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Good book for learning Medieval Latin

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Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby TonyLoco23 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:49 pm

Can anyone recommend a good book for learning Medieval Latin?

I have already completed Wheelock's Latin and Lingua Latina Part 1: Familia Romana. So I am looking for something targeted to someone at about that level.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby adrianus » Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:51 pm

I have and like Keith Sidwell's Reading Medieval Latin. Certain parts are at that level; certain (many) above. A little better than Harrington's Medieval Latin which is just readings and brief notes.
Habeo et amo hunc librum citatum. Quaedam partes pari conditione cum illis de Wheelock et Orberg sunt, quaedam (multae) super. Eum librum illi apud Harrington "Medieval Latin" nomine paenè praefero quae collectio locum ex aliis operibus excerpta cum brevissimis annotationibus est.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby Imber Ranae » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:38 am

Just to be clear about what you're getting into, there is really no specific, unified "Medieval Latin" that can be learned in a comparable way to classical Latin. There are certain syntactical tendencies and usages (and of course spellings) quite foreign to classical Latin which become increasingly prominent in later Latin writers and continue into the Medieval era, all of which can of course be learned, but few to none of them are universal to all authors or even all periods of the era.

Medieval Latin is really a hodgepodge of various writers from various time periods and places with varying levels of education and skill in writing Latin, who have different purposes and different conceptions about what the Latin they're writing should look like. As such, many medieval Latin texts do not diverge so significantly from the classical standard as to present much difficulty to a student already familiar with the latter, while other texts may be so highly influenced by the vernaculars and post-classical developments in Latin that they almost resemble some particular romance language more than they do Latin. I suppose what most unifies Medieval Latin is the shared ideas, values, and cultural assumptions (and consequently much of the lexis) which is decidedly Christian in perspective.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby adrianus » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:08 am

Without the Medieval latinists there would be no so-called classical latin because they preserved and shaped the tradition by transmission of texts. The latin language spoken in Rome and beyond was much more varied than the very limited "classical latin tradition" that we have inherited via academic scholasticism.

Sine latinistis medii aevi lingua quam classicam vocamus iam pridem lapsa esset. Illi homines scripta custodientes corpus classicum texerunt adfeceruntque. Multùm plùs variana lingua urbis aeternae et regionum ultrá quàm illa brevior nobis legatam à scholasticis academicis.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby Imber Ranae » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:37 pm

adrianus wrote:Without the Medieval latinists there would be no so-called classical latin because they preserved and shaped the tradition by transmission of texts. The latin language spoken in Rome and beyond was much more varied than the very limited "classical latin tradition" that we have inherited via academic scholasticism.

Sine latinistis medii aevi lingua quam classicam vocamus iam pridem lapsa esset. Illi homines scripta custodientes corpus classicum texerunt adfeceruntque. Multùm plùs variana lingua urbis aeternae et regionum ultrá quàm illa brevior nobis legatam à scholasticis academicis.


I don't dispute any of that, of course, but I also don't see how it addresses my point (assuming it was meant to be a response to me at all).
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby adrianus » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:00 am

You used the word "hodgepodge" which can disparage, and as if the language of any period isn't similarly non-homogeneous.
Farraginis vocabulum scripsisti quod deroget, sicut sermonis omnis aevi similiter quidem eiusdem generis non est.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby Imber Ranae » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:25 am

adrianus wrote:You used the word "hodgepodge" which can disparage, and as if the language of any period isn't similarly non-homogeneous.
Farraginis vocabulum scripsisti quod deroget, sicut sermonis omnis aevi similiter quidem eiusdem generis non est.


I don't consider the word "hodgepodge" particularly disparaging in this context; it's merely descriptive. There are degrees of homogeneity.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby cantator » Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:53 am

adrianus wrote:... A little better than Harrington's Medieval Latin which is just readings and brief notes...


By the way, the earlier edition of Harrington's book is the one to get. True, it's not a treatise on Medieval Latin per se, but it includes a brief summary of differences that might be useful enough for someone just getting into ML from Wheelock.

Over the years I've read most of it. Definitely recommended as an anthology, not so definitely as an introduction to ML grammar.

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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby lauragibbs » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:26 am

For a really fun and entertaining way to start reading medieval Latin and to get acquainted with some of the characteristic features you will find in much medieval Latin narrative prose, the Gesta Romanorum is GREAT. There is a convenient online edition at Claude Pavur's site:
http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/language ... r/gr1.html

If you want some sources, the appendix in the back of Oesterley's edition is really masterful; you can find Oesterley's edition of the Gesta online at Internet Archive - the notes to the stories begin on p. 714:
http://www.archive.org/stream/gestaroma ... 4/mode/1up

I would rate the Gesta as the easiest-to-read medieval Latin prose text, and it is also something truly worthwhile because of the way it presents many of the well-known anecdotes and legends that circulated widely in Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

There is such a variety of medieval styles that I find all the anthologies, including Harrington, to be more confusing than helpful. They just don't give you enough to work with for any given author. Based on my own experience, I think it's more worthwhile to find an important, easy text to start with - the Gesta, some book of the Vulgate, a play by Hrosvitha like the Dulcitius, the Navigatio Brendani, the Exempla of Jacques de Vitry, the Carmina Burana, something that really grabs you for some reason - and then STICK to that for a good chunk of time, working on the same text until you start to really get used to it, and THEN move on to another text. Just my opinion. :-)
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby adrianus » Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:10 pm

That's very wise, lauragibbs, with lovely sources and suggestions!
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby TonyLoco23 » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:58 pm

Excellent! Thanks to everybody for that.

And especially thanks to Adrianus for his book suggestions and Lauragibbs for the suggestion on free online resources.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby lauragibbs » Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:00 pm

There are so many great online resources!

The Latin texts at the Bibliotheca Augustana are organized chronologically here:
http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/a_chron.html

So, for example, you can find the Hrotsvitha's Dulcitius at that site:
http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/Chron ... _dr02.html

and the Navigatio Brendani:
http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/Chron ... _navi.html

There is all kinds of great stuff, and the text is easy to cut and paste so you can make your own print-out, with large font, big margins for taking notes.

You can find other medieval texts at GoogleBooks and InternetArchive, but there is a big advantage in having a nice clean digitized text that you can cut and paste! The Bibliotheca Augustana is a great place to browse and look for Latin materials you might want to try reading from any time period.

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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby dlb » Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:36 pm

lauragibbs wrote:There is such a variety of medieval styles ... some book of the Vulgate, ...


Just for my information, you are saying that the Vulgate is classified as medieval Latin?
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby lauragibbs » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:23 am

dlb wrote:Just for my information, you are saying that the Vulgate is classified as medieval Latin?
Thanks,
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As someone already pointed out here, medieval Latin is not really a linguistic classification; it is a historical one - but the Vulgate Bible is indeed filled with characteristically "Vulgar" Latin, rather than classical Latin prose. Its influence on medieval writers was tremendous. Reading through some books of the Vulgate Bible is a great way to make the transition from classical Latin prose to the developments that are characteristic of later Latin (and which, in many cases, were probably features of spoken Latin in the classical period, too, but not of classical written style).

In fact, there is at a translation of the Bible into classical Latin style - it is by Sebastian Castellion. You can find that online at GoogleBooks: if you are familiar with the Vulgate Latin, this classical Latin version is very odd to read indeed!
http://books.google.com/books?id=ojYUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA1
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby cantator » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:26 am

lauragibbs wrote:For a really fun and entertaining way to start reading medieval Latin and to get acquainted with some of the characteristic features you will find in much medieval Latin narrative prose, the Gesta Romanorum is GREAT.


More FUN than GREAT, I'd opine. ;)

I would rate the Gesta as the easiest-to-read medieval Latin prose text, and it is also something truly worthwhile because of the way it presents many of the well-known anecdotes and legends that circulated widely in Europe throughout the Middle Ages.


The only problem I have with the Gesta is that it's relatively uninteresting, e.g. compared to the letters of Heloise to Abelard. However, I readily agree that the grammar is simple enough for beginners in the idiom.

There is such a variety of medieval styles that I find all the anthologies, including Harrington, to be more confusing than helpful. They just don't give you enough to work with for any given author. Based on my own experience, I think it's more worthwhile to find an important, easy text to start with - the Gesta, some book of the Vulgate, a play by Hrosvitha like the Dulcitius, the Navigatio Brendani, the Exempla of Jacques de Vitry, the Carmina Burana, something that really grabs you for some reason - and then STICK to that for a good chunk of time, working on the same text until you start to really get used to it, and THEN move on to another text. Just my opinion. :-)


Right, except that the CB is a large collection of poems with many styles and forms represented, some of which the reader is unlikely to know how to handle without some prior work in metrics. The Gesta is similarly a big book, though with more consistent style. Again I'd suggest keeping a copy of Harrington or another reader nearby. It's nice to break from the more focused study every now & then.

The Vulgate is such a fundamental work for the culture of the Middle Ages that it's simply an indispensable volume for the serious student of all European Medieval literature, regardless of language.

Btw, check out Joszef Herman's book Vulgar Latin, it's a short introduction to the study, very readable and informative.

Just my two soldi, of course.

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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby TonyLoco23 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:58 pm

lauragibbs wrote: For a really fun and entertaining way to start reading medieval Latin and to get acquainted with some of the characteristic features you will find in much medieval Latin narrative prose, the Gesta Romanorum is GREAT. There is a convenient online edition at Claude Pavur's site:
http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/language ... r/gr1.html


Thanks again, that site has it laid out in easy to read, large font and is really helpful. I have just finished translating the first of 220 chapters. :lol: Does anybody know of an english translated version so that I can check my work?
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:21 pm

I am glad you are having fun with that! My personal favorite is the story of Jovinianus! It is chapter 148:
http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/language ... /gr15.html
There is no special order to the stories, so you should definitely feel free to jump around and read the chapters where the first few sentences just grab you for some reason!

There is a version of the Gesta that you can find online at Internet Archive: Gesta Romanorum, Or, Entertaining Moral Stories by Charles Swan. Here is Volume I, Tale 1 (following the very long Introduction):
http://www.archive.org/stream/gestaroma ... 7/mode/1up
Here is volume 2 (unfortunately he restarts the numbering in Volume 2 at Tale 1, which can be very confusing - "Tale 1" in volume 2 here is equivalent to Capitulum 170 at the Latin website):
http://www.archive.org/stream/gestaroma ... 6/mode/1up

So, this is the equivalent to your Capitulum 1 in Swan:
http://www.archive.org/stream/gestaroma ... 8/mode/1up

But here's what is really tricky: these are FOLKTALES and they exist in many many many different variant versions - the version in Swan is not a translation of the Latin text you are reading, but a different version of the same story. In some ways, that is a good thing - it can give you an idea of the main flow of the story, but it is not a word-for-word rendering of the Latin (in fact, the differences can be huge) - so, the Latin you still need to be reading for yourself!

The story of Iovinianus (Jovinian) in the English is here if you are curious:
http://www.archive.org/stream/gestaroma ... /mode/1up/
It is an amazing folktale that you can find in both Christian and Jewish sources in the Middle Ages; I don't know if it is also an Islamic folktale or not (one of the very interesting things about medieval European folklore is the huge number of stories that came from Arabic and Indian sources) - maybe if you read the English version at Swan you would be inspired to tackle the Latin. It is a longish story but really fabulous.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby furrykef » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:27 pm

TonyLoco23 wrote:that site has it laid out in easy to read, large font

You know you can adjust your browser settings so that every site has an easy-to-read, large font, right?
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby TonyLoco23 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:58 pm

cantator wrote:More FUN than GREAT, I'd opine. ;)
...........
The only problem I have with the Gesta is that it's relatively uninteresting, e.g. compared to the letters of Heloise to Abelard. However, I readily agree that the grammar is simple enough for beginners in the idiom.


:lol: :lol: :lol: I see what you mean Cantator, I have now read the first 9 tales, and the way the story builds up in each, you are expecting that there is going to be some really really clever twist in the plot, but in the end the story ends completely predictably.

However, it is certainly easy to read and is helping me immensly with learning new vocab.

lauragibbs wrote:My personal favorite is the story of Jovinianus! It is chapter 148

Thanks again Lauragibbs, i will try that one out next.
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby TonyLoco23 » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:34 pm

I have been working my way through the Gesta Romanorum.

Tale 9 is about the son of a king who is constantly trying to kill his father, at the end they reconcile with one another and live happily ever after.
http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/readers/gr/gr1.html

The title of the tale is: "De Filia Patrem Persequentem." Which seems to mean something like:

"Of the daughter persuing the father"

2 questions:

1) There is no mention of a daughter in the tale, so why is "Filia" feminine?

2) Why is "Persequentem" in accusative form? Should it not be in ablative to match the noun that it is describing (Filia)

Therefore should the title not be:

"De Filio Patrem Persequente"
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby adrianus » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:30 pm

I read the page online and I do completely agree, TonyLoco23: it should be "About a Son Attacking His Father".
Istam paginam in interrete perlegi et tecum adusquè concurro. Sic titulus scribendus est: "De Filio Patrem Persequente".

Also "Pater hoc videns in locum desertum perrexit et filiam secum duxit..." --> "...filium secum duxit..."
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Re: Good book for learning Medieval Latin

Postby lauragibbs » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:35 pm

You are right about the title I think! I will send a note to Claude Pavur who maintains that website so that he can fix the title. Thank you so much for pointing that out.

Remember how I had mentioned that there are many different versions of the Gesta and not all Latin versions are the same because they are based on different manuscripts? Now that you are familiar with that story (which is from the version edited by Wilhelm ****), you might find it interesting to read a different version of it, the one edited by Oesterley, which is online at GoogleBooks; here is the link
http://books.google.com/books?id=6n4NAA ... &q&f=false

Oesterley includes the long allegorical sermon that was originally attached to each story; these are usually left out in modern English translations of the Gesta, and they are not included in Claude Pavur's website. Even though they seem very strange to us now, they represent one way of reading and interpreting stories that was very widespread during the Middle Ages.
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