Latin at Advanced Level gives you further training in logical thinking and insight into the structure of language. It also offers you the chance to enjoy a wider range of interesting and thought-provoking Roman literature, both poetry and prose.
As well as being very rewarding in its own right, Latin is still a deservedly impressive subject to have on your application forms for university or future employment. It supports the study of English, History or Modern Languages, but is also studied with great success alongside Mathematics and Science.
Awarding body: OCR
You will start by revising and refining your understanding of the grammar and syntax you learnt at GCSE as well as meeting new and more sophisticated constructions. These you will practice initially through exercises, with much more emphasis on translating from English into Latin than at GCSE. Gradually you will gain the expertise to translate not just sentences but whole paragraphs of English into stylish, idiomatic Latin. Although this may seem rather daunting at first, most students are surprised to find how much fun it is, how much it improves their command of the language and how satisfying it is to get all the grammar right and produce a paragraph that really reads like Latin! At the same time, you will gain further confidence and fluency in translating from Latin by reading a selection of different authors and genres, which can be chosen to suit the interests and tastes of the group. In your Upper Sixth year you will concentrate on two specified authors – the historian, Livy and the poet, Ovid – in order to become familiar enough with their characteristic vocabulary and style to tackle extracts from their work unseen.
Advanced Level Latin offers you the chance to study key texts in much greater depth, which we will enjoy reading and discussing together in class, with particular emphasis on their literary qualities. These will include extracts from the last book of Virgil’s epic poem, ‘The Aeneid’, culminating in the final confrontation between Aeneas and his Rutulian adversary, Turnus, and a selection of shorter, more personal persons by Catullus, or what Ovid imagined Penelope might have wanted to say to Odysseus, Briseis to Achilles and Dido to Aeneas. In prose you will study part of the defence speech from a murder trial, written by Cicero, Rome’s most brilliant barrister, or an extract of historical writing from Tacitus or Livy. To broaden and deepen your appreciation of context, you will also be expected to look at related literature in English translation.
Latin can take you anywhere! There are many exciting university courses in Classics and also many combined courses: Latin with English, Modern Languages or History, as well as many other possibilities. Latin is also useful to anyone wishing to read English, Theology, Philosophy, Law, History, Archaeology, or Modern Languages, or anyone interested in museum or library work. Former OLA Latin students who have gone on to study Medicine or Veterinary Science say that it really helps with learning all the anatomical and other scientific vocabulary. Computer companies and many branches of the business world look favourably on people who have studied a formal language like Latin.
To enjoy Latin and make good progress requires a sound understanding of the work covered at GCSE and an interest in language and literature.
Preparatory work for studying Latin in the Sixth Form
Take home a copy of Oxford Latin Course 2 which is based on the life of the poet, Horace, and the exciting period of history through which he, Catullus, Cicero, Virgil and Ovid lived. Read through the stories and background information and try some English into Latin sentences in the Grammar and Exercises section at the back. If you enjoy historical fiction, there are some excellent books which will take you into the atmosphere of the Roman world:
• Robert Harris: Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator – a very good introduction to the study of Cicero.
• Steven Saylor: any of his Roma Sub Rosa series featuring a detective called Gordianus the Finder and Cicero again, but in a rather less attractive light!
Or on a lighter note:
• Lindsay Davis: either the Marcus Didius Falco series, which starts with ‘The Silver Pigs’ or the Flavia Albia series, which starts with ‘The Ides of April’.
Watch any of Mary Beard’s programmes about Rome.
If you find yourself near a Roman site or museum in this country or abroad, take a look.