Friday, June 18, 2004


Little Latin Lesson

Cicero, Pro Archia Poeta (In Defense of the Poet Archias) 7.16, on the study of literature:
For other relaxations of the mind aren't suitable for all times, all ages, all places. But these studies nourish youth, divert old age, charm us when things go well, offer a refuge and consolation when things go badly, delight us at home, are not a hindrance away from home, serve as our companions through the night, on journeys, in rural retreats.
nam ceterae neque temporum sunt neque aetatum omnium neque locorum: haec studia adolescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solacium praebent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur.
Don't skip over the Latin. Instead, linger over it and try to pick out words that look familiar to you. A paragraph of Latin like this has a familiar and comfortable look to it. Even if you can't read it yet, you can at least recognize many words that remind you of other words you already know:English speakers don't have the same feeling of familiarity looking at a paragraph of Russian, or Swahili, or Chinese, or Lakota. Students of Latin have a head start over the students of many other languages.

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