of Wheelock's Latin
I use Wheelock with my high school students.... We
emphasize Latin/English derivatives and vocabulary in general (as a sort of
sequencing for AP). And, since the words in Wheelock are derived from
authentic ancient texts, the students are in a really good position to
approach author-level Latin when they get there. I'm a big fan of Wheelock's
Latin vocabulary and a big fan of [the accompanying] flashcards.
—Daniel DiCenso, Latin teacher, Seneca High
School, Tabernacle, New Jersey
I use Wheelock as a grammar review text for AP
students (4th year, ranging from 9th-12th grade), alongside their intensive
Cicero/Catullus readings. They first spend 3 years in the Cambridge Latin
Course. They love Wheelock -- helps them consolidate a lot that they have
learned but not organized, as it were.
—Karen Zeller, Homesource School, Eugene, Oregon.
appearance in 1956, Frederic Wheelock's introductory Latin text has
remained the standard in the field, a classic in its own right. I myself
have used this work for over twenty years: as a high school freshman and
again in college; for review and reference in graduate school; and now as my
textbook of choice as a professor of Latin. Its basic premise remains as
sound as ever, namely that the optimal way to learn classical Latin is to
read the best ancient authors as soon as possible. The focus on real
classical Latin, as well as the emphasis on the philosophical and literary
culture of the Roman world, has made this text not only a primer of the
Latin language, but also a fine introduction to classical humanism and a
cornucopia of ancient authors.
Over the years, the various editions, first prepared
by Wheelock himself and then by his able successor, the eminent classicist
Richard LaFleur, have preserved the genius of Wheelock's vision, while
making improvements based upon the suggestions of generations of colleagues
and students. The sixth edition is still made up of 40 chapters with
translation exercises, additional sections of self-tutorial exercises with
answer keys, extended selections of ancient authors for further reading,
appendices containing summaries of grammatical forms, a glossary, and
grammatical index. However, recent editions have seen refinement and
expansion of grammatical explanations, the use of larger print, more
readings in continuous Latin within the chapters themselves, and helpful
sections on English etymology and Romance language derivatives. In response
to the needs and expectations of contemporary students, an enjoyable and
helpful section containing informal discussion of familiar Latin phrases et
alia has been added to each chapter, entitled Latina est gaudium et
utilis (Latin is fun and useful).
The new sixth edition continues the tradition. A fine
color reproduction of a mosaic of Virgil and his muse now graces the cover.
Many photographs of classical and later European art have been added to the
individual chapters, reflecting a theme from history or mythology
illustrated in the chapter readings. Three new maps, of ancient Italy,
Greece and the Aegean, and the Roman empire, respectively, have been
specially designed to include Latin names of places mentioned in the various
readings. Many of the practice exercises have been revised to better
integrate recently-learned vocabulary and syntax, and the English-Latin
vocabulary section of the glossary has been expanded.
All of these changes are welcome because they
strengthen the core of Wheelock's Latin, namely, the selections from
ancient authors. The Sententiae Antiquae in each chapter present
sources of classical wisdom with accompanying translation exercises and
introduce the student to the best authors. Furthermore, LaFleur has
amplified the already wide range of prose and poetry selections in the
chapter readings. While Cicero, Horace, and Catullus still remain at the
center of the text, the witty epigrams of Martial, Trimalchio's teary-eyed
comic recitation of his epitaph from Petronius' Satyricon (266), and
Seneca's satirical description of the Emperor Claudius' "excremental
expiration" (241) are just a few examples of the variety of authors and
genres. This wide selection, along with the fine survey of Latin literature
found in the introduction, provides students of many needs and backgrounds
with an excellent grounding in Roman literature and culture.
The second edition of a Workbook for Wheelock's
Latin is most welcome, although it must be said that the textbook itself
already contains more exercises than one can use in an average college
course. The workbook repeats much of what is already found in the
self-tutorial exercises, but arranges the material in ways more
pedagogically helpful and aesthetically appealing. The exercises are
designed not only to test vocabulary and grammar, but also to ask questions
requiring students to think about the grammar they are learning. The
workbook also does not include the answers, an important consideration when
assigning exercises for classroom and home use! The pages of the workbook
can be easily detached, and thus easily collected. The authors are to be
congratulated for producing a workbook so well integrated with the text.
Selectively used, it can enhance student understanding of grammar and
provide helpful review material.
For those long familiar with Wheelock's Latin,
the new edition shows the continuing vitality of a venerable pedagogical
classic. Likewise, those Latin teachers who remember only the earlier
editions may want to take a fresh look at what will undoubtedly continue to
be an important introductory textbook for new generations of Latin students.
–Dr. William Hyland, Assistant Professor of Classics, St. Norbert
College, reprinted with permission of The NECTFL Review.
WHEELOCK AND COMMUNICATIVE TEACHING
I was given a set of Wheelock's 6th edition at a
recent ACTFL conference and I was reading the Foreword, written by Professor
Wheelock's daughters. I quote: "When students needed to learn grammar, they
read lessons and literature from the great ancient writers who used the
grammar in a meaningful context. Our father sought to graft the vital flesh
and blood of Roman experience and thinking onto the basic bones of forms,
syntax, and vocabulary; he wanted students to transcend mere gerund grinding
by giving them literary and philosophical substance on which to sharpen
I then picked up my old first edition (the 1957
reprint of the College Outline Series edition) and read Wheelock's own
remarks: "It can hardly be disputed that the most profitable and the most
inspiring approach to ancient Latin is through original Latin sentences and
passages derived from the ancient authors themselves. With this conviction
the writer perused a number of likely ancient works excerpting sentences and
passages which could constitute material for the envisioned beginners' book.
A prime desideratum was that the material be interesting per se and be not
chosen merely because it illustrated forms and syntax."
Now, my question is: how did we get so far from these
principles of communicative teaching, so well stated, to the memorization of
forms and drilling of forms and memorizing of vocabulary lists and so on
that make up the bulk of some teachers' course work and of so many textbooks
Note that when Wheelock himself says "Repetitio mater
memoriae" (p. x of 1957 ed.), he doesn't mean that students must simply
repeat a given word over and over in a kind of drill pattern but rather, in
his text, "great effort has been made to secure its repetition in the
Sententiae Antiquae or in the Practice and Review of a number of the
immediately following chapters, as well as elsewhere in the rest of the
This is what any good communicative teacher does.
--Pat Barrett, Westwood High School, Mesa, AZ
The Wheelock's Latin Series isn't complete without:
Wheelock's Latin Reader
Originally intended as a sequel
to Wheelock's Latin, this is the ideal text for any
intermediate-level Latin course. Read not only classical authors
but also medieval and late Latin writers.
Workbook for Wheelock's Latin
You will find in this essential companion to
Wheelock's Latin transformation drills, word power sections,
reading comprehension questions and more.
Need a dictionary?
Gem Latin Dictionary
This best-selling Latin mini-dictionary
comes with a verbs and nouns supplement; numbers, dates and measures; plus
an index of geographical names.
Collins Latin Concise Dictionary
This is a Latin dictionary and grammar—two
books in one. It also has supplements on Roman history, life and culture;
words and phrases used in English; and more.
Latina est Gaudium -
terra in the Vocab....now do you think of ET? In the 1980s
the little guy was everybody's favorite ExtraTerrestrial
(from extra, prep. = acc., beyond, + terra).
Until he became familiar with the terrain, he was in a
terra incognita; but once he'd learned the territory he
felt he was on terra firma. (WL, p. 48)
- And, you
Caesar fans, can you believe that all three of the following
have the same translation (well...sort of!): Caesar,
Caesar! Caesar eam videt. Caesar,
cape eam! According to tradition, Caesar's last
words to the assassin Brutus were et tu, Brute? (To
which Brutus hungrily replied, according to the late great
Brother Dave Gardner, "Nah, I ain't even et one yet!") (WL,
- The root
meaning of recitare, by the way, is to arouse again
(cp. "excite," "incite"); when we "recite" a text, we are
quite literally "reviving" or bringing it back to life, which
is why we--just like the Romans--should always read
literature, especially poetry, aloud! (WL, p.
- Wondering how
the same verb, legere, can mean both to pick out
and to read? Because the process of reading was likened
to gathering and collecting the words of a text. What a
splendid metaphor: we are all of us (especially Latin
students) "word collectors" ! "Gather ye rosebuds while
ye may"... and also the delights of language.
- The Romans had
special names for each of the fingers, beginning with the
thumb, pollex, then index (from indicare,
to point), medius (middle) or infamis
(infamous, evil--not all of our body language is new!),
quartus or anularius (where they often wore
anuli, rings: see "Ringo," Ch. 31), and minimus (the
smallest) or auricularius (the parvus digitus,
and so handy for scratching or cleaning one's aures!).
- And here's a
brief "kissertation" on the nicest word in this new list:
osculum was the native word for kiss (vs. basium,
which the poet Catullus seems to have introduced into the
language from the north); it is actually the diminutive of
os, oris (Ch. 14) and so means literally little mouth
(which perhaps proves the Romans "puckered up" when they
smooched!). Catullus, by the way, loved to invent words, and
one was basiatio, kissification or