As Cicero once said, “it is not so much excellent to know Latin, as it is a shame not to know it.” Latin is the language of western civilization. For nearly two millennia, Latin was the tongue in which the educated communicated. It was the language of the western Church, governments, scientists, nobles, musicians, and even poets. To be ignorant of Latin is to be cut off from a great deal of history and civilization. Latin was the language of such ancient authors as Vergil and Caesar. It was the language of the great lights of the Church such as Ambrose and Augustine. It was the language of Medieval Europe and greats such as Fortunatus and Aquinas. It is the language of the tender Stabat Mater Dolorosa and the stern Dies Irae that have moved Christians for nearly a millennium. It was not only used by the Church, but it was also the language of science. Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia, the foundation of classical Physics and Mathematics is in Latin, not English, his native language. Indeed, to know Latin is to have access to some 2,500 years of literature. There are few languages that can make a similar claim. One major reason is that Latin literature had over a 1,000 year head start on any of today’s vernaculars. A second major reason is that Latin, unlike the vernaculars, has been a very stable language over the millennia. While new words and expressions have been added to Latin over the course of time in order to express new ideas and inventions, the language itself has not greatly altered.
|© 2006 Latin in the Christian Trivium|
The Latin Advantage
“Latin is the key to the vocabulary and structure of the Romance languages and to the structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents.”
Dorothy Sayers, The National Review
SAT Scores Studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service show that Latin students consistently outperform all other students on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).
1999-2005 Taken from Table 6 in College-Bound Seniors — A Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. 2007 data taken from 2007 College-Bound Seniors-Total Group Profile Report.