This course is designed to introduce take students who have learned the rudiments of Latin grammar and a reasonable amount of workable vocabulary, and make them comfortable and competent readers of Latin. At the same time, it attempts to unfold the background of the history of the Roman Republic and the beginnings of the Principate, so that students will have a narrative context into which to place what they read. It is necessarily incomplete, and it gives fairly short shrift to strictly literary authors (though we leave time at the end of the class for dabbling in a variety of other authors, including poets), but it pushes deliberately for a holistic understanding of the Roman state and people.
We will rely for text on the venerable Aeneas to Augustus: A Beginning Latin Reader for College Students; this will be accompanied by systematic review of grammatical concepts and inflectional forms, and an easily readable narrative history of Rome, Ancient Rome, by Paul Zoch. Our focus here is not as much to gain a fully objective historical understanding of those centuries (as fascinating as they are) as to come to understand how the Romans saw themselves through their own history.
The course presupposes a substantial and solid preparation in Elementary Latin, and of course a willingness to stretch one's grasp of the language and the literature, but not a great deal in terms of historical background.
Our methodology will be somewhat unusual, but focused specifically on trying to wean the reader from the process of decoding Latin, and replacing it with actually reading it the way one would read English or any other language. Some of this will probably entail growing pains and some frustration, but the end result should be well worth it.
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