Thursday, January 4, 2018

Quote: The Ordinary Course of Latin

From the preface to Edwin N. Brown's 1894 Treasury of Latin Gems:

In the arrangement of the ordinary course in Latin, the first four years is commonly apportioned somewhat as follows: Beginning Book and Grammar, Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War, Cicero's Orations in the Senate, and Vergil's Aeneid; and so closely and exclusively is the course pursued that not a few pupils have been known to leave school at the end of the course with the idea that there were only three Latin writers, and that they had read them all. It requires but a moment's reflection to observe that such a course as the one just described is about the equivalent in breadth, interest, and richness of thought to a course like the following for a foreign student desiring to enter upon a four years' study of English: Beginning Book and Grammar, Grant's Memoirs of the Rebellion, Clay's Congressional Speeches, and Milton's Paradise Lost. If to this should be added a year of Shakespeare and a year of Tennyson, we should perhaps have a college course in English of about the same quality and breadth as that commonly pursued in Latin.
We have no disposition to criticise the ordinary course in Latin...which, with certain modifications, is doubtless as good, all things considered, as any that might be suggested. We do however maintain emphatically that the course should be supplemented by constant reference to other writers...
There are many who, for various reasons, do not continue the study of Latin more than two or three years; and such receive comparatively little that is really rich in thought... If the student has only a few years to spend in the study of Latin, it is so much more important that he be introduced to as much rich Latin thought as possible. 

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