Preface – Welcome to 2000 years of Latin Prose

From the left: Hroswitha, Hieronymus, Descartes, Cicero, Caesar, Heloise and Abelard, Copernicus, Nepos, DaNTE, ST. PERPETUA

2000 years of Latin Prose


his project, 2000 years of Latin Prose, has several faces: It is a digital anthology over Latin Prose; it is a course that will teach not only about texts written in Latin but about the authors who wrote them and their contexts. It is an odyssey, a journey through two millennia of Latin literature, prose to be exact.

We will set out on this odyssey, this anthology, with Ennius, 200 years B.C. and work our way through Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Reformation on towards Industrial times. 

What you can expect

Every other week or so, a new text in Latin will be published here on accompanied by an English translation, a short introduction to the author and the work from which the text is taken. If necessary we will also make sure to provide you with a short explanation to the context in which the text was written. There will also be an audiofile and a video with the audio and text combined so that you can listen and read the text easily. We aim for the videos to have optional English subtitles, however this might vary due to time. 

Should we deem it necessary, you will also find keywords and commentaries to the text.

Charlemagne, Tycho Brahe, Ennius

With 2000 years of Latin prose we want to show the range of Latin prose throughout history and give you an insight to how rich it is. This means you will not only be met with famous authors, but also with historically important texts, curious things, perhaps funny texts and forgotten gems. You will meet not only texts representative of eloquent, well-written Latin, but also texts about unexpected subjects and from unexpected sources. 

We will publish the texts more or less chronologically, at times it is difficult to know exactly when a text was written — we then make an educated guess and fit them where we see proper. This means you will also travel through time and see before your eyes a Latin Prose timeline develop.

This odyssey through Latin Prose is also, as mentioned, a grand course in the history of Latin literature, as well as a great opportunity for everyone, no matter what level of Latin you know, to learn more Latin — and get a blooded tooth for more. 

How to use the anthology

This anthology can be used in several ways:

  • As an opportunity to read Latin

  • As a way to discover more Latin

  • As a way to learn more Latin

  • As an insight to Latin Prose history

  • As a way to develop a study habit

  • As enjoyment

Should you want to use it to better your Latin or learn more Latin — which we highly recommend — here are some tips:

  • Always begin by reading the introduction to the author and the works. It is always easier to understand a text when you know who wrote it, when, in what genre and in what context.

  • Listen to the audio or watch the video several times.

  • When reading the original text, make sure to use the keywords and the commentary for the text. They will help you with oddities that some authors might be using.

  • Don’t hesitate to use the translation if you feel you need to.

  • In what order you listen, read or read and listen together is up to you and what suits you best. We suggest you use the text, the audio and the video at least once each, as different input of the same material triggers different parts of your brain.

  • Finally, repetition is key to learning a language. So watch the video (with or without subtitles) over and over again, until you internalise the language. Check out this article for a method of studying Latin texts.

Join the Sodalicium because we regularly send out tips, updates and learning material.

About Pronunciation

We have chosen to record the texts with a restored classical pronunciation. This might not seem like an odd choice when it comes to classical texts, but we have decided to keep the pronunciation the same throughout the anthology. So, even though it can be argued that we should read medieval texts with say soft C:s, we have chosen to keep the pronunciation consequent throughout.

The reason we have chosen to keep to restored classical pronunciation is to make it as easy as possible to understand the texts as you listen to them, and to make it easy to learn Latin and its vocal lengths, not to produce something that sounds like it might have been. For this reason, to keep it simple and easy to listen to and learn, we have also chosen not to use elision.

Hildegard von Bingen, Marco Polo

The pronunciation of the Latin language has changed throughout 2000 years, it has also differed from region to region, making a “correct” pronunciation very difficult. Should one research into specific eras? Into specific regions? Take into account how an author whose first language was not Latin might have sounded him- or herself as they read their work out loud? The variables are so many.

So, we aim instead to keep it simple. The purpose of 2000 years of Latin Prose is after all to introduce you to fantastic texts and help you understand them and learn from them.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself

Remember to enjoy the texts. Take a deep breath and read the texts as you would a good book in your native language. Try to understand what they are trying to communicate. What is being said to you through the text?

If you find yourself dissecting and picking the text apart too much, twisting and turning every idiom, every word, every grammatical construction; make sure you take a break and take a deep, long breath.

Then come back and try to enjoy the text again. 

Don’t fret if you find the texts difficult. These are not beginner texts. These are passages from some of the most brilliant masters of the Latin language.

Go through them, use the translations, and then as your Latin gets better with study and time, come back to them. They are meant to be examples of all the wonderful Latin literature there is to explore throughout history. And, if you find something you really like – go to the library, read more. Cherrypick if you want to! 

2000 years of Latin Prose is meant as an anthology, as a course, as an odyssey, as a journey, an adventure and a peak into the treasure-trove of Latin literature. So sit back and enjoy the ride! 


Chapters published thus far:

Medley 2 - welcome to 2000 years of Latin prose.jpg

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