Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to play an extraordinarily

constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope St. John Paul II







1983 Code



1917 Code


 Liber Extra



 Eastern Code


1152 x 864


30 nov 2017

Latin for Graduate Students (LA 500)



Notices ►


General remarks


Latin is not the way ancient Romans spoke English, it's the way ancient Romans spoke. Grasp that and one has the essence of the thing.


This course presents what must be understood about Latin in order to learn and use Latin.


Class meets: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, Room 110.


Required text: None. Students must, however, have in-class access to William Whittaker's Words or another electronic or downloadable dictionary such as 'Lewis & Short' or 'SPQR'. But see Suggested Resources below.


Class format: Lecture and translation exercises. The goal is to have the grammar and syntax presented by the end of October, leaving November and early December free to practice using the techniques outlined.


Course grading: PASS/FAIL based on one's performance on various translation exercises to be completed outside of class. No midterm or final.


Additional remarks


This course assumes no prior study of Latin; its goal is to show students how to acquire a reading knowledge of Latin suitable for use in a Catholic, graduate, theological context.


A two-credit survey course is, of course, insufficient time to acquire enough Latin grammatical forms and vocabulary so as to approach Latin texts independently. Students should memorize as best they can the various forms encountered in this course (the benefits of doing so are many!) but they should especially strive to learn how to use the various translation tools and techniques discussed in this course.


The differences between "Classical Latin" and "Ecclesiastical Latin" are real but routinely exaggerated. This course inclines toward ecclesiastical usage (though the point is insignificant in this context).


Suggested resources


Students engaged in graduate level study of Ecclesiastical Latin should have access to the following works.

Richard Prior & Joseph Goldberg, 501 Latin Verbs Fully Conjugated [1995], 2nd ed., (Barron's, 2008) 689 pp.


John Collins (1937-2002), A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin [1985], (Catholic University of America, 1988) 451 pp., and John Dunlap, An Answer Key to Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin (Catholic University of America, 2006) 168 pp.


Basil Gildersleeve (1831-1924), Gildersleeve’s Latin Grammar [1867], as revised by Gonzalez Lodge, (Dover, 2009) 546 pp.




These prayers use

prose prompts.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.


Pater Noster, qui es in cælis: sanctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum; fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cælo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie; et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris; et ne nos inducas in tentationem; sed libera nos a malo.


Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.


Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto; sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.


Topic 01



Orientation to Ecclesiastical Latin

Concepts include: History, Fundamental Syntax, Parts of Speech



  • Peters, Ecclesiastical Latin, here.

Distinguishing Latin grammar and syntax from English grammar and syntax.

  • Latin is not English, Latin is not English, Latin is not English! Latin and English are not simply different languages in the way that, say, English and Spanish are different languages. Rather, Latin and English are different kinds of languages.

Identifying parts of speech.


Some learning techniques.

  • Peters, Basic Prayers in Latin, here.

  • Nuntii Latini, here.

Topic 02




Concepts include: Declension, Number, Gender, Case.

Read about it in Collins, Chaps. 1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 19.

  • Handout, Nouns

Topic 03


Concepts include: Agreement, Degrees of Comparison

Read about it in Collins, Chaps. 4, 16, 28


Topic 04

Verbs (Regular, Indicative)

Concepts include: Number, Person, Tense, Conjugation

Read about it in Collins, Chaps. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13

  • Handout, Verbs (Regular)

Topic 05

Verbs (Irregular, Indicative)

Concepts include: Number, Person, Tense, Conjugation

Read about it in Collins, Chaps. 3, 12, 17, 33, 34

  • Handout, Verbs (Irregular)

Topic 06

Prepositions, Conjunctions, Adverbs

Concepts include: Literal and Metaphorical use, Degrees of Comparison

Read about it in Collins, Chaps. 1, 27


Topic 07


Concepts include: Personal, Relative, Possessive

Read about it in Collins, Chaps. 10, 19, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29

  • Chart, Relatives

  • Chart, Personals

  • Chart, Possessives

  • Peters, General Ecclesiastical Latin Charts, here.

  • Peters, Models for Using Relative Pronouns (Adjectival Phrases), here.

Topic 08

Key Syntax

Concepts include: English coincidence and conflict, Word Order, Dative of the Possessor, Power of the Ablative


Topic 09

"Curve Balls"

Concepts include: Deponent Verbs, Subjunctive, Imperative, Subject-Accusative, Demonstratives

Read about it in Collins, Chaps. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30

  • Handout, Demonstratives

Topic 10 and onward

The Latin Sentence



Codex plerumque non definit ritus.


Ecclesiae Romanae Episcopus Collegii Episcoporum est caput, Vicarius Christi, atque universae Ecclesiae in terra Pastor.




Canones Codicis Ecclesiam latinam respiciunt.


Sanctus Petrus et ceteri Apostoli unum Collegium constituent.




Leges respiciunt futura non praeterita.


Plenam et supremam in Ecclesia potestatem Romanus Pontifex obtinet legitima electione.




Consuetudo est optima legum interpres.


Christifideles solliciti esse debent ut societas civilis libertatem parentibus agnoscat.




Officium ecclesiasticum sine provisione canonica valide obtineri nequit.


Ex divina institutione, inter christifideles sunt in Ecclesia ministri sacri.





Fuit quidam comes Imperatoris qui sedebat in domo sua et habebat quendam parvulum natum, et iacebat coram eo et non erat in domo alius praeter eum.


Misit autem Caesar et vocavit eum. Ille vero surrexit et ivit ad eum et reliquid cum infante canem, venatorem sagacem, inferius, qui canis iacebat iuxta puerum.


Et ecce serpens affuit et insurrexit in puerum. Cucurrit canis et praesit serpentem et obviavit supradicto domino. Os autem canis plenum erat sanguine.


Comes ille videns haec timuit propter filium et evanginato gladio interfecit canem.


Et vadens domum reperit puerum iacentem et serpentem mortuum iuxta eum, et vidit quod sine causa peremit canem et penituit facti