Elementary Latin Course

Traditionally, a liberal arts education in Western civilization has included the study of three arts (or intellectual disciplines) which are fundamental to the development of clear thought and communication. These arts are known as the trivium (Lt., ‘three crossroads’), consisting of: logic, or the art of correct thinking; grammar, or the art of inventing and combining meaningful linguistic symbols; and rhetoric, or the art of persuasive communication. A natural aid to learning these liberal arts is the study of a foreign language, such as Latin.

Besides the self-evident intellectual virtue of learning another language, the study of Latin has several central benefits. First, such study enables one to read and translate the sizable body of Latin writings, which spans over two millennia. Second, Latin is a language of fundamental importance to the development of Western civilization; familiarity with Latin enables one both to study other languages and to recognize Latin’s cultural, societal, and historical influence with greater facility. Third, study of Latin helps a student to learn, in terms of the trivium, the general principles of grammar and rhetoric.

To learn more about the course, download the syllabus. The live instruction portion of the course runs Thursdays from 6:00-7:00pm Eastern Time (US), starting 15 July 2021.

This course is available to all Lyceum Members. Enroll today and join in!

Basic Membership
$115
  • (or $10.50/mo)
  • -Access to Core Programs, including Latin Study
  • -Access to Lecture and Resource Archives
  • -Discounts on Seminars
  • and more!
Advanced Membership
$300
  • (or $30.00/mo)
  • -Everything in Basic, plus:
  • -Access to Advanced Research Resources
  • -Includes two Seminars
  • -Discounts on further Seminars
  • and more!
Premium Membership
$600
  • (or $60.00/mo)
  • -Everything in Advanced, plus:
  • -Includes Six Seminars
  • -Two user licenses
  • and more!

This Week [12/6-12/13]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


12/8 Tuesday – Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Grab a drink and have a chat about the eternal things! Always open to suggested topics: any questions you may have, feel free to bring them. Open to the public this week. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

12/11 Friday – Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute. A good way to transition into the weekend.

12/12 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. The final sessions for our 2020 Fall seminars, and for the year. In “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, we will undertake to grasp the nature and importance of cognitive habits. In “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, we will take into consideration the universality of semiosis, from inorganic nature to the specifically-personal dimension of human semiosis.

We’ve also started Trivium Module 2 — on the rhetorical practice of inventio, the discovery of arguments — and will be having a Quaestiones Disputatae Inquirere session on 12/19! We had a great Colloquium Q&A this past Friday, and are poised for a great 2021.


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Keep your head warm with wisdom:

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This Week [11/29-12/5]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


12/1 – Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Grab a drink and have a chat about the eternal things! Always open to suggested topics: any questions you may have, feel free to bring them. I’ll be updating people on 2021 seminars and talking about the future of the Lyceum Institute, so if you’re interested in our growth, this would be a great chat to attend. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

12/4 Friday – Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute. Great way to get a diverse set of well-informed philosophical perspectives.

12/4 Friday – Colloquium: Mending the Cartesian Rift – Walker Percy on Being Human (6:15-7:00pm ET). Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger, lecturer in philosophy at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and Faculty Fellow of the Lyceum Institute, will be answering our questions in a live Q&A session on his excellent lecture, already available through the Lyceum Institute platform. You can find more details here.

12/5 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. The penultimate discussion sessions for our 2020 Fall seminars. In “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, we will look closely at the nature of the act of understanding in human beings, as a complementary action of intellect and perceptual faculties. In “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, we tackle one of the most important but challenging contributions that Deely gave us: the notion of physiosemiosis, that is, that virtual sign action permeates all dyadic relations and thereby grounds the possibility of growth and development in the universe.

We’ll also have a new Trivium module up soon!


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Stylish merch where the proceeds support the mission of the Lyceum! Look good, make your coffee more smarter, and help us change education for the better.

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How to be a Contemporary Thomist – The Case of Marshall McLuhan

In the fifth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present our own Adam Pugen, PhD, who brings us a discussion of Marshall McLuhan–who, despite his popularity as a “media guru”, was more fundamentally and consciously a Thomist–a discussion ranging through the influences of Chesterton, New Criticism, Jacques Maritain, analogy and metaphor, the Trivium (especially the deepening and expansion of grammar), and all this aimed at the meaning of what it is to truly be a Thomist in our own times. Not merely incidental but integral to true contemporary Thomism is the wrestling with our techno-media environments–and conversely, to understand in depth McLuhan’s own “medium is the message”, we must understand the Thomistic roots of his thinking.

Dr. Pugen’s lecture is now available at the Lyceum Institute. The live question and answer session will be held on 6 November 2020 (Friday) at 6:15pm ET/3:15pm PT. Colloquia lectures are released the year after publication at the Lyceum, and Q&A sessions are reserved for members. For information on signing up for the Lyceum, see here.

Preview – Dr. Adam Pugen, How to be a Contemporary Thomist – The Case of Marshall McLuhan

Importance of the Liberal Arts

Today, many minds have been shaped by educational philosophies of base pragmatism that treat the individual as a worker to be shaped for social goals, rather than a person to flourish within society.  This is not to disparage the professions of STEM, of doctors and lawyers, or to discourage learning the ins-and-outs of computer technologies.  But these endeavors aim primarily at the perfection of productivity, in making good things other than oneself, rather than in making better one’s own being, one’s own mind.

It is in contrast to these modern pursuits that we find the traditional curriculum of any schools with a classical inclination, known as the liberal arts.  These seven courses—grammar, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy—are called liberal because they free the mind and are called arts because they are tools for the mind’s interaction with the world.  Through extension, in the modern world, “liberal arts” has also come to comprise university education that includes instruction in philosophy, history, literature, classical languages, and theology, for these studies, too, liberate the mind (and build upon the liberation gained in the traditional seven).  This freedom consists not merely in the lack of restraint, but rather in an empowering: an uneducated person may lack any physical, moral, or civil restraints on his or her behavior, and yet nevertheless is not truly free to do many things, because he or she lacks the knowledge of how and especially why he ought to do them.  Conversely, with the absence of restraint, someone may do many things which result in a consequent lack of freedom: thus someone becomes a slave to the passions, to addictions, to thought-atrophying forms of entertainment, and to any object which may receive a disproportionate estimation of its worth. 

Distinctively human action—that is, the kind of action which belongs to human beings and no other animals—receives its specifically-human character from the use of reason; and reason is developed through learning.  Learning therefore needs also to be sufficiently broad in its scope: if someone studies one and only one subject for the whole of life, he or she will never develop a well-proportioned perspective on the fullness of human experience.  It is to this purpose that the liberal arts are applied: to provide a broad basis of education with which one can more easily grasp any subject, investigate any question, and seek every answer.  Consider the praise given its study by John Henry Newman:

Surely it is very intelligible to say, and that is what I say here, that Liberal Education, viewed in itself, is simply the cultivation of the intellect, as such, and its object is nothing more or less than intellectual excellence.  Everything has its own perfection, be it higher or lower in the scale of things; and the perfection of one is not the perfection of another.  Things animate, inanimate, visible, invisible, all are good in their kind, and have a best of themselves, with is an object of pursuit… The artist puts before him beauty of feature and form; the poet, beauty of mind; the preacher, the beauty of grace: then intellect too, I repeat, has its beauty, and it has those who aim at it.  To open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it to know, and to digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge, to give it power over its own faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, resource, address, eloquent expression, is an object as intelligible (for here we are inquiring, not what the object of a Liberal Education is worth, nor what use the Church makes of it, but what it is in itself), I say, an object as intelligible as the cultivation of virtue, while, at the same time, it is absolutely distinct from it.

1852: The Idea of a University, 90-91.

There is a fruitful distinction suggested by the phrase “Liberal Education”, as comprising those subjects not in themselves arts—as philosophy or literature, for instance—but which nevertheless contribute to the freedom of the mind.  That is, though we are here enveloped in a study of the liberal arts, our ultimate goal is for a liberal education—towards which the arts are innately ordered.  We ought to keep this ordination in mind, to avoid lapsing into sophistical pretensions resulting in a misuse of these arts.

The liberal arts attain this not through each becoming a monolithic subject studied unto itself, but as each is interwoven through the others; each must be understood as part of a greater whole to which it ultimately belongs and within which it attains its ultimate fructification.  To study the liberal arts, therefore, requires rejecting the myopic specialization characteristic of modern university study.  Conversely, it thereby allows us to be doctors, but not just doctors; lawyers, but persons, too; engineers, but also poets; scientists, but also men and women of faith and human sensitivities.