Department of Greek & Latin


Guest Speakers

We were very fortunate to have two guest speakers join us throughout the course of the workshop.

Dr. Pauline Souleau, a lecturer in French at the University of Oxford, spoke to us about the challenges of teaching conversation in modern language, and shared the importance of structuring a language course that prioritizes speaking and listening skills for the sake of understanding the consequential transformations of grammar and vocabulary from the written to the oral form of a language. Dr. Souleau's lecture initiated a lively discussion that addressed questions of conventional methods in Latin language teaching, and distinctions between the register of Latin we are used to seeing in classical literature versus the register we should aim for when speaking Latin. The conversation expanded to encompass the broader aims of Latin pedagogy: should we treat Latin sentences as codes to be broken? To what extent can the structure of the language itself provide insight into the culture? To what extent can and should active use of the language be perceived as a benefit to understanding the Ancient Roman world?

A. Gratius Avitus, a fluent Latin speaker and founder of the Circulus Latinus Londiniensis (London Latin Circle), addressed the participants for one hour in Latin, introducing them to a range of resources, organizations and events which teach and explore uses of Latin as a living language. Videos of Living Latin communities in action demonstrated remarkable variation in individual speaking styles (accents, pronunciation, inflection, and idiosyncracies in vocabulary), and exhibited each speaker's unique ability to bring the language to life. Avitus' talk was eye-opening for participants, some of whom were astonished at the amount of content they could readily understand, even if it had been years or decades since they had encountered formal instruction in Latin.

Avitus also led a highly stimulating short literary seminar, where participants read and discussed (in Latin) the opening of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini (style, themes, and noteworthy areas of engagement with textual precedents in classical Latin, especially in the epic tradition). Avitus was an excellent facilitator, encouraging participants to offer responses to his questions in as much depth and completeness as they were comfortable providing. This activity showed particular potential for further development either in extended sessions in further workshops, or in a regularly meeting Latin conversation group setting, ideally with the facilitation of an experienced Latin speaker.

Avitus explaining a literary passage entirely in Latin.jpeg

Avitus explaining a literary passage entirely in Latin!