Vintage Textbook Find: A Primer of Medieval Latin

After your first year or year-and-a-half of Latin , particularly if you have used Fr. Most’s books, you will be ready for a Latin Reader supplement. An excellent choice for visitors to this site would be Charles Beeson’s A Primer of Medieval Latin from 1925 which is now out of copyright and available, scanned and uploaded, online. This classic in its genre will be of use to those especially interested in the medieval use of Church Latin.

An attempt has been made to include as many of the great names as possible from Cassiodorus to Roger Bacon; to give specimens of various literary types ; to present the widest possible view of the manifold aspects of medieval culture; and to give examples of the different kinds and styles of Latin.

Introduction, A Primer of Medieval Latin, by Charles H Beeson

Some of the best selections for the second-year student are the many fables included inside. However, Prof. Beeson was afraid the book would be dismissed because of these fables:

“Here my chief fear has been that I might confirm the opinion or add to the number of those who think that the Middle Ages produced nothing serious or dignified outside of law and theology. But a knowledge of this material is essential to an understanding of the medieval mind; it plays too great a role in the vernacular literatures to be passed over, and it comprises literary documents that are extremely important ā€” the writers of these tales are the heirs and successors of the Orient in the fine art of story-telling.”

Overall a great resource for intermediate students to practice reading real, actual Latin selections from the Age of Faith. Depending on your level of fluency, you can pick out smaller or larger selections, all while having the satisfaction of knowing that you are already reading actual, historical documents while further increasing your skills!

2 thoughts on “Vintage Textbook Find: A Primer of Medieval Latin

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    1. I’m so glad to hear that this site is helping you out! Thank you for letting me know. It will keep me hard at work! šŸ˜‰

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