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Wanted: List-Major Classical Authors-Order of Difficulty

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Wanted: List-Major Classical Authors-Order of Difficulty

Postby persequor » Tue May 17, 2011 9:51 am

Avete omnes:

I am a self-taught Latin learner whose reading in Latin literature has mostly been in the Vulgate. As I continue my studies, I am seeking to widen my Latin reading. I am presently working through Latin Selections | Florilegium Latinum , ed. Moses Hadas  and Thomas Suits (found in a used book store years ago). It contains both prose and poetry selections, with extracts from Seneca, Caesar, Cicero, Sallust, Tacitus, Livy, Apuleius, Virgil, Ovid, the younger Pliny, and Augustine. I started with the selection from Cicero's De Senectute, and am now reading an extract of his First Oration against Catiline.

I was wondering if any of our forum members have made any lists (or know of any lists online) of classical Latin authors ranked in order of reading difficulty that they would share with me. Also, if you know of any ready-made lists of key vocabulary to learn for each author, that would be helpful to have. My budget does not presently allow buying anything for this purpose, so any freebies members could share or point me to would be deeply appreciated. 

Gratias vobis ago!

Persequor 8)
Carpe diem!--¡Aprovecha el día presente!--Seize the day!
---Poēta Rōmānus Horātius, Carmina (Odes), a.C. XXIII/DCCXXXI A.U.C.
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Re: Wanted: List-Major Classical Authors-Order of Difficulty

Postby furrykef » Tue May 17, 2011 11:04 am

Well, "difficulty" is a hard thing to pin down because it depends on what you've studied before. Many would consider Caesar easier than Cicero, but I think Cicero might be easier for me because I'm more familiar with his style (since Wheelock uses his style as a sort of gold standard). We can probably agree, though, that the Vulgate is on the "easy" end of the spectrum (at least for English and Romance speakers), due to increased similarity with Romance, and Plautus is on the "hard" end of the spectrum, since Plautus often used words, expressions, and grammar that are archaic even by Classical standards. Poetry is also a lot harder to read than prose, and I find Martial easier to read than, say, Catullus or Virgil.
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Re: Wanted: List-Major Classical Authors-Order of Difficulty

Postby cb » Tue May 17, 2011 2:49 pm

hi, i agree with furrykef; i think an author-difficulty list is personal to each learner, for the reasons i explained in this post (on ancient grk, but the same generally applies to latin although the "base" concepts you need for latin aren't identical to those you need for grk):


cheers, chad :)
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Re: Wanted: List-Major Classical Authors-Order of Difficulty

Postby thesaurus » Fri May 27, 2011 10:45 pm

The easiest authors tend to be the ones you've spent the most time with. I know that isn't helpful, but I've found that a new author is always difficult when first starting. After you read for a while, you get a hang of the vocabulary, syntax, grammar, expressions, etc. that they like to use. Cicero is considered a "difficult" author because of long sentences, but I have a much easier time reading him than, say, Tacitus, because I've spent a lot of time with Cicero. I might feel like I know all the vocab there is, but when I open a new author, especially poetry, I'm confronted by a bunch of unknown words and difficult constructions.

With that said, I've found Boethius, Apulleius, and Tacitus to be very difficult. They are all idiosyncratic. Tertullian is also said to be very tough. Note that all of these authors wrote after the so called "golden age." Seneca is an author that I found confusing at first, due to strange vocabulary and syntax, but got easier quickly.

If you stick with one time period or genre, you'll also have an easier time. As noted, poetry is more difficult than prose in almost all cases.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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