Why Study Latin?

Latin is the language that was spoken by the ancient Romans.  As the Romans extended their empire throughout the Mediterranean, the Latin language spread.  By the time of Julius Caesar, Latin was spoken in Italy, France, and Spain.  Classical Latin—the language spoken by Caesar and Mark Antony—is now considered a "dead" language.  That is, it is no longer spoken by a particular group of people.  However, many living languages, such as Spanish, Italian and French, evolved from classical Latin, so that Latin lives on in these daughter languages.  These languages are called "Romance" languages, precisely because they developed from the language spoken by the Romans.

Ten Reasons Why You Should Study Latin

1. You should study Latin if you have any interest in classical literature.  A translation of the Aeneid can give you only a second-hand idea of what Vergil was trying to communicate; to fully appreciate the poem, you must read it in the language in which Vergil wrote it.

2. You should study Latin if you are interested in the English language and want to improve your vocabulary.  Although English did not develop directly from Latin, English speakers borrowed many words from Latin.  Some of these we use every day  ("peninsula," "university") while others ("egregious," "immaculate," "inference") are less common but no less integral to a strong vocabulary.

3. You should study Latin if you are interested in medicine, nursing, or law.  Many medical terms and almost all legal terms are Latin words.  Knowing the Latin meaning of "lateral" and non compos mentis will give you a competitive edge in these fields.

4. You should study Latin if you are interested in a Romance language.  Many words in these languages are little changed from classical Latin. For example, the Spanish word for "boss" (patrone) is a direct descendant of the Latin word patronus, which roughly translates as "political patron."

5. You should study Latin if you want to know more about life in ancient Rome.  There is no real English equivalent for Latin words like forum, patronus, and imperator.  When you learn these Latin words, you also learn about the Roman political and social realities behind them.  Language is an integral part of culture, so by learning Latin, you will learn about Roman culture and society.

6. You should study Latin if you want a mental challenge.  Latin grammar is complex, and reading a Latin sentence can be like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together.  People who enjoy math and music usually enjoy Latin because it requires some of the same intellectual skills as these disciplines.

7. You should study Latin if you are interested in early music and sacred music.  Anyone who has studied two semesters of Latin will be able to understand the Renaissance masses and Gregorian chants sung by groups such as the Tallis Scholars and Anonymous Four.

 8. You should study Latin if you have a serious interest in ancient or medieval history, since prestigious graduate programs in these fields require their students to do research in Latin.

9. You should study Latin if you want a liberal education.  Latin and Greek traditionally formed the core of a liberal education, which was so named because only "free" ("liberal" from liber, meaning "free") people could afford to study disciplines that did not teach them a trade but which enriched their minds.

 10. You should study Latin because in these practical times, it’s just a little bit rebellious.