Why Study Latin? To Learn Greek!

Thomas Babington Macaulay, The London University:

“The Latin language is principally valuable as an introduction to the Greek, the insignificant portico of a most chaste and majestic fabric. On this subject, our Confession of Faith will, we trust, be approved by the most orthodox scholar. We cannot refuse our admiration to that most wonderful and perfect machine of human thought, to the flexibility, the harmony, the gigantic power, the exquisite delicacy, the infinite wealth of words, the incomparable felicity of expression, in which are united the energy of the English, the neatness of the French, the sweet and infantine simplicity of the Tuscan. Of all dialects, it is the best fitted for the purposes both of science and of elegant literature. The philosophical vocabularies of ancient Rome, and of modern Europe, have been derived from that of Athens. Yet none of the imitations has ever approached the richness and precision of the original. It traces with ease distinctions so subtle, as to be lost in every other language. It draws lines where all the other instruments of the reason only make blots. Nor is it less distinguished by the facilities which it affords to the poet. There are pages even in the Greek Dictionaries over which it is impossible to glance without delight. Every word suggests some pleasant or striking image, which, wholly unconnected as it is with that which precedes or that which follows, gives the same, sort of pleasure with that which we derive from reading the Adonais of poor Shelley, or from looking at those elegant, though unmeaning friezes, in which the eye wanders along a line of beautiful faces, graceful draperies, stags, chariots, altars, and garlands. The literature is not unworthy of the language. It may boast of four poets of the very first order, Homer, Æschylus. Sophocles, and Aristophanes,—of Demosthenes, the greatest of orators—of Aristotle, who is perhaps entitled to the same rank among philosophers, and of Plato, who, if not the most satisfactory of philosophers, is at least the most fascinating. These are the great names of Greece; and to these is to be added a long list of ingenious moralists, wits, and rhetoricians, of poets who, in the lower departments of their art, deserve the greatest praise, and of historians who, at least in the talent of narration, have never been equalled.”

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2 thoughts on “Why Study Latin? To Learn Greek!

  1. Pingback: Why latin? To learn greek of course! | Spirit of Cecilia

  2. Florion Kerpi

    Albanian is the key to ancient Greek language because of it more then 700 one syllable two letter words. And thousands of 3 lerret one syllable words. Its been documented as ancient and not imported. Albanian is key to Etruscan and Latin too.

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