The Lyceum Institute’s Latin program is designed to help participants learn to read and translate Latin texts from various literary genres and time periods. We offer courses for members with varying levels of proficiency—from beginners who have never studied another language to those with advanced Latin experience.
Our Latin program currently consists of two modules: first, a three-course Foundations sequence; second, several individual courses devoted to the study of more sophisticated Latin texts.
The Foundations sequence consists of three courses: Elementary Latin I, II, and III. Taken together, these courses introduce participants to the fundamental grammar and essential vocabulary of Classical Latin. Upon completion of this sequence, successful students are prepared to engage with simple Latin texts with minimal need of external aids. This sequence is designed to instruct beginners, including those who need to fulfill a university language requirement. So too, it is well-suited both for those who currently possess some limited knowledge of Latin and for those who have studied Latin some time ago but desire some refresher courses.
Elementary Latin I
Latin I introduces common vocabulary and the basics of grammar, including pronunciation. The primary grammatical emphasis of the course is a presentation of the fundamentals of morphology (chiefly: the declensions of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, as well as various present tense forms of verbs) and syntax (chiefly: basic word agreement; common case functions; and an introduction to the structure and use of phrases, clauses, and sentences).
Elementary Latin II
Latin II introduces more essential vocabulary and grammar. In terms of grammar, the primary morphological emphasis of the course is a fuller explanation of the verbal system, including: most remaining tenses of the indicative mood; impersonal and deponent verbs; most tenses and voices of participles; all remaining tenses and voices of the infinitive; supines; and gerunds. In terms of syntax, participants encounter concepts such as: new case functions; tense rules for participles and infinitives; the active periphrastic; and more advanced sentence and clause structures.
Elementary Latin III
Latin III introduces a sizable amount of vocabulary and more advanced grammatical concepts. In terms of grammar, the primary morphological emphasis of the course is a complete explanation of the Latin verbal system, including: the future perfect indicative; all forms of subjunctive mood verbs; gerundives; semi-deponent verbs; and defective verbs. In terms of syntax, the course focuses primarily on the formation and use of a variety of independent and subordinate clauses, especially those taking subjunctive verbs. Participants are also introduced to Latin poetry.
Selected Readings Courses
We also offer courses for those with intermediate or advanced Latin skills; these courses focus on the translation of selected Latin passages from a specific author, literary genre, or time period. In these courses, participants not only read and translate these works, but also develop the skills to critically analyze texts in terms of the following aspects: grammatical and rhetorical figures of speech; poetic meter; historical, societal, mythological and religious dimensions; and philosophical or theological terminology.
In 2023, we are offering three Selected Readings courses: Prose and Poetry, which introduces selections from Caesar, Vergil, and the Vulgate Bible; Scholastic Latin, which introduces Latin passages from a variety of scholastic philosophers and/or theologians (c.1100-1650); and Seneca’s Moral Epistles, which introduces selections from Seneca’s letters. We plan to offer new Readings courses in 2024 and beyond.
Prose & Poetry
The Lyceum Institute’s Prose and Poetry course guides participants who possess intermediate or advanced Latin experience in a study of unadapted selections from the following Latin works: Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War; Vergil’s Aeneid; and the Gospel of Mark, as presented in the Vulgate.
This course is designed to help participants (especially those who have recently completed our Fundamentals course sequence) improve their ability to read and translate sophisticated Latin writings with accuracy and confidence.
Our course in Scholastic Latin (taught by Dr. Kemple) introduces students to the key differences between Scholastic and Classical Latin and enables students to navigate the characteristic writings of key Scholastic authors. Central among theses authors is St. Thomas Aquinas, but attention will be paid also to St. Augustine of Hippo and Bl. John Duns Scotus, and may include many other authors as well, such as Cajetan, the Conimbricenses, and Ioannes a Sancto Thoma.
Moral Epistles of Seneca
This course guides participants who possess intermediate or advanced Latin experience in a study of selected letters from the Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium of Lucius Annaeus Seneca (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD), known more commonly as Seneca the Younger.
This course is designed to help participants improve their ability to read and translate sophisticated Latin writings with accuracy and confidence.
Is there a fee to enroll in your Latin courses?
All three Fundamentals courses are free for all Lyceum members (i.e., those who have signed up for any of our membership plans). There is a fee to enroll in Selected Readings courses; as with our philosophy seminars, the pricing for these courses is structured on the principle of financial subsidiarity.
How is Latin taught at the Lyceum? Do you use a particular teaching method?
Key to each course is the weekly class session, in which small groups (3-10 people) meet for an hour on Microsoft Teams to read and translate a chapter or passage from the selected text. Courses last between nine and thirteen weeks, with a weeklong break scheduled near the midpoint of each course. In addition to attending the class session, participants are encouraged both to make use of our digital resource library and to engage with our growing community of Latin students throughout the week. The instructor is often available throughout the week to meet one on one with participants.
Most Lyceum members choose to study Latin not to speak the language fluently, but to read Latin writings. As such, our pedagogical approach is based on the so-called “grammar-translation” method—i.e., participants study Latin grammar intensively and translate texts into English not only to demonstrate their comprehension of vocabulary and grammar, but also to help them progress in reading proficiency.
Is there a difference between Classical and Medieval Latin? Which pronunciation do you use?
While there are real differences between Classical and Medieval Latin (primarily concerning vocabulary rather than grammar), these differences can be exaggerated. Though the grammar of Classical Latin is more precise than that used in later periods, participants who take our Fundamentals courses will be prepared to read the Latin of other time periods.
Participants may use either Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciation; both styles are explained.
Can I test out of one or more Fundamentals courses?
Yes. Our Latin program is designed to be taken sequentially: beginners must complete each Fundamentals course satisfactorily (chiefly, passing both quizzes and the final exam) before they may advance to the various Selected Readings courses, which may be taken in any order. That said, members possessing sufficient familiarity with Latin may test out of one, two, or all three of the Fundamentals courses. To request a placement test, contact either the program director or Latin instructor.