Learning Latin Is Like Slaying a Magnificent Dragon

From Carla Schodde’s delightful Five Reasons Why Latin Should Be Taught in High Schools. All five reasons she cites are excellent answers for the skeptics in your acquaintance, but this is my favorite!

It’s thousands of years older than you. It’s beautiful. It’s dark and scary. It shrieks with dreadful guttural sounds (pulcher, gaudium, quoque) and ominous diphthongs (augur, aedificium, proelium). It twists and contorts itself in myriad configurations. But how it soars, how it climbs upon the heights! How it dances, how it plays, how it strikes and wheels about! What deadly grace, what searching insight, what primordial fury.

Everyone’s heard of it but few have dared to take it on. It knows so many words for ‘kill’. And you never thought you’d be able to do it. But when you do, you are left with such a feeling of exhilaration, that as you gaze upon the cowed and noble beast, a feeling of sadness for its demise and profound respect for its strength and cunning fills your exhausted limbs. It was a worthy adversary, a challenge that brought you places you never thought you’d go. It left a mark on you that you will never forget.

Afterwards you’ll bring it up in pubs, at gatherings, over a pint of beer, and people will remember you for it. It has a mythical, legendary quality. Some people can’t believe it the first time you tell them, and think they must have misheard you. It will enter the folk memory of the people you meet. It will be more memorable than your name.

“You’re that person who slew that dragon… you’re the one who knows Latin.”

Five reasons why Latin should be taught in schools

San Giorgio e Il Drago Firenze by Salvator Rosa, 1600s

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