Foreign Languages: Studying Greek & Latin
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day
We are often asked for our opinion regarding the importance of the study of foreign languages. For most students, there is, perhaps, no greater intellectual accomplishment than to master a foreign language. Many benefits accrue to students who do so: the ability to communicate with the peoples who speak the language learned; the ability to read their literature and gain a new cultural perspective; greatly enhanced understanding of language and its structure, including of English; deeper understanding of words derived from or cognates of the foreign vocabulary learned; intellectual discipline; the inevitable sense of accomplishment. These benefits accrue to anyone who learns any foreign language. But two languages in particular stand out as providing these benefits in unique and special ways, simply because they are the main root languages of Western culture – Greek and Latin. Here are some comments on this subject by recognized beneficiaries:
“Hardly any lawful price would seem to me too high for what I have gained by being made to learn Latin and Greek.” – C.S. Lewis
“To read Latin and Greek authors in their original, is a sublime luxury. I thank on my knees him who directed my early education for having put into my possession this rich source of delight; and I would not exchange it for anything which I could then have acquired, and have not since acquired.” – Thomas Jefferson
As J.W. MacKail put it: “Latin and Greek are not dead languages. They have merely ceased to be mortal.”
“I now entered the first class of what today would be called the gymnasium for classical languages [Greek and Latin]…In retrospect it seems to me that an education in Greek and Latin antiquity created a mental attitude that resisted seduction by a totalitarian ideology.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Memoirs
Such quotations could be multiplied here – and perhaps they should be. Both of these ancient, inflected languages greatly contribute to a knowledge of English, from its ancient roots. As the modern Romance languages (including Spanish, Italian, French, inter alia ) all stem from Latin, their mastery is much simplified by learning Latin first. Moreover, both languages open a whole new depth of penetration into the meaning of the most important books (and words) written for a span of nearly 2,000 years (from the Iliad and the Bible through the High Middle Ages).
So we strongly recommend the study of both Greek and Latin, for all of the above reasons. However, we do not disagree, with respect to public education, with the opinion of Jacques Maritain who wrote, in Education at the Crossroads:
“In my opinion, the study of Greek and Latin would represent chiefly a waste of time for the many destined to forget them: Latin, Greek, Hebrew (or at least one of these three root-languages of our civilization) should be learned later on—much more rapidly and fruitfully – by graduate students in languages, literature, history or philosophy. During the humanities, moreover, comparative grammar and philology would provide students with a most useful knowledge of the inner mechanisms of language. And foreign languages, studied not only for practical purposes but also in connection with the national language, would afford the required means of gaining mastery over the latter (particularly through exercises of translation)…comparative grammar and philology should be taught as instruments rather than as sciences, and in a manner fitted to the sphere of knowledge of the young- before the college, during the years of secondary education.”
It may be observed, with respect to the above quotation, that what is being recommended in not that foreign languages not be studied, but that the manner of the study in high school years be somewhat limited, to translation exercises and comparative grammar and word study, to be followed in college with more comprehensive study. It is hard to dispute that, for students who do not go on to college studies in linguistics, literature, history, philosophy, theology, medicine, law or fields involving international relations, the usefulness of learning a foreign language many be quite limited. Of course, in the United States, a knowledge of Spanish is becoming increasingly important, and, arguably, even essential in the Southwest. Spanish derived from Latin, and is very similar to it (additionally, one who learns Spanish can communicate with Italian-speakers, if roughly), which may soon force the following critique to become obsolete:
What does one call someone who speaks two languages? Answer: bilingual
What does one call someone who speaks three languages? Answer: trilingual
What does one call someone who speaks only one language? Answer: American
The approach of our Great Books programs is somewhat nuanced. Our students, for the most part, are heading on to college or a university, and are already seriously engaged in the humanities in the Great Books program. We begin with study of the ancient Greeks, followed by the ancient Romans. So a serious study of ancient Greek and Latin, begun in the elementary years, has far more potential for benefit for such students than for others, particularly if drawn to the classics (as many are) and desirous of reading them in their original language. Nevertheless, the realities of the current educational circumstances in America are that most students do not study the ancient languages, and, these are not essential for the study of the Great books of Western civilization – all of which are available in excellent English translations.
But for those students with the time, inclination and desire, we have organized both a Greek and a Latin curriculum, which is, we believe, the best available. So, consistent with the motto of Robert M. Hutchins, which we have adopted: “The best education for the best is the best educational for all,” we recommend the following texts for the study of classical (Attic) Greek, and Latin. There are different dialects and stages of historical development in both languages.
Following this article is one addressing the differences among classical or Attic Greek, koine (common) Greek (that used in the New Testament), Byzantine Greek (mainly liturgical) and the modern Greek spoken in Greece today. Attic Greek is the ancient Greek dialect of the Golden Age of Classical Athens and the language of the philosophers Plato and Aristotle, the orators Lysias and Demosthenes, and the historians Thucydides and Xenophon. Attic Greek differs from the Epic Greek of Homer and the Koine or Common Greek of the New Testament. Teachers of Greek generally agree that it is easier for students who learn Attic Greek first to go on to Epic or Koine Greek than the reverse. So, even if one’s goal is to read Homer or the New Testament in Greek, it is best to begin by learning Attic (classical) Greek. Unlike Latin, no daughter languages developed from Greek, and it survives only in modern Greece and Byzantine liturgical use.
The similar variations in Latin (classical vs. ecclesiastical [Church or Italianate Latin] vs. Anglo-Norman [used less and less frequently in American courts]), are much less important. The principal difference being in pronunciation, and only notably regarding c’s and g’s (which classical pronounces hard as k’s and g’s [ecclesiastical soft, as ch’s and j’s] and v’s (which classical pronounces as w’s [ecclesiastical as v’s, and ae’s as long a’s].
We encourage students to begin their study of foreign languages early, with ancient Greek and/or Latin, but certainly any foreign language is much better than none. Early familiarity with language is a great aid in later studies. Some studies indicate the onset of puberty is too late for optimal memory work in foreign languages – but better a bit late than never!
We recommend students begin the study of Greek and/or Latin in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd grades. Recommended elementary texts are online at the Academy Bookstore. For students who finish these beginner’s series, and for beginning 5th (if good students) through 12th graders, we recommend the Greek course and the Latin course offered at the bookstore. Unless one knows the language already, the Teacher’s Handbooks will be needed. The vocabulary cards are useful aids as are the CDs and/or cassettes. We also list very helpful websites, including some designed specifically for the Oxford courses, below. Both series share one common co-author, which aids the student with a similarity of approach and technique. Greek and Latin can, of course, be learned sequentially or concurrently. These courses combines the best features of both modern and traditional methods of Greek and Latin teaching.
The interesting encyclical letter on the use of Latin, by Pope John XXIII, Veterum sapientia, follows the next article by Jay Treat. Here are some excellent web resources:
http://www.cornellcollege.edu/Classical_Studies/ariadne/ – to accompany Athenaze
http://artemis.austincollege.edu/acad/cml/jjohnson/athenaze/index.html – to accompany Athenaze
http://web.uvic.ca/hrd/greek/ – to accompany Athenaze
http://www.translexis.demon.co.uk/new_page_2.htm -Good comprehensive article on Greek
http://www.greek-language.com/ -Greek texts
http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~ancgreek/ – Greek tutorial by Donald Mastronade
http://www.greek-language.com/bibliographies/palmer-bib.html – comprehensive bibliography
of Hellenistic Greek Linguistics
http://www.textkit.com/ -alternative texts
http://www.oxford-latin.net/OLC_main.htm -Latin Course related Website (by the textbook authors)
http://artemis.austincollege.edu/acad/cml/rcape/latin/ -Internet workbook for Latin course
http://www.textkit.com/ -alternative texts
Bolchazy Carducci Publishers (800-392-6453) carry a couple of Dr. Seuss books written in Latin, and there is Winnie the Pooh in Latin, which you can borrow from your library.
Differences Between Classical and Hellenistic Greek
A Quick Introduction by Jay C. Treat
The sources listed below indicate ways in which Koinê (or Hellenistic) Greek differs from Classical Greek. The following is a summary of some of the main points they raise.
Robertson characterizes Koinê Greek as a later development of Classical Greek, that is, the dialect spoken in Attica (the region around Athens) during the classical period.
To all intents and purposes the vernacular Koinh is the later vernacular Attic with normal development under historical environment created by Alexander’s conquests. On this base then were deposited varied influences from the other dialects, but not enough to change the essential Attic character of the language (Robertson 71).
If the Koinê is an outgrowth of Classical Greek, what are the differences between the two? Robertson states the basic differences succinctly. Koinê was more practical than academic, putting the stress on clarity rather than eloquence. Its grammar was simplified, exceptions were decreased and generalized, inflections were dropped or harmonized, and sentence-construction made easier. Koinê was the language of life and not of books.
Orthographic changes are relatively minor. Attic tt usually becomes ss. There is a tendency to change rough breathing to smooth breathing, except in words that once contained a digamma (or words used in analogy with them). Elision is not as common in the Koinê but there is even more assimilation than in Classical usage. There is less concern for rhythm. The -mi forms are beginning to drop out. The movable consonants in ou3twj and e0stin are added regardless of whether the next word begins with a vowel, as Classical usages required. Accent by pitch gives way to accent by stress.
Changes in vocabulary are of course too numerous to list here. Generally, it may be said that there are many shifts in the meaning of words and in the frequency of their usage. Some examples that Gingrich gives are as follows. Kalw~j nearly replaces eu], e1sxatoj has taken over teleutai=oj and u3statoj, pro/baton replaces oi]j, and afi/hmi overshadows e9a/w. A dramatic example of a word that shifts meanings is ba/sanoj, which shifts from “touchstone,” to “test,” to “torture,” to “disease.” We notice other important shifts. The cardinal numeral ei[j loses some of its numeric force and become equivalent to the indefinite pronoun tij in many cases. Also, i1dioj is used as a possessive pronoun. e9autw~n is substituted for the Classical first and second person plural reflexive pronouns. Robertson points out that Koinê is not adverse to useful foreign words.
There is quite a bit of difference with reference to accidence. The Ionic substantive form -rhj takes precedence over the Attic form -raj. Possessive adjectives, which Classical Greek used for the emphatic possessive genitive of the personal pronoun, have to a great extent disappeared in Koinê and have been replaced by the personal pronoun in the genitive. The system used to express degrees of comparison in adjectives has been simplified, since superlative forms have mostly disappeared (comparative forms being used in their place) and what vestigial superlatives remain are used mostly in the elative sense.
It is with respect to the verb that most change in accidence has occurred. First, there are no dual forms in Koinê. Secondly, the future tense has retreated. That is, alternative forms are eliminated in that tense; the (non-periphrastic) future perfect is mostly eliminated; the simple perfect is limited mostly to the indicative mood; and the future participle is becoming disused. However, the future indicative is taking on some of the functions of the aorist subjunctive. Thirdly, the optative has a very limited use (which will be discussed later). Fourthly, verbal adjectives in -te/oj are lacking (the only NT example is in Luke 5:38), and those in -to/j have been crystallized into a set group. Fifthly, periphrastic construction is on the increase. Sixthly, the pluperfect in Koinê no longer requires the augment, and the tense sign becomes -kei- instead of -ke-. Lastly, the passive is beginning to gain the ascendancy over the middle voice. Most of these trends can be seen to have carried on into Modern Greek.
In the Septuagint, the verbal ending -san is used with thematic aorists and imperfects; e.g., -ei1dosan, -ela/bosan, and -h1lqosan. Aorist verbs in -a occur more frequently in Koinê; e.g., h]qan.
There are many differences between Classical Greek and Koinê in syntax. Koinê has shorter sentences, more parataxis and less hypotaxis, a sparing use of participles, and a growth in the use of prepositions (although some old ones have died out). Variations of nouns, adjectives, and verbs are often according to sense, and a neuter plural substantive may be used with either a singular or a plural verb. Koinê used personal pronouns in oblique cases much more often, whereas writers in Attic used them only when they were necessary for clarity.
One of the biggest syntactical differences involves the use of the optative mood. Blass notes three Classical uses of this mood. The first is to denote an attainable wish. This use still occurs in the Septuagint, the New Testament, and the papyri, but there is a strong tendency to use the imperative in requests and imprecations. Attic ei1qe and ei0 ga/r do not occur with the optative in Koinê (nor do they occur with the indicative to show an unattainable wish); rather o1felon with the future indicative is employed. The second use is the potential optative in a main clause with a1n to denote what is thought. This use has mostly disappeared, although it does occur in some apodoses of conditional sentences. The future indicative or the subjunctive often replaces the potential optative. The third use of the optative is that in indirect discourse. Koinê uses this function very little; in fact, it uses indirect discourse very little. The iterative optative in subordinate clauses is supplanted by a1n and the imperfect or aorist indicative. Dana says the optative in indirect discourse occurs only three times in the NT but he makes no mention at all of the optative with a secondary tense of verbs of fearing.
In Classical Greek there were five types of conditional sentences (using Blass’s classification): 1) real conditions (ei0 with the indicative), 2) contrary-to-fact conditions (ei0 with an augmented tense of the indicative), 3) conditions of more vivid expectation (e0a/n with the subjunctive), 4) conditions of less vivid expectation (e0a/n with the potential optative), and 5) repetition in past time (ei0 with the optative). In Koinê, type 1 (real conditions) has lost ground, type 2 (contrary-to-fact conditions) persists, type 3 (more vivid conditions) prevails, type 4 (less vivid conditions) is barely represented, and type 5 (repetition in past time) has disappeared. One Classical feature Koinê does not have is the conditional relative clause, in which the indefinite pronoun substitutes for the conditional conjunction.
Another syntactical feature of Classical Greek missing in Koinê is the object clause. After a verb of striving, caring, or effecting, Classical Greek uses o3pwj with the future indicative for the object, but Koinê does not.
In Classical result clauses, w#ste with the infinitive signifies a probable result, while w#ste with the indicative signifies an actual result. The distinction is more nebulous in Koinê and Dana and Mantey say the infinitive here signifies an intended result.
Robertson says that o3pwj has retreated before i3na and w(j before o3ti. i3na took over the function of the final particle and split the function of declarative conjunction with o3ti. He also mentions that mh/ began to take over many of the functions of ou0, except in the combination of ou0 with ei0.
Blass, Friedrich and A. Debrunner. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Translated and revised by Robert W. Funk. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961.
Dana, E. H., and Mantey, J. R. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. New York: MacMillan Co., 1927.
Gingrich, F. Wilbur. “The Greek New Testament as a Landmark in the Course of Semantic Change.” Journal of Biblical Literature 73 (1954): 189-196.
Robertson, A.T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934.
Conybeare, F. C. and St. G. Stock. “Grammar of Septuagint Greek.” Selections from the Septuagint. Boston: Ginn & Company, 1905.
Copyright © 1998 Jay C. Treat. All Rights Reserved.
[Reprinted here with the kind permission of the author]
Why Latin? According to Pope John XXIII
February 22, 1962
THE WISDOM of the ancient world, enshrined in Greek and Roman literature, and the truly memorable teaching of ancient peoples, served, surely, to herald the dawn of the Gospel which God’s Son, “the judge and teacher of grace and truth. the light and guide of the human race,” (1) proclaimed on earth. Such was the view of the Church’s Fathers and Doctors. In these outstanding literary monuments of antiquity. they recognized man’s spiritual preparation for the supernatural riches which Jesus Christ communicated to mankind “to give history its fulfillment.” (2)
Thus the inauguration of Christianity did not mean the obliteration of man’s past achievements. Nothing was lost that was in any way true, just, noble and beautiful.
The Church has ever held the literary evidences of this wisdom in the highest esteem. She values especially the Greek and Latin languages in which wisdom itself is cloaked, as it were, in a vesture of gold. She has likewise welcomed the use of other venerable languages, which flourished in the East. For these too have had no little influence on the progress of humanity and civilization. By their use in sacred liturgies and in versions of Holy Scripture, they have remained in force in certain regions even to the present day, bearing constant witness to the living voice of antiquity.
A PRIMARY PLACE
But amid this variety of languages a primary place must surely be given to that language which had its origins in Latium, and later proved so admirable a means for the spreading of Christianity throughout the West.
And since in God’s special Providence this language united so many nations together under the authority of the Roman Empire–and that for so many centuries–it also became the righful language of the Apostolic See. (3) Pre served for posterity, it proved to be a bond of unity for the Christian peoples of Europe.
THE NATURE OF LATIN
Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor anyone nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.
Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin’s formal structure. Its “concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity” makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of _expression.
PRESERVATION OF LATIN BY THE HOLY SEE
For these reasons the Apostolic See has always been at pains to preserve Latin, deeming it worthy of being used in the exercise of her teaching authority “as the splendid vesture ofher heavenly doctrine and sacred laws.” (4) She further requires her sacred ministers to use it, for by so doing they are the better able, wherever they may be, to acquaint themselves with the mind of the Holy See on any matter, and communicate the more easily with Rome and with one another.
Thus the “knowledge and use of this language,” (5) so intimately bound up with the Church’s life, “is important not so much on cultural or literary grounds, as for religious reasons.” (6) These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church’s nature. “For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time, of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non vernacular.” (7)
Since “every Church must assemble round the Roman Church,” (8) and since the Supreme Pontiffs have “true episcopal power, ordinary and immediate, over each and every Church and each and every Pastor, as well as over the faithful” (9) of every rite and language, it seems particularly desirable that the instrument of mutual communication be uniform and universal, especially between the Apostolic See and the Churches which use the same Latin rite.
When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic world, or when the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle matters or draw up decrees which concern the whole body of the faithful, they invariably make use of Latin, for this is a maternal voice acceptable to countless nations.
Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.
But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use. Certain Latin words, it is true, acquired new meanings as Christian teaching developed and needed to be explained and defended, but these new meanings have long since become accepted and firmly established.
Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and nonvernacular.
In addition, the Latin language “can be called truly catholic.” (10) It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed “a treasure of incomparable worth.” (11). It [Latin] is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church’s teaching. It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity.
EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF LATIN
There can be no doubt as to the formative and educational value either of the language of the Romans or of great literature generally. It is a most effective training for the pliant minds of youth. It exercises, matures, and perfects the principal faculties of mind and spirit. It sharpens the wits and gives keenness of judgment. It helps the young mind to grasp things accurately and develop a true sense of values. It is also a means for teaching highly intelligent thought and speech.
A NATURAL RESULT
It will be quite clear from these considerations why the Roman Pontiffs have so often extolled the excellence and importance of Latin, and why they have prescribed its study and use by the secular and regular clergy, forecasting the dangers that would result from its neglect.
A RESOLVE TO UPHOLD LATIN
And We also, impelled by the weightiest of reasons–the same as those which prompted Our Predecessors and provincial synods (13)–are fully determined to restore this language to its position of honor, and to do all We can to promote its study and use. The employment of Latin has recently been contested in many quarters, and many are asking what the mind of the Apostolic See is in this matter. We have therefore decided to issue the timely directives contained in this document, so as to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained and, where necessary, restored. We believe that We made Our own views on this subject sufficientIy clear when We said to a number of eminent Latin scholars:
“It is a matter of regret that so many people, unaccountably dazzled by the marvelous progress of science, are taking it upon themselves to oust or restrict the study of Latin and other kindred subjects. …Yet, in spite of the urgent need for science, Our own view is that the very contrary policy should be followed. The greatest impression is made on the mind by those things which correspond more closely to man’s nature and dignity. And therefore the greatest zeal should be shown in the acquisition of whatever educates and ennobles the mind. Otherwise poor mortal creatures may well become like the machines they build–cold, hard, and devoid of love.” (14)
PROVISIONS FOR THE PROMTION OF LATIN STUDIES
With the foregoing considerations in mind, to which We have given careful thought, We now, in the full consciousness of Our Office and in virtue of Our authority, decree and command the following:
RESPONSIBILITY FOR ENFORCEMENT
1.Bishops and superiors-general of religious orders shall rake pains to ensure that in their seminaries and in their schools where adolescents are trained for the priesthood, all shall studiously observe the Apostolic Sees decision in this matter and obey these Our prescriptions most carefully.
2. In the exercise of their paternal care they shall be on their guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, eager for revolutionary changes, writes against the use of Latin in the teaching of the higher sacred studies or in the liturgy, or through prejudice makes light of the Holy Sees will in this regard or interprets it falsely. Study of Latin as a prerequisite
3. As is laid down in Canon Law (can. 1364) or commanded by Our Predecessors, before Church students begin their ecclesiastical studies proper, they shall be given a sufficiently lengthy course of instruction in Latin by highly competent masters, following a method designed to teach them the language with the utmost accuracy. “And that too for this reason: lest later on, when they begin their major studies. ..they are unable by reason of their ignorance of the language to gain a full understanding of the doctrines or take part in those scholastic disputations which constitute so excellent an intellectual training for young men in the defense of the faith.” (15) We wish the same rule to apply to those whom God calls to the priesthood at a more advanced age, and whose classical studies have either been neglected or conducted too superficially. No one is to be admitted to the study of philosophy or theology except he be thoroughly grounded in this language and capable of using it.
TRADTIONAL CURRICULUM TO BE RESTORED
4. Wherever the study of Latin has suffered partial eclipse through the assimilation of the academic program to that which obtains in State public schools, with the result that the instruction given is no longer so thorough and well-grounded as formerly, there the traditional method of teaching this language shall be completely restored. Such is Our will, and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about the necessity of keeping a strict watch over the course of studies followed by Church students; and that not only as regards the number and kinds of subjects they study, but also as regards the length of time devoted to the teaching of these subjects. Should circumstances of time and place demand the addition of other subjects to the curriculum besides the usual ones, then either the course of studies must be lengthened, or these additional subjects must be condensed or their study relegated to another time. Sacred sciences to be taught in Latin
SACRED SCIENCES TO BE TAUGHT IN LATIN
5. In accordance with numerous previous instructions, the major sacred sciences shall be taught in Latin, which, as we know from many centuries of use, “must be considered most suitable for explaining with the utmost facility and clarity the most difficult and profound ideas and concepts.” (16) For apart from the fact that it has long since been enriched with a vocabulary of appropriate and unequivocal terms, best calculated to safeguard the integrity of the Catholic faith, it also serves in no slight measure to prune away useless verbiage. Hence professors of these sciences in universities or seminaries are required to speak Latin and to make use of textbooks written in Latin. If ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for some to obey these instructions, they shall gradually be replaced by professors who are suited to this task. Any difficulties that may be advanced by students or professors must be overcome by the patient insistence of the bishops or religious superiors, and the good will of the professors.
A LATIN ACADEMY
6. Since Latin is the Church’s living language, it must be adequate to daily increasing linguistic requirements. It must be furnished with new words that are apt and suitable for expressing modern things, words that will be uniform and universal in their application, and constructed in conformity with the genius of the ancient Latin tongue. Such was the method followed by the sacred Fathers and the best writers among the scholastics.
To this end, therefore, We commission the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities to set up a Latin Academy staffed by an international body of Latin and Greek professors. The principal aim of this Academy–like the national academies founded to promote their respective languages–will be to superintend the proper development of Latin, augmenting the Latin lexicon where necessary with words which conform to the particular character and color of the language.
It will also conduct schools for the study of Latin of every era, particularly the Christian one. The aim of these schools will be to impart a fuller understanding of Latin and the ability to use it and to write it with proper elegance. They will exist for those who are destined to teach Latin in seminaries and ecclesiastical colleges, or to write decrees and judgment or conduct correspondence in the ministries of the Holy See, diocesan curias, and the offices of religious orders.
THE TEACHING OF GREEK
7. Latin is closely allied to Greek both in formal structure and in the importance of its extant writings. Hence as Our Predecessors have frequently ordained–future ministers of the altar must be instructed in Greek in the lower and middle schools. Thus when they come to study the higher sciences–and especially if they are aiming for a degree in Sacred Scripture or theology–they will be enabled to follow the Greek sources of scholastic philosophy and understand them correctly; and not only these, but also the original texts of Sacred Scripture, the liturgy, and the sacred Fathers. (17)
A SYLLABUS FOR THE TEACHING OF LATIN
8. We further commission the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities to prepare a syllabus for the teaching of Latin which all shall faithfully observe. The syllabus will be designed to give those who follow it an adequate understanding of the language and its use. Episcopal boards may indeed rearrange this syllabus if circumstances warrant, but they must never curtail it or alter its nature. Ordinaries may not take it upon themselves to put their own proposals into effect until these have been examined and approved by the Sacred Congregation.
Finally, in virtue of Our apostolic authority, We will and command that all the decisions, decrees, proclamations, and recommendations of this Our Constitution remain firmly established and ratified, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, however worthy of special note.
Given at Rome, at St. Peters, on the feast of St. Peter’s Chair on the 22nd day of February in the year 1962, the fourth of Our pontificate. John XXIII P.M.