“In foramine terrae habitabat hobbitus.”

Reading The Hobbit was one of the most important things I did in my life.  In another book, Tolkien used the image of the pebble that starts the avalanche.  That is what The Hobbit was for me.  Among the rocks The Hobbit dislodged was the longest friendship of my life and, in consequence, the learning of Latin which was, in turn, a factor in my conversion to Catholicism.

Thus, I was amused by a note from a reader letting me know about a new edition of The Hobbit in Latin.  Hobbitus Ille.  (I don’t think the “Ille” was needed, but… )

There is an edition in Latin only and another in Latin and English.

Good for students?  Home schoolers?  Latinists both budding and blooming?

This follows Domus Anguli Puensis, Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, Fabula de Petro Cuniculo, Ursus Nomine Paddington, etc.

US Latin only HERE

UK Latin only HERE.

US Latin and English HERE


I also want to draw your attention to a booklet from the Catholic Truth Society about J.R.R. Tolkien, newly published I think.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. benedetta says:

    Very cool, Fr. Z! Our homeschooled son has ventured into The Hobbit just in the last couple of weeks. He is savoring it. And he is doing very well in Latin, thanks in large part to the encouragement of your blog. This weekend he is attending a LOTR all day party with some of his pals. This book would make a great Christmas present!

  2. Mariana says:

    I already got mine!

  3. Pedantic Classicist says:

    Cavete, omnes vos lecturos/as. Not to live up to my name too much, but my own very cursory glances at the text at Amazon, combined with the two critical reviews there, give me a plenteous amount of pause. The Latinity of the book seems quite questionable. From what I can tell, the author knows Latin well enough, but I fear the publisher may have rushed this out of the box to get the marketing benefit of the movie. I would be happy to be proven wrong, but so far I’ve seen nothing but indications that this will need some major revision. Perhaps I’m in the minority: what do ye think, all y’all who have studied/spoken/written/taught Latin? Am I correct on this one?

  4. Supertradmum says:

    The movie opened up today in New Zealand. Two more will be coming out, in the next two years.

  5. JuliaSaysPax says:

    Yet another reason to be excited about learning Latin (next semester in worst case scenario, next year in best case)!

  6. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    Pedantic Classicist, be even more pedantic and say, Cavete, omnes vos lecturi/ae.

    Even More Pedantic Myself

  7. Pedantic Classicist says:


    Well, I’ll use the usual excuse when a typo somehow makes its way onto one of my exams: I must have changed the construction at the last second! ;)

    Well, ok, THAT’S a heck of a time to make a stupid mistake. Anyway, am I right about the book?

  8. I have it from reliable sources that the Latin is pretty bad. That said, it could still be useful for beginners who aren’t able to tell good Latin from bad.

  9. wmeyer says:

    Although the page on Amazon indicates I am checking the bilingual kindle edition, looking inside shows only Latin content. A big FAIL for Amazon. I would not for an instant consider the purchase without being able to see how it is presented.

  10. Mariana says:

    “beginners who aren’t able to tell good Latin from bad.”

    That would be me, only two (university) years of latin, third one starting. Don’t see the need for the Ille in Hobbitus Ille, that’s about it…. so, I can’t offer any intelligent commentary on the text, sorry.

  11. mpolo says:

    I have ordered the book (but Fr. Z didn’t provide an Amazon.de link, so I couldn’t give him a commission :( ). I imagine that I will be upset about some constructions, but the same happened in Harrius Potter. I mean, “ex aere tenui”? I sincerely doubt that one would be seen in classical Latin.

    The Ancient Greek Harry Potter is quite difficult, by the way. I am able to read it, but I have to work at it. Harry Potter Latin reads easily directly from the page, and I susupect this will be similar.

  12. mpolo says:

    I suspect that the “Ille” in the title is echoing the classic “Winnie Ille Pu”. Of course, there is more reason for the ille in that case, because the first story has Christopher Robin explaining why there’s a “the” in the name…

  13. Mariana says:

    Yes, I was thinking Winnie Ille Pu probably had inspired the choice. Love Winnie Ille Pu!

  14. I saw this a while back here.>>> http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=242593
    I don’t know exactly what these people think, but I know that some of these people are somewhat knowledgeable Tolkien scholars….e.g. Hammond and Scull… :)

    It seems they’re afraid it will be a dopey translation.

  15. Gail F says:

    Doesn’t “ille” in this case mean more like “that very one”? As in, not just “the (unstressed) hobbit” but “THE (that very one) hobbit”? Vague memories from three years of Latin …

  16. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Ardologically speaking, is this a ‘Vetus’ translation from Findegil’s copy of the Thain’s Book copy of the Red Book of Westmarch – apparently Professor Tolkien’s primary witness – which he may have consulted in producing his own magisterial English translation, or some amusing but unauthoratative modern Latin ‘retro’ version from his English? If the former, then Pedantic Classicist and David Arsenault, together with the rest of us, may welcome its ‘bad Latin’ as valuable evidence to the earlier reception history – especailly as we patiently await the scholarly edition of the Westron text!

  17. This quote from Boswell’s Life of Johnson expresses my feelings on the matter, related to the quality of the Latin:

    I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach.

    Johnson: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

  18. Crucesignata says:

    I and a few of my classmates have decided to get together for fun and translate it back to English! (Can’t wait!!) :)

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