Classical Literature World Literature





What You Have Always Wanted To Know About LAT 251 But Never Dared To Ask

Students who take LAT 251 (Intermediate Latin) are on the threshold between the Beginning Latin sequence, which focuses on the acquisition of a basic grammar and vocabulary, and the upper-division courses, in which we (finally!) study original, unabridged Latin texts. LAT 251, therefore, is designed to do two things: (1) Teach you some more advanced grammatical structures that we didn’t get to in LAT 112 and (2) slowly make you accustomed to reading original poetry and prose.

During the first weeks of the course, I will lead you through a neatly structured review of the materials you should have already learned. Thus, former LAT 111-112 students (who may or may not have forgotten some of the material over the summer) as well as newcomers to the Mercer Latin program will have a chance to brush up on some elementary material. Towards the middle of the semester, we will begin to read our first original texts, i.e. some carefully selected poems by Horace. At the end of the term, each student will choose a text from one of the major classical authors (Caesar, Cicero, Vergil, Catullus, Ovid, and Livy) and prepare a presentation to the class.

Successful completion of LAT 251 will enable you to recognize the most common Latin forms and syntactic structures, endow you with a vocabulary of approximately 1500 words, and put you in a position to understand and analyze authentic simple texts in Latin. You will now be well prepared to take any 300-level course and engage yourself with the thought of such literary and philosophical geniuses as Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Ovid, Seneca, and Tacitus in the original language.          

What you should already know

Here are some things you should have acquired in LAT 111-112: 

  • a fundamental competency in grammar:
    • all declensions (all cases for nouns, adjectives, pronouns)
    • all conjugations (all tenses in the indicative, both active and passive)
    • adverbs
    • numerals
    • prepositions
    • introduction of subordinate clauses (In LAT 111-112 you were exposed to relative clauses,  a number of conjunctions, and maybe even the subjunctive. In all likelihood, however, you will not have complete confidence in your mastery of this material.)
  • a basic vocabulary (approximately 900 words upon completion of LAT 112)
  • the ability to use morphological rules to guess unknown vocabulary
  • the ability to read and understand simple Latin texts 
  • the ability to pronounce Latin
  • the ability to translate simple English sentences into Latin
  • the ability to answer simple Latin questions about a text in Latin
  • a better understanding of the English language through Latin cognates and comparison of syntactical structures
  • an introduction to Roman culture, civilization, and history (including topics of Greek mythology)

What you will be expected to have learned by the end of this course

By the end of LAT 251 you will be expected to show mastery of all the grammatical features and linguistic skills listed above, as well as their nuances. The following is a catalog of further advancements:

  • an intermediate competency in grammar:
    • subjunctive in main clauses
    • sequence of tenses in purpose clauses, indirect questions, and indirect commands
    • indirect statement (accusative and infinitive)
    • ablative absolute
    • result clauses
    • conditional clauses
    • deponent and semi-deponent verbs
    • uses of cum
    • gerund and gerundive
    • advanced uses of genitive, dative, accusative, and ablative
  • knowledge of the principal parts of the common irregular verbs
  • a sizeable range of vocabulary (approximately 1500 words)
  • the ability to read and understand easy original Latin texts (both in prose and verse)
  • the ability to read Latin fluently
  • the ability to translate complex English sentences into Latin
  • an advanced understanding of Greco-Roman culture (including mythological, historical, and literary topics)

What you will need to bring to this course

Most importantly: an open mind and some interest in the Latin language and the cultures of classical antiquity. Otherwise, all that’s needed are the two volumes of the college edition of the Oxford Latin Course (which you have already been using in LAT 111-112) and the Oxford Latin Reader (as a source book for our term papers). I will continue to ask you to complete some exercises on the Oxford Latin Internet site. I also promise to introduce you to some more Latin mottoes and to show you a few more Forum Romanum newscasts in Latin.

I hope you will decide to take some more Latin. Remember: What you learn in this course will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Curemus linguam Latinam!