Reading Material In Latin

Some thoughts

Once upon a time (actually once upon a very long time) I learned Latin at school (or rather I didn't at the time). Quite some time later I tried to confront the puzzle of the Latin language a second time using "Wheelock's Latin". I worked through the entire text book but afterwards made the error of not following up. Two reasons for that:

  1. My Latin aspirations got sidetracked by my interest in astronomy.
  2. I was not yet ready for the real Latin authors (not even for Caesar) but was not aware of reading material which might bridge the gap.

Again some time later I gave it another try and this time found plenty of reading material on the Internet. Thanks to the scanning campaigns of Google and Microsoft (THANKS to both of these companies for that!) many books can now be downloaded for free, and legally too. This way lots of Latin material is available, both text books (lots of them) for learning Latin grammar, and readers (for all levels of knowledge).

Having enough reading material is very important for acquiring reading proficiency which really deserves that name. Linguists use the term "comprehensible input" for such material.

So here is a small selection of texts:

Level 1: Absolute beginners

  • Cornelia (Mima Maxey, 1933): this book provides a continuous text beginning at the easiest level possible but advancing as the story unfolds. Of all the listed texts, this one is the easiest.
  • Carolus et Maria (Marjorie J. Fay, 1933): this book starts at the easiest level possible and provides a continuous story.
  • Julia - A Latin Reading Book (Maud Reed, 1941): For absolute beginners as well, difficulty level increases continually, with a few passages from Latin poets interspersed, however (can be safely ignored).
  • Narrationes Faciles de Historia Romanorum: a large selection of easy texts concerning Roman history (or legend) compiled by John P. Piazza. Scroll to Latin history narratives.
  • Narrationes Faciles de Mythologia Romana Graecaque: a selection of easy texts concerning Roman and Greek mythology compiled by John P. Piazza. Scroll to Latin mythology narratives.
  • Colloquia Latina (Benjamin D'Ooge, 1888): a series of dialogues for beginners.

Level 2: Beginners

  • Ora Maritima (E.A. Sonnenschein, 1927): this book also contains a continuous story, however, with the additional benefit, that Evan Millner (LATINUM-podcast) has created an audio version of it.
  • Pro Patria (E.A. Sonnenschein, 1907): this book is a sequel to "Ora Maritima" by the same author.
  • Latin Stories for Reading or Telling (W.H.D. Rouse, 1935)
  • Varius Libellus ad usum scholarum (U.E Paoli, 1961)
  • Ritchie's Fabulae Faciles (F. Ritchie/J. Copeland Kirtland, 1905): these are the well known stories about Perseus, Hercules, the Argonauts, and Ulysses by Francis Ritchie.
  • A First Latin Reader (H.C. Nutting, 1912): this Latin reader is special in that a large part of it does not treat Roman history but that of America.
  • A Latin Reader For The Lower Forms In School (H.J. Hardy, 1889): another book with short and unique Latin stories.
  • Ciceronis filius (U.E Paoli, 1964): once you have learned all the grammar, this is an ideal introduction to the ordinary world of the ancient Romans. Definitely a must-have.
  • Corderii Colloquiorum Centuria Selecta (Corderius/John Clarke, 1759): this book is different from the other in that it does not contain stories but dialogues. It is an ideal starting point for anyone interested in learning how to speak Latin (or write dialogues in that Latin). As an aside: a modern phrase book containing only a few dialogues but many lists of important phrases and respective vocabulary is John C. Traupman's Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency.
  • Easy Latin Plays (M.L. Newman, 1913): this booklet contains two easy Latin plays, ideal for anyone interested in dialogue.

Level 3: Intermediate

  • Mysterium Arcae Boulé (Burton E. Stevenson, translation by Arcadius Avellanus): a crime-novel set in New York transcribed by me and donated to Gutenberg.org.
  • Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare, translation by Henricus Denison): William Shakespeare's drama in Latin transcribed by me and donated to Gutenberg.org.
  • Pericla Navarchi Magonis (Léon Cahun, translation by Arcadius Avellanus): an adventure novel about an expedition of a Phoenician trader transcribed by me and donated to Gutenberg.org.
  • A list of all publications by Arcadius Avellanus can be found at TUSCULANEUM.
  • Rebilius Cruso (Francis William Newman): inspired by Daniel Defoe's novel, but not a translation of the same.

Level 4: Advanced

Again, this is only a small selection of what is to be found out there.

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