Last winter I bought Wheelock’s Latin 6th Ed., a very famous Latin language beginner textbook. Having spent several weeks on the grammar, the words, the texts, I decided to try to read the ancient passages, i.e. Loci Antiqui (Ancient Passages) and Loci Immutati (Unchanged Passages).
As just a starter, these articles have very many new words and I had to be referred to the footnote and sometimes online dictionaries, which slowered my translation work. It’s well known that a lot of English words come from French which is also a member of Italic languages and evolved from Latin. Nowadays a large number of modern people as well as myself get in trouble with procrastination. This word has a root “cras” from Latin “crās”, which means “tomorrow”. There’s a short poem on procrastination by Martial among these articles, see L.I. 49.
So it seems easier to guess a Latin word’s meaning through English, and what’s more, French and even Russian. For example, “vesper” means “evening” in latin and it’s cognate with the Russian word вечер （transcription: vecher). In order to master any language, it’s necessary to remember thousands of words. I haven’t reached that level in such a short time. But sometimes there’s mistake or confusion. Take the Latin word “frequēns”. Obviously the English word “frequent” originated from it. In ancient times, “frequēns” had a meaning “crowded”, but after many years, this meaning is obsolete in English.
And perhaps I needn’t be a master. I learned Latin myself only for my interest, not because it’s useful or can bring me rewards. The general frame of this language has been built for me, mainly of grammar, and that’s enough. Since I’ve learned French before, to comprehend Latin grammar is much easier and more fluent for me, and I’m also pleased by the precise grammar rules. Let me quote the words of Margaret Thatcher:
I believe in grammar, but I did not really know about it until I learnt a little Latin—-and that is a gift, an absolute gift.
Also now after accomplishing the translation of all the passages in this book, I can eventually say: “Latīnae linguae studēre coepī.”
This work really brought me delight, despite of difficulty. I was amazed by the structure of sentences with magnificent impact and the ancient wisdom contained in these passages. A large part of these were written by Cicero, or at least related to him. He was really really a eloquent speaker and gave a rather powerful denunciation against Catiline. And we can also read his enthusiastic encomium to literature, his historical articles about Greek philosophers, a family letter to his wife, and his tragic death described by Livy. Besides, stories of the Greco-Persian War are told by Nepos, in which is the very famous Marathon battle. And there are also some poems: the lovesick Catullus expresses his painful romance with Lesbia, Horace lauds the golden mean which was an important ethical idea in Aristotle, Phaedrus tells some fables familiar to us, Martial’s poems are often short, but thoughtful.
I’ve updated my work to dropbox, hoping it might help someone who’s studying the old language. Since my English writing is not so well, I have to take the most cumbersom way and translate it almost literally. Even so, there must be plenty of mistakes or defects. I’d like to receive as many better ideas and suggestions as possible.