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Text-based seminars

Text-based seminars

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Text-based seminars

In these seminars our teachers choose texts that they find particularly interesting. Each seminar will consist of reading and discussion, led by the teacher but to a considerable extent shaped by the students' response to the text. These highly participative sessions will appeal to those who can read and speak the language in question with a reasonable degree of fluency and now wish to develop their skills in discussion.

Latin seminars

Plautus’s Amphitryo

Discipulis qui iam fere omnia linguae praecepta Familiā Romanā (vel sim.) usi didicerunt, sed ex limpido auctorum Latinorum fonte nondum biberunt, hunc cursum veluti pontem ac transitum ad auctores veros legendos proponimus, ubi salsam Plauti comoediam nomine Amphitryonem perscrutemur, grammatica et latinitatis propria ante oculos imprimis ponentes.

If you’ve largely covered the fundamentals of Latin grammar and syntax, perhaps by using Familia Romana, but have yet to sample the pure waters of original Latin authors, this course is for you. Designed to bridge the gap between the two, it will see you studying Plautus's comedy Amphitryo, enjoying the wit and humour while focusing first and foremost on grammar and Latinity.

Literary and scholarly Latin

Qui sermones Latinos serere possunt, ii licet facile de rebus cotidianis, difficulter tamen de rebus litteraris ac scholasticis loqui valent. Cui tristi discipulorum condicioni ut medeamur has scholas proponimus ad adipiscendam loquendi de litteris rebusque scholasticis facultatem. Discipuli assiduā colloquiorum lectione quae de scholasticis argumentis sunt conscripta per totum trimestre exercitati, et amplam doctrinam et facultatem Latine loquendi egregiam sibi comparabunt.

However well we speak Latin, discussing literary and academic topics can be difficult compared to ordinary conversation. We’ve designed this class to address that troublesome discrepancy. Throughout the term students will be reading dialogues that deal with scholarly themes; thus they will learn a substantial amount at the same time as acquiring excellent Latin-speaking skills.

An introduction to Cicero’s philosophy

Fundamenta philosophiae Ciceronis tractabimus, locos diversos de philosophia ethica (De Finibus), politica (De Re publica, De Legibus), metaphysica (De Divinatione, De Natura Deorum, De Fato), de cognoscendi modis (Academica) legendo. In prima parte scholae discipuli linguam ipsam loquendique facultatem exercebunt (quis fuerit Cicero, quomodo animum et corpus describere possimus, disputationes philosophicae, e.g. virtusne ad vitam bene beateque agendam sufficiat necne et alia eiusdem generis), in altera vero facultatem textus intellegendi et interpretandi exercebimus.

This course offers students who already have a sound grasp of Latin the opportunity to improve their ability to interpret Latin philosophical texts. We will read extracts from Cicero’s works on ethics (De Finibus), politics (De Re publica, De Legibus), epistemology (Academica), and metaphysics (De Divinatione, De Natura Deorum, De Fato). In the first part of each class, students will mostly practise speaking in Latin, learning to express complex sentences and to formulate philosophical hypothesis and critiques. During the second part, they will read and discuss extracts from the texts.

Roman authors on science, art, and power

Fictane sit an vera illa pervulgata opinio quam quidam tradunt, Romanos usui, Graecos vero rationi esse deditos. Ad quodque capitulum binae vel trinae tribuentur lectiones.

We will consider how much truth there is in the commonly held view that the Romans focused on the practical arts whereas the ancient Greeks dedicated themselves to theory and reason. Each topic will be explored through several readings from various authors, outlined below:

1. The Origins of the Arts Unde originem duxerint artes

2. Land economy De terra

3. Family Medicine Medicina paterfamilias

4. Architecture and engineering Vitruvius, architectus et machinator

5. Philosophy and natural science Philosophi et scientiarum gradus

6. The Natural World Historia naturalis

7. Art and Power Ars et potestas

Ancient Greek seminars

Schola poetica - Getting to know Greek poetry

This course will see students reading Ancient Greek poetry by authors spanning more than 1000 years, from Homer through to less well known Byzantine poets such as Joannes Geometres, alongside passages from Greek literature that illuminate their meaning and significance. We will see how all these authors are part of a poetic tradition that, despite the passage of so many centuries, changed much less than the historical context within which the authors lived. Students will be gradually introduced to the arts of memorisation and recitation, thus enabling them to enjoy the tradition from within. As well as starting to recognise intertextual references, they will begin to pick up subtle allusions and common themes and language, all the while learning to read ancient poetry the way it was designed to be read: out loud. All discussions will take place in Ancient Greek.

Each class will last two hours, with a 10-minute break after the first hour. The first hour will be spent becoming acquainted with the vocabulary and themes of the poems to be discussed in the second hour, and reading some short relevant passages from ancient authors. The second hour will be dedicated to reading the poems, learning about their metre and diction, and paraphrasing parts of them in simpler Greek.

Previous ability in speaking Ancient Greek, or at least an excellent good command of Greek grammar, is essential for this course.