Latin is a bit different from all our other language courses, not least because there are no native speakers. At least, not any more.
For anyone with an interest in European history however, a working knowledge of Latin is essential. The earliest examples date back to the third century BC but it was the expansion of the Roman Empire which established Latin as a lingua franca around the Mediterranean. Even after the decline and fall of Rome, Latin remained an important language across Europe, used for legal and administrative documents and taught (where education existed) as an essential subject.
Latin flourished during the renaissance and continued to be used throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries by scholars and especially by scientists. Great books written and published in Latin include Thomas More's Utopia, Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Newton's Principia Mathematica, Linaeus' Systema Naturae and works by Milton, Kepler, Hobbes, Galileo, Huygens and Spinoza. As late as 1864, Dutch zoologist Jan van der Hoeven published his textbook Philosophia Zoologica not in Dutch, English, French or German, but in Latin.
The Roman Catholic Church used Latin for its liturgies until the 1960s and still uses it for official documents and pronouncements. In the late 20th century a vogue developed for translating modern works into Latin; examples include Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, Charlotte's Web and Dr Seuss. Rather wonderfully, the public signage at Wallsend Metro Station, Tyne and Wear is in English and Latin (in acknowledgement of nearby Hadrian's Wall).
Levels offered: Latin
Beginners (level 1)
You have little or no prior knowledge of Latin.
Start learning now:
- Correct: Romani ite domum
- Incorrect: Romanes eunt domus