Self-isolating? Relieved from work? LEARN LATIN!

Over at First Things there is a piece by Joseph Epstein about his decision, later in life, to learn Latin.  It’s engaging.   Read it there.

However, he mentions some sources for learning Latin, which I will countersign.  For example, when people ask for a book for self-instruction, I usually mention Wheelock.

It is tried and true, available, with good ancillary materials.

Wheelock’s Latin 7th Edition (The Wheelock’s Latin Series)

Gildersleeve’s Latin Grammar

And to go deeper…

Reginald Foster’s Ossa Latinitatis Solas

BTW… the 2nd Volume of Foster’s work is due to come out in August 2020. Ossium Carnes Multae e Marci Tullii Ciceronis epistulis: The Bones’ Meats Abundant from the epistles of Marcus Tullius Cicero


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I’m a big fan of the Lingua Latina series by Hans Orberg. The main text, Familia Romana, is by itself enough to build a high degree of proficiency, but there is a second level and tons of ancillary texts as well. There are also some websites with free lessons based on the text. Those who want a completely free resource could not do better than William Linney’s free online class, which covers the equivalent of one year of college Latin. The textbook that he uses is free and can be accessed through a link on his site, but a hard copy can be found for about $15 on Amazon for those who prefer a physical copy. Additionally, provides free pdf copies of classic textbooks for Latin and Greek, and has tons of classical and ecclesiastical texts in Latin for reading practice. It’s a fantastic resource, but there are no translations. You’ll have to do the work yourself.

  2. acardnal says:

    “Latin Mass Madness.” What a great poster!!

    I would love to have one for my wall, coffee mug, T-shirt, etc. Can you make it available via your
    “Fr. Z’s Stuff” store (waaaaay down at the bottom of this page)? Thank you.

  3. Noelle says:

    You could also consider the Henle Latin series, written by Fr. Robert Henle. He wrote four textbooks for the four years of high school, but they are suitable for adult learners as well. The first year book covers grammar and basic syntax. The second one covers more advanced Latin constructions, and the student reads portions of Caesar’s “Gallic War.” The third year focuses on Cicero, and the fourth year, Virgil’s “Aeneid.” The books include Christian readings as well. You can find excellent help and answer keys for Henle Latin from many Catholic homeschool publishers.

  4. Andrew says:

    Plus laudat unusquisque quod possidet.

  5. LeeGilbert says:

    With little time for spiritual reading and little time for study, I find myself longing for graded language readers that are also spiritual reading. As it is, such graded readers as there may be are always secular, but why? In the case of Latin, surely there are many sermons and lives of the saints in Latin that could be arranged in graded reader fashion to instruct while they inspire.

    I am not talking merely about simpler texts, but about some excellent teacher cutting and pasting, if need be, those simpler texts in organized and systematic fashion to bring the student along to total reading competency over the course of perhaps three or four increasingly difficult books. I’ve done plenty of hard work over the years with grammars and classes, but in my senectitude want a more relaxed and, if possible, inspiring approach.

    The same thing could be done with the other European languages as well, surely. As it is, those graded readers which I have attempted are secularizing in their effect and therefore off-putting to a Catholic.

    Maybe I am naive, but this seems like a niche market that someone could profitably exploit.

  6. As a network administrator, I am still up to my ears in work setting up people to work from home, but once that task is complete, if I actually do get a break, one of my biggest regrets in life is not having learned Latin (I only had time for Spanish, French, and Italian in college), and I will keep this idea in the back of my head. It is also a useful thing to do in retirement.

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Canis pensum meum comedit.

  8. JakeMC says:

    I myself learned Latin from Wheelock’s FOURTH edition. I still have the book, and it is well used. Many of its pages have long since parted company with the binding, so it’s held together with rubber bands when I’m not actually reading it. I may have to replace it soon, though, since some of the individual pages are beginning to fall apart. Forty years after initially taking the class…which I barely passed…I STILL haven’t mastered the language, but, like Epstein, I enjoy “playing” with it.

  9. Matthew says:

    Sister Mary Sacre Coure would find this wonderful advice is she were still among the living. I am so very happy I had good sisters growing up in school.

  10. Rob83 says:

    I learned the basics from Wheelock’s 6th edition many moons ago, the entire book was covered in Latin 101 and 102 my senior year in college.

    Flash cards are enormously helpful, I still have the set that went with the Wheelock series that I picked up when I took the class.

  11. ddbordeaux says:

    Father, what do you think of the books by Fr. Most? All three volumes of his Latin by the Natural Method and the Teacher’s Manual are available for free download here:

    Also, Mediatrix Press is offering re-typeset editions of Vols. 1 and 2 and the Teacher’s Manual here (Use the Code Lent2020 at checkout and save 10%):

    [I don’t know Fr. Most’s books. However, I do know a universal principle of learning: you get out of it what you put into it. I suspect that, were someone to use his method, diligently, he could make good progress.]

  12. JeromeThomas says:

    I second Fuerza’s recommendation of Hans Orberg’s Lingua Latina. The fact that the book itself is entirely in Latin, with no English anywhere, makes it the most brilliantly crafted textbook I’ve ever seen.

  13. scoot says:

    I mentioned I was working towards learning latin in the comments some time ago, and a commenter pointed me to “An Introduction to Ecclesiastical Latin” by HP Nunn. It has been most helpful and I have found it’s structure and layout conducive to learning. That said, I’ve still bought the two books you suggested: Leave no stone unturned!

    Thank you for your recommendations, and thank you commenter whose handle I have forgotten.

Comments are closed.