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Introduction to Scholastic Latin

Tuis ergo obsequiis, lector, si quis veritatis, non novitatis amator occurreris, haec quaecumque sunt, offerimus tuoque iudicio mancipamus, certi, quod si quid boni repereris, non nostrum esse, facile poteris apprehendere. Vale.

John Poinsot, Cursus Philosophicus – “Lectori”, Quarta Pars Philosophiae Naturalis

The study of Scholastic Latin—by which specifically we mean the Latin which emerged from the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th century and which lasted until the decline of the schools in the 17th century—presents several unique challenges. Most critical, however, is the philosophical and theological complexity which developed over its centuries. The great thinkers of the Scholastic tradition were often subtle, not only in their ideas but in how they expressed their thoughts.

One cannot truly learn Scholastic Latin, then, apart from some learning of its philosophy. Our Introduction to Scholastic Latin course—open to all enrolled members—has been designed with this truth in mind.

Overall Course Structure

This course is not intended for the faint of heart! Students should be generally familiar with the basics of Latin grammar and in possession of a core vocabulary before beginning the course. Enrolled members who have completed our Latin II course with a B+ or higher or Latin III with a B- and higher are eligible to participate. All others may take a placement test. (If you are not a member of the Lyceum Institute and wish to take our Scholastic Latin course, enroll by 22 August 2023 to take a placement test. Elementary courses will be offered starting in January 2024.)

We have divided this course into two parts, each of which will run for eight weeks. The first part will run from September 4 (9/4/23) through November 5 (11/5/23). The second will run from January 8 (1/8/24) through March 11 (3/11/24). In Part I, we will highlight several of the key grammatical and syntactical differences between Scholastic and Classical Latin. Students will become familiar with the structure of Scholastic writings and engage with key terminology of the Thomistic tradition. Part II will continue expositing some of the differences (particularly the “loosening” of several conventions) and introduce students to a wider variety of Scholastic authors.

The primary objective of the course is to instruct students in the competence of translating Scholastic Latin into English. Such focus will help us to unveil the philosophical insights of the texts examined. This is not a spoken-language course. Students will, however, have the opportunity to practice reading and pronouncing Latin, with focus on the Ecclesiastical pronunciation.

Weekly Schedule

Each week will feature a combination of readings and translation exercises. Translation exercises are to be completed and submitted before the week begins. Readings should be completed before class. Classes will focus on reading from assignments, sight-reading new material, and discussing the assignments, both as to grammar and philosophy. The instructor will provide expository materials on particularly difficult points of grammar and philosophy alike each week as well.

Required Texts

The primary text for this course is Randall J. Meissen, LC’s Scholastic Latin: An Intermediate Course.  This text includes H.P.V. Nunn’s Introduction to Ecclesiastical Latin, a grammar which succinctly illustrates many of the ways in which Scholastic Latin differs from Classical (and which students may wish to purchase separately for the sake of convenience).  Supplemental notes and readings will be provided by the instructor.  Students may also wish to purchase a copy of Dylan Schrader’s very brief Shortcut to Scholastic Latin.  All additional readings, including those used for Translation Exercises, will be provided by the instructor.

All of our Introductory Latin courses—including Introduction to Scholastic Latin—are included in every level of membership for the Lyceum Institute. See enrollment options here. Enroll by 22 August 2023 to participate in Scholastic Latin!

IO2S Deely – Duns Scotus on Signs: Common Nature, Haecceity, and Signification

On 16 January 2022 at 12pm ET/11am CT (5:00pm UTC – check times around the world here), Dr. Paniel Reyes Cárdenas (author of Scholastic Realism: A Key to Understanding Peirce’s Philosophy and many other works across a broad philosophical range) will present on the contributions of John Duns Scotus to the history of semiotics. As is well-known, Scotus was profoundly influential on Charles S. Peirce, the modern father of semiotics. This presentation is open to the public and can be watched below (live or recorded).

2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics (IO2S) | Website

This collaborative international open scientific initiative and celebration is jointly organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project.