Learn Latin by Reading Vergil’s Aeneid!
Enriched Slow Reading
Duration: September 11th 2023-May 15th 2024 (Fall/Winter/Spring)
Days/Times: Every other Monday, 7pm-9pm EST 17 Total 2 Hour Sessions
Instructor: Eric Stull
Text: Clyde Pharr, Vergil’s Aeneid
+ Voluntary “Study Halls” on off-weeks supported.
+ Private Forum for course.
+ Access to Instructor through Private Forum messaging and other means.
+ Make-up lessons available
+ Class schedule calendar for planning ahead
+ Holiday break between Fall and Winter/Spring
Who is this course for?
- Absolute Beginners: folks who have never studied a lick of Latin before.
- The Curious Reader: Beginners who love Latin epic poetry of Vergil, and who would like to get a taste of Latin, and (to mix metaphors) spend time looking under the hood at the language, to see how it works. This course alone might give these individuals satisfaction of having seen for themselves how Latin works, but will not necessarily continue on to the next level.
- The Refresher: Individuals with some prior experience in Latin, but who want a refresher course.
- The Lifer: Those who are either tasters or refreshers, but who decide they would like to develop their Latin reading skills beyond the beginning stages, and beyond Vergil; for those who are looking to develop their competency as far as they are able, for many years to come.
- All are welcome! No matter what political persuasion, ethnicity, gender, or age – those of us late in life, as well as younger – are all welcome.
What this course is NOT:
- This course is not an academic course. No grade will be given.
- This is not a lecture course, but a collaborative pursuit: Folks should expect to practice skills, work hard together, and develop Latin reading know-how. Being built for readers, this is not a course where one is given all sorts of scholarly information about the Latin language extraneous to the main task of getting reading as soon as possible.
Regular Course Tuition: $625
Option 1: One payment of $625
Option 2: $325 X 2 months.
Pharr’s Aeneid presents us with both a serious challenge and a wonderful opportunity. At once — with many aids, to be sure — Pharr makes us starkly aware that we are aswim in the deep waters of a difficult language and yet buoyed by a sea of riches. When we fear to sink, we remember we float; when we admire the shimmer, we remember to tread. We steady ourselves, but keep pace, unhurried but persistent, serious of purpose, cheerful in manner. Is this a Roman mode? Perhaps we’ll find out.
Learning any language is a challenging proposition, yet we may miss the false note that bedevils us when we are daunted. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the scale of what we approach, but we usually approach by steps, occasionally by leaps and bounds, and the increments (or leaps and bounds) by which we come to the understanding of anything complex in any case imply immediate confrontation with whatever is to be understood, whether incrementally or at a swoop.
Usually, after many, many incremental steps, we go somewhere, but at whatever speed we go, we only go if we confront the thing at which we go. The approach to be used here, after an initial, brief, intensive overview (review for those with some Latin), is to take the words of the text we are trying to read as the steps by which we make our way, one word at a time, confronted directly.
We have our friend, our translation, next to us as we go. We use this as a help, not a crutch. Our goal here is to learn Latin, yes, but for the sake of what? To read Vergil. Reading Vergil is our primary goal.
Well, what if we could learn Latin by reading Vergil?
This may sound like putting the cart before the horse, but were there no cart, would we need the horse? To put it another way, if it is correct to say that any complex skill must be broken down to be mastered, does it necessarily follow that that skill cannot be learned by first weighing the thing that is to be learned, trying to take its measure, letting it teach you what you need to know about it in order to learn it, then applying yourself to acquiring the skill to understand it?
Many people have spent years studying Greek and Latin without ever reading any of the great things written in these languages, because they were told, implicitly if not explicitly, that the things they might eventually get to were so forbidding as to be unapproachable.
This is a great shame, and contrary, it would seem, to the whole purpose of learning languages for the sake of reading them. Pharr’s contention in presenting Vergil’s epic to us as he has done is that the sooner you can get somebody looking at Vergil, the better – the sooner that person will likely begin to read Vergil.
Yes, you need some tools to do that, but what if those tools were simply all provided at once, at the outset, so that you could learn on the job?
Having all the tools there at once won’t make you magically read Vergil right away – there is no royal road — but is it implausible to suppose that putting an instrument or a baseball bat in the hands of the one who will use it may be the beginning of coming to use it well?
Unless harm can come to the novice, ought we not get him or her engaged in the using of the tool as soon as we may? If one were directed to cook a complicated meal and simply presented with all the tools and ingredients laid out, mise en place, and told, “Okay, now cook,” would that be the worst way of coming at the task? Well, cooking and learning languages are rather different enterprises, and the best answer might be, “It depends.”