Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language

From Chris Aldrich Commonplace Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cover of Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language

Latin lives! The language of Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, St. Jerome, and countless other great authors is alive and well in the modern world. It lives in the Romance languages, which are the lineal descendants of Latin. It flourishes in English, which draws a major part of its vocabulary from Latin. It thrives in the technical terms of science, law, and other fields. Latin is used in the traditional liturgy and proclamations of the Catholic Church. And it is the language of choice for inscriptions, mottoes, and any idea that needs to be stated with permanence and precision.

Lecture 1: Pronouncing Classical Latin

Salvete! Greetings! Ease into your study of Latin by admiring its beauty and impressive history. Then focus on the letters and sounds of the restored classical pronunciation, which approximates the way Latin was spoken in the classical era. Finally, cover the rules of accents.



  • ă (short) uh about
  • ĕ (short) eh get
  • ĭ (short) ih kin
  • ŏ (short) ou ought
  • ŭ (short) oo book
  • ā (long) ah father
  • ē (long) ey cake
  • ī (long) ee machine
  • ō (long) oh go
  • ū (long) oo food
  • y i (only words from Greek)


  • c always pronounced as k (hard)
  • g always pronounced as guh (hard)
  • i (sometimes seen as J) pronounced as e

Classical Latin pronunciation will be used in the course (in contrast with the ecclesiastical or church Latin)

2020-05-10 Read lecture notes

Lecture 2: Introduction to Third-Conjugation Verbs

Begin your adventure in Latin verbs with the third conjugation, practicing the present tense indicative of ago (I do). Learn the four principal parts of ago-the key words that allow you to conjugate any form-as well as the imperative endings that permit you to issue commands.


  • imperātor n. commander
  • pontifex maximus n. chief priest
  • bellum war

Gallia Gaul

  • mīlitēs, soldiers
  • agō, agere, ēgī, actum v. do, drive, lead (I do; to do; I did (I have done); having been done)


  • number
  • person
  • tense (past, present, future)
  • voice (active/passive)
  • mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive)


Personal active endings

  • Singular
  • 1 -ō/-m
  • 2 -s
  • 3 -t
  • Plural
  • 1 -mus
  • 2 -tis
  • 3 -nt

agō, agis, agit, agimus, agitis, agunt

bellum agere reads as: war to do or to do war. We would say wage war.

Caesar bellum agit. Caesar wages war.

Gāius Iūlius Caesar, imperātor et pontifex maximus, bellum in Galliā agit.

Gaius Julius Caesar, general and chief priest, war in Gaul wages.


  • Singular: Age! do it
  • Plural: Agite! do it you all

Wage war, Caesar! Age bellum Caesar.

Agite mīlitēs. Wage war soldiers

Valete! (be well)

2020-05-10 Read lecture notes

Lecture 3 Introduction to the Subjunctive Mood

See how the long vowel a" is the key to the present subjunctive mood in verbs such as pono (I place). The subjunctive expresses doubt or potential, and you explore its use by the poet Catullus in one of the most famous love poems to survive from the ancient world."


  • pōnō, pōnere, posuī, positum: put or place
  • vīvō, vīvere, vīxi, vīctum; live
  • bibō, bibere, bibī: drink
  • fīō, fieri, factus sum: be made, happen, become
  • dēsinō, dēsinere, dēsiī: cease, desist, stop
  • discō, discere, didicī learn
  • lux light
  • ineptīre fool


  • I place: p̄onō
  • let me place: pōnam
  • you place: pōnis
  • you should place: pōnās

pōnam, pōnās, pōnat, pōnāmus, pōnātis, pōnant

  • hortatory subjunctive (exhort)
  • also used with 'ut' to express purpose or result
    • So that he may put: ut pōnat
    • With the result that he may put: ut pōnat
  • nē
    • so that he may not put: nē pōnat
    • with the result that he may not put: ut nōn pōnat
  • vīvō, vīvis, vīvit, vīvimus, vīvitis, vīvunt
  • Present active subjunctive: vīvam, vīvās, vīvat, vīvāmus, vīvātis, vīvant
  • Present active subjunctive: bibam, bibās, bibat, bibāmus, bibātis, bibant
  • Present active subjunctive: fīam, fīās, fīat, fīāmus, fīātis, fīant
  • Present active indicative: dēsinō, dēsinis, dēsinit, dēsinimus, dēsinitis, dēsinunt
  • Present active subjunctive: dēsinam, dēsinās, dēsinat, dēsināmus, dēsinātis, dēsinant

Linguam Latīnam discunt, ut in Rōmā antīquā vīvant. They learn the Latin language, so that they may live in ancient Rome. Intellectually that is. As a way to forget about the present troubles, which is actually a pretty good reason to learn Latin.

Lecture 4 The Irregular Verbs Sum and Possum

Learn two important irregular verbs, sum (I am) and possum (I am able), mastering their present tense indicative, imperative, infinitive, and subjunctive forms. Notice how the tiniest linguistic details can be powerful markers, giving rise to Latin's great economy of expression.

Lecture 5 Introduction to Third-Declension Nouns

Having conjugated verbs, now learn to decline nouns. In this lecture, investigate the largest class of nouns, called third declension. Discover the function of the five cases and how to identify the noun stem. Then practice with masculine and feminine nouns.

Watched on 05-07-2020 at 16:47 PM

Lecture 6 Third-Declension Neuter Nouns

After a review of verb and noun endings covered so far, focus on third- declension neuter nouns, specifically the word corpus (body). Note the distinctive features of the neuter declension, then practice these endings. Close by exploring several celebrated Latin expressions that feature corpus.

  • Watched on 2020-05-13 at 08:55 AM

I'm enjoying the way he subtly throws in small snippets of Latin into his lectures to slowly create an immersive experience.

  • Things like unus... unus, duo... unus, duo, tres for "one... one, two... one, two, three".
  • Today he's added optime for "excellent", iteramque for "and again", and subtly referred to himself as magister.
  • His traditional hello today was taken as given only in Latin and not translated.
  • He also changed his goodbye mostly without translation and he's added Gratia vobis ago. Curate ut valeatis.


"Corpora [nōn] sumus"—Cicero in Tusculanae Disputationes
We are not bodies.
"Hostēs ex corporibus pugnant"—Caesar
The enemies fight from on top of the bodies.

Lecture 7: tk

Lecture 8: tk

Lecture 9: tk

Lecture 10: tk

Lecture 11: tk