Learning Latin in the 15th Century


Civis Illustris
Modus Latinitatis Udalric Ebrardt Anno 1488
This text was intended to give a student sufficient practical Latin to be able to function at school - where everything was conducted in Latin.
The author is writing to boys who already can speak Latin; he starts by saying his intention is to correct their speech and improve it; however,he writes the book to make it useful to both a teacher of Latin, and the students it is supposedly aimed at.

Page one begins with greetings:
Here is a selection; the instructions are more detailed than I have given here, and they include possible responses, and discussion about which forms are more elegant.
Bona dies. Bonus dies.
Bonum sero. Bonum vesper. Vesper significat tempus quo sol occidit.
Salus plurima. Salve. Salve mi frater. Salvete. Salvete mi socii.
Beata nox. Quiescatis dulciter. Dormiatis dulciter. Dormiatis suaviter.
Vale mi soror. Vale mi magister.
Valete amici dulcissimi.
If you can work your way around the old blackletter script, this is an interesting book for a student of Latin, covering a wide range of conversational topics.
Another interesting book from this time period, also from Germany,is the Grammatellus pro iuuenum eruditione cum glossa almanica This text serves a similar purpose - to teach some Latin though text, not through grammatical rules. It contains facetious sentences, and has an interlined German translation. One again, it is in a blackletter, and thus is not easy to read at first.


Homo Sapiens
Staff member
These books look interesting. Unfortunately I'm not very good at reading that kind of lettering, but I might try looking into these books sometime soon.
Vale mi soror.
It's interesting that this quote does not use perfectly classical grammar as "mi" is generally only a masculine vocative — "mea" is the classical feminine vocative. However there are instances in Apuleius of "mi" being used as feminine and instances in Plautus of it being masculine plural, so the phrase in this book is probably accurate to conversational Latin.