Ok, first of all, I'm not here to trash learning dead languages, or Latin for that matter. This is a serious question for me, and I don't intend to be disingenuous. Some background: I have been self teaching myself Latin on and off for a while, and I think I'm going to give up on that and study Greek. This isn't an easy decision for me, since I really like Latin, but I think I'm pretty much decided. I just wanted to know if there's anyone who is up to giving Latin a spirited defense which might tip me the other way.
Personally, I don't have the time in my life to learn both, otherwise I probably would. Obviously motivation is a large part of why someone should learn any language, and I think my motivation is one of the most common: I want to read the "classics." Now, obviously, the Aeneid and the Metamorphoses are classics, and so is Ceasar. One of the big draws for me is some of the early modern philosophical literature that's in Latin (Descartes, Spinoza, Bacon).
But, it's always seemed odd to me, that what comes to mind when someone says the word, "classic," is usually the Latin language, followed by a list of Greek books (Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, and of course the New Testament). I attribute this discrepancy to the long history of learning Latin as the international language of scholars since the Middle Ages. But, if one only has time to learn one classical language, does the literary and philosophical corpus of Latin works really outweigh that of Greek? I don't think it does.
I do think there are two other reasons for learning Latin: sound and opportunity. I really enjoy the feel and sound of Latin, and I am drawn to it partly because of that. But I feel that the relatively harder work in learning Greek would pay off more than it would for Latin. The other reason is opportunity. Learning Latin seems to be much more popular than learning Greek, and therefore there are many more materials as well as students to practice with. I really like that there's a growing movement of spoken Latin; I think that's a encouraging thing. I only wish the same could be said for Greek.
In the end, however, I think I will have to take the lonelier (only comparatively) road of Greek, because I just don't think there's enough in Latin that I want to read, compared with the works in Greek that I've only read in translation. I'm not a historian of Rome or the Middle Ages, otherwise Latin would be indispensable. I think Rome is very interesting, but some of the best Roman era writings were in Greek (Marcus Aurelius, Polybius, etc.) I'm interested in the Latin writing Romans, but I think that Cicero and Lucretius are interesting, but not as much of a foundation of the Western tradition as, say, Plato (I mean, I can't imagine not reading Plato, so I would love to read him in the original).
So, I repeat, I enjoy Latin. I worked my way almost halfway through Familia Romana, when I had a crisis of faith. Is there anyone who can convince me I should stick with Latin?