. I've been tricked a number of times into completely misinterpreting passages by thinking I can get the idea without looking at the endings.
In poetry, the word order can go kind of crazy, so it's really important to know the endings.
I have tried to tell to my Brazilian friend that knowing Latin grammar is essential. He then tells me that he has learnt Latin well by reading texts since a child and Latin is also close to his native language of portuguese. He has also studied Italian and French. Via those languages and the practise of reading Latin every day since a child he is pretty fluent in Latin. I understand that to master a language it is key to also understand Latin grammar. He will study it at a Catholic university in Roma. What do you think?
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
You got me to think about reading Aeneis by Publius Vergilius Maro as the next opus in Latin. This instead of Carmina by Horatius. as the next opus in Latin. At least parts of Aeneis as I have understood it to be a long text. I did not read the entire work De bello gallico either. I did not read Pro Archia because it was boring.
The Aeneid is definitely very good. It might take a while to get adjusted to the poetic style, where nouns and adjectives that agree with them are often separated, etc., but once you do it's very beautiful and for the most part not ridiculously difficult. My favorite books of the Aeneid were books 2, 4, 10, and 12, but there are good parts in all of the books.
I might rightfully return to Cicero later but first I would like to read something else. Caesar is closer in his narrative style to medieval chronicles that I want to study. Is in Verrem a text by Cicero? I cannot find it under his orationes on the Latin Wikipedia!
Yes, In Verrem is by Cicero. You can find the text of Cicero's works here.
 

Symposion

Member
Would you prefer that I first read more from De bello Gallico by Caesar or then Pro Caelio or Pro Milone by Cicero? Could I now after reading some Caesar and Cicero (boring!) read something else like some Aeneis by Vergilius?
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Would you prefer that I first read more from De bello Gallico by Caesar or then Pro Caelio or Pro Milone by Cicero? Could I now after reading some Caesar and Cicero (boring!) read something else like some Aeneis by Vergilius?
If you really don't like Cicero, I suppose it would be better to read more De Bello Gallico. I do think you should try some more Cicero eventually, but I understand that some people don't like that style. I'd say you can then start the Aeneid. As I mentioned, it will definitely take some adjustment, but the more you read the more you'll get used to his style.
 

Symposion

Member
The Aeneid is definitely very good. It might take a while to get adjusted to the poetic style, where nouns and adjectives that agree with them are often separated, etc., but once you do it's very beautiful and for the most part not ridiculously difficult. My favorite books of the Aeneid were books 2, 4, 10, and 12, but there are good parts in all of the books.
How about Liber VI where Aeneas meets his father Anchises. The father tells about the upcoming greatness of Roma.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Yes, that book's good too (very propaganda-ish in favor of Rome), but I just prefer some of the other ones. But book 6 is definitely a popular one as well. To me, it seemed like the first 6 books were more self-contained episodes (i.e. each book can theoretically be read on its own and tell a cohesive unit of the story), whereas books 7-12 are more connected and tell the long story of the war that ensues when Aeneas arrives in Italy.
 

Symposion

Member
Yes, that book's good too (very propaganda-ish in favor of Rome), but I just prefer some of the other ones. But book 6 is definitely a popular one as well. To me, it seemed like the first 6 books were more self-contained episodes (i.e. each book can theoretically be read on its own and tell a cohesive unit of the story), whereas books 7-12 are more connected and tell the long story of the war that ensues when Aeneas arrives in Italy.
As a historian I am very interested about the history of Caesar and the political culture of his time. I could easily read and study more of that! You are right in that I did not like Cicero and would rather read Vergilius now. Is he too difficult for me at the moment? I guess it could be refreshing to read something new.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Another option would be to read Caesar's De Bello Civili. It can be a bit more complicated than De Bello Gallico, but it can be interesting to study because there's a lot of ways Caesar is kind of twisting the truth or presenting things in a certain way.
 
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