Latin Authors Easier to Read than Usual

kylefoley202

New Member
I just finished reading Mark and Revelations from the Vulgate. Great places to start reading Latin, but I feel like it's already getting to be not very challenging. I want something more difficult and I'd rather it not be part of the Vulgate since I imagine Paul's letters are probably somewhat difficult. I'm reading Caesar's Gallic Wars but it's a bit too advanced. Are there classical authors who are more difficult than Jerome but less difficult than Caesar? Thanks.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
You might want to try Eutropius. He's semi-classical, I guess, and probably easier than all classical authors.
 

LCF

One of "those" people
Cicero's "philosophical" writings are pretty easy to read for the beginner. Gallic Wars? Puke. Boring.
 
Boethius' Consōlātiō is pretty doable, as I remember, but it's not exactly what you'd call a 'scream'. It's also not classical.
Seneca's Epistulae Mōrālēs can be thorny in places, but because they're addressed to someone, the're often very casual & fluid.
It may sound ridiculous, but I had good fun reading Carruthers' translation of Alice in Wonderland (Alicia in Terrā Mīrābilī).

Then there is the stately, ever-ready profusion of mediocrity by Cicero...
 

LCF

One of "those" people
It may sound ridiculous, but I had good fun reading Carruthers' translation of Alice in Wonderland (Alicia in Terrā Mīrābilī).
Is this really something a beginner should read? How is the quality of Latin in there? How is the quality of vocabulary?
 
It doesn't rely too heavily on neologisms, the grammar is ostensibly solid, and it encourages fluidity of reading while not being as mind-numbing as Caesar. I mentioned elsewhere that if you didn't know any better, you might think it was the Bible, or Boethius, because of its rudimentary, yet somehow metaphysical style, sic:

Alice to the Caterpillar:
'Vereor, domine, ut meam ipsius sententiam expedire possim,' inquit Alicia, 'quod videlicet ipsa non sum ego.'
'Non video,' Eruca dixit.
and a little later
'Forsitan sensus tui non eidem sint,' Alicia dixit. 'Quod ad me attinet, mihi maxime mirum videatur.'
'Tibi quidem!' Eruca fastidiose dixit. 'Quis tu es?'

Questions like 'who art thou?' and 'I know it not myself' etc. are quick, interesting ways to rearrange one's thought in another language, says this Hemo.
 

LCF

One of "those" people
'Vereor, domine, ut meam ipsius sententiam expedire possim,' inquit Alicia, 'quod videlicet ipsa non sum ego.'
'Non video,' Eruca dixit.
and a little later
'Forsitan sensus tui non eidem sint,' Alicia dixit. 'Quod ad me attinet, mihi maxime mirum videatur.'
'Tibi quidem!' Eruca fastidiose dixit. 'Quis tu es?'
Sniff.. Sniff.. It stinks of English...

download.jpg
 
Sniff.. Sniff.. It stinks of English...
It's... it's a translation? That's like saying that his choice of reading (in this case Jerome) "stinks of Hebrew" (e.g. lux quod esset bona).

What (many) intermediate students need more than immaculately Golden-Age materials whereby they might themselves learn to produce native-sounding Latin (who gives a shit about that?) is compelling material that keeps them from dropping dead out of boredom.

As to whether Alice is "more difficult" than Jerome, I really couldn't say. Probably not, but it's not as though Roman authors wrote according to a sliding-scale. I remember some guys in school who thought Plautus was more difficult than Livy, whereas I found Plautus easier to read because he was more interesting to me and no other reason.
 

LCF

One of "those" people
It's... it's a translation...
I was half joking...

is compelling material that keeps them from dropping dead out of boredom.
+1

As to whether Alice is "more difficult" than Jerome, I really couldn't say. Probably not, but it's not as though Roman authors wrote according to a sliding-scale. I remember some guys in school who thought Plautus was more difficult than Livy, whereas I found Plautus easier to read because he was more interesting to me and no other reason.
+1 for Plautus. BTW, Shakespeare stole a lot from him...
 
Shakespeare stole a lot from everyone, but he still pays his rent on time.
 
LCF dixit:
Never heard about it...
Hah, it's just a write-off comment. As in, no one will repudiate Shakespeare because in their eyes he can do no wrong. He's the Homer of Engerland. I mean, he is "The Bard", after all.

secret truth: Spenser > Marlowe > Shakespeare
 

kylefoley202

New Member
Actually, I decided to stick with Caesar. It is hard, but I like the challenge. If I read something easy I feel like I'm not making the most of my time. Plus, for now I'm only reading stuff that has an audio version of it and as far as I know there are only about 20 or so Latin audio books, most of them are poetry and the Gallic Wars version I have is only read aloud for a small part of it.

Whether or not Shakespeare stole stuff is actually a topic I find quite interesting. On the one hand, it's very rare that you get a poet who can also tell a good story. If you look at the wiki list of all the epic poems out there and if you're familiar with a lot of the poems on that list you'll find that many of them are lacking storywise. Even for the modernist poets where plot and story is not all that important, I think the epic poems are mostly failures, though to be honest I'm only somewhat familiar with a few of them.

That being said that S got I think all of his stories except A Midsummer Night's Dream from someone else is no problem. It's too hard to both be able to tell a good story and write good poetry. Further, not only do you have to have a good story, you have know how to tell it dramatically within the space of 1.5 to 3 hours. That's another talent and it seems that S had that though for me at least sometimes he yammers on for way too long. If you find a good story written in some history book, a dramatist needs to then adapt that for stage and it seems that not everyone can do it.

So let me just sum up by saying that creating a great work of poetic drama takes several steps and no one person can do every step.
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
Regarding Shakespeare and whether he stole, I don't think originality of story or plot was something audiences were looking for in Early Modern Europe. Rather, they were interested in dramatic tension and the inventiveness and polish of the dialogue. This is true of French classic theater and of almost all opera from before 1760 or thereabouts.
 
Everything is borrowed. As you say, the only thing SP is guilty of is having given the people what they wanted, which is no crime (specially if you can spit wicked bars like he done).

Edit: But I do think he's overblown, and the reason people don't give a damn about Spenser is because they'd rather absorb a contained, 2/3-hour-long play than sit and read 36 thousand lines of knights & damsels. Just in the way people sit & watch an episode of Friends or something both because it's familiar & easy, and because watching The Godfather is a huge drain.
 
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kylefoley202

New Member
@Glabrigausapes
Whether or not S is overblown is actually something that I've wrestled with. I think what's going on is that he strikes a good balance between not being so difficult like Joyce or Pound, nor is he so easy that intellectuals don't take him seriously.
 
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