This summer I participated in the Living Latin in Rome organized by Paideia Institute. LLIR is an intensive program conducted almost exclusively in Latin. This year’s theme was Horace’s poetry. In seminar-style daily meetings we read and discussed Horace and the relevant cultural and historical material in Latin. In the afternoon we explored the archaeological sites and museum. These tours—and oftentimes lectures—were also in Latin and included additional readings and activities in Latin. The readings featured a diverse selection of historical passages and literary excerpts related to the visit. Additionally, there were optional evening gatherings Sub Arboribus, which allowed the participants to practice spoken Latin in an informal setting. The program was primarily set in Rome but included a two-day trip to Tivoli & Villa Hadriana & Palestrina, and to Horace’s villa in Licenza, where we got an opportunity to recite Horace in Latin.
A non-comprehensive list of our tours includes: Obelisk tour; Esquiline churches; Auditorium of Maecenas; a walking tour around Tiber island, Circus Maximus, Aventine; Campus Martius walking tour; Hadrian’s Villa; Villa d’Este; Praeneste; Via Appia + Catacombs; Roman forum and Palatine; Capitoline Hill and museums; Horace’s villa in Licenza. This was my first time in Italy so visiting these sites with knowledgeable guides who held the tours in Latin was a priceless experience.
This course was a transformative step in my Latin-learning journey because it allowed to me acquire a new perspective on how to approach teaching and learning an ancient language. Putting my passive knowledge to an active use was incredibly challenging, but I saw a remarkable progress in just those two weeks. Practicing Latin like a living language improves not only your speaking capacity, but also your intuitive understanding of it ,which then makes reading and comprehending Latin easier. Moreover, even though I have read, and translated, Horace a number of times before, this lively, active engagement with his poetry made me comprehend the nuances and understand the subtle dynamic that have escaped me before and that only come from the complete immersion in language.