In an increasingly multi-cultural and globalized society, it has never been more relevant to learn about ancient societies. Through the study of Latin in its cultural context, we aim to provide a foundation from which pupils may enlarge their linguistic skills in English and other languages. Ideally, pupils will come to appreciate that their study of Latin does not stand alone, but has benefits across their subjects. We aim to improve pupils’ logical reasoning and lateral thinking, enabling them to appreciate the structure of sentences.
Years 7 to 9
All boys at RGS take Latin in Year 7, using the Cambridge Latin Course which immerses students in the life of a Pompeian family living in the shadow of Vesuvius. Boys start to read Latin stories right from the start and quickly progress to being able to read in the present and past tense by the end of the year. They also experience what life was like in Pompeii, from the foods they ate (peacock or dormouse, anyone?) to the entertainments they used to enjoy. We continue to use the Cambridge Latin in Years 8 and 9, which will introduce students to the eruption of Vesuvius, life in Roman Britain, the Roman military, life in Egypt and many more aspects of Ancient Life. By the end of Year 9, they are well-placed to tackle GCSE Latin where they will begin to experience real Latin written by actual Roman authors.
Students continue to progress through the Cambridge Latin Course in readiness for studying real Latin literature. This is always an exciting moment, when they encounter the words of Latin authors and experience the delight of being able to read them for themselves. They will study both verse and prose from a variety of authors; the selection itself changes every few years and so stays vibrant and dynamic, but common choices are Virgil’s heroic epic, Cicero’s vitriolic legal arguments and Tacitus’ historical accounts of wars and intrigue.
In sixth form, students study unadapted Latin texts and get to grips with the actual words of Roman authors. The texts themselves change every few years; next year’s texts include Catullus who wrote a variety of poems dealing with topics such as his passionate yet doomed affair with a married woman to his abusive insults of love rivals, Cicero, the devastatingly ferocious lawyer and Tacitus who writes of the intrigue at the court of the emperor Tiberius.