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Classical Latin: An Introductory Course

JC McKeown

2010 - 442 pp.

Format ISBN Price Qty
Cloth 978-0-87220-852-0
Paper 978-0-87220-851-3
Examination 978-0-87220-851-3

PNG (200 x 260)

eBook available for $34.00. Click HERE for more information.


A companion workbook is also available for sale both individually, and together with the text as a set.



Extensively field-tested and fine-tuned over many years, and designed specifically for a one-year course, JC McKeown's Classical Latin: An Introductory Course offers a thorough, fascinating, and playful grounding in Latin that combines the traditional grammatical method with the reading approach.

In addition to grammar, paradigms, and readings, each chapter includes a variety of extraordinarily well-crafted exercises that reinforce the grammar and morphology while encouraging the joy of linguistic and cultural discovery. 


"To all my Latin colleagues: switch to this book! I have taught from half a dozen different Latin texts over the years, and have always wished there was something else I could be using. Finally that something else has arrived! I was pleasantly surprised at its accessibility, liveliness, and clarity.
    "I have used it for two years now at the University of Delaware with great results. It fits extremely well into a two-semester elementary program. Each chapter features clear explanations of a manageable amount of material, with a variety of exercises ranging from simple to difficult, so the instructor can select what to give the students.
    "The most capable students can do more difficult exercises, the average student is challenged but not overwhelmed, and the students with weaker language abilities are able to make it through the language requirement successfully. I have told all my friends in the field to try this book!"
     —Lynn Sawlivich, University of Delaware


"These days there are two types of Latin course. One of them is the traditional course and it is into this category that McKeown's book falls. The other is the inductive course, best known from the Cambridge and (less uncompromisingly) the Oxford Latin courses.
     "McKeown's book is an admirable embodiment of the traditional methodology. . . . As could be anticipated from the author of the lively Cabinet of Roman Curiosities (2010), he eases the diet of rote learning and sentences with strong and varied injections of information about the Latin language and Roman life that entertain as much as they stimulate. I cannot think of any other course that comes close to McKeown's in this respect: we have a wonderful melange of poetry, etymology, maxims, facts bizarre and sober, in addition to much else.
     "The book is splendidly produced. Grammar is helpfully laid out; constructions are explained with notable clarity: it is obvious that the material has been constantly redrafted in the course of repeated testing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where McKeown teaches, and it is no doubt a college market for which it will prove best adapted. It could be completed in a (pretty intensive) year.
     "You will not do better than McKeown's book if you want the traditional approach."
     —James Morwood, [Wadham College], Oxford University, in The Classical Review



"The publication of McKeown's Classical Latin is very exciting. It is going to be fun to teach from! It is thorough yet not pedantic; it covers all the important material in a logical fashion, and it does not have the silliness that is found in some elementary Latin texts. I am planning to adopt it for Elementary Latin (a year course, in which I think McKeown will fit very nicely) the next time I teach the class. It will be a great improvement over the text I have used for years and years."
     —Jane Crawford, Professor of Classics, University of Virginia



"McKeown's Classical Latin is lucidly written, succinct, intelligent, and accessible. The traditional presentation is complemented by active language acquisition strategies and will appeal to all kinds of language learners. The length of the book and the length of each chapter are manageable and in a classroom setting could be adapted to a two-semester course or a six-week intensive course with equal success. It could also serve the self-learner and the home school market."
     —Cynthia White, Associate Professor of Classics, The University of Arizona



"Classical Latin will allow us to benefit from McKeown's wealth of experience and his earned wisdom about teaching Latin. The wide range of materials and exercises not only are targeted for different learning tasks, but also will complement a variety of teaching styles. The engaging, relevant, and copious cultural content and the online study tools are a welcome addition."
     —Peter J. Anderson, Assistant Professor of Classics, Grand Valley State University



"Classical Latin represents a masterful melding of the best of traditional and contemporary pedagogy, and is a charming, delightful course in elementary Latin from a master Latinist.  I wasn't looking for a new beginning text, but Classical Latin proved irresistible."
     —Lee Fratantuono, Ohio Wesleyan University



"Classical Latin has many points in its favour and little to be said against it. Students who work through it on a day-to-day basis will reach the end of the semester with a knowledge of basic Latin, and in my case, and to my surprise, a significant number were capable of reading authentic texts by Eutropius, Caesar, and Phaedrus. If my students could study Classical Latin over two successive semesters, I have no doubt that they would be in a position to begin to read Caesar perfectly well, as long as they followed the method from beginning to end and learned the required vocabulary. A warm welcome, then, to this new and even entertaining method if it enables our students to make suitable progress in Latin in such a short time."
     —Antonio Ramírez de Verger, Universidad de Huelva, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review



"McKeown's Classical Latin is not new in approach but is rich in fresh material, presenting itself as a competitor to the Wheelock. McKeown's order of presentation seems to me judicious, as each chapter builds nicely upon the previous one, more or less weaving back and forth from verbs to nouns until reaching adjectives. This text also comes to the perfect system slightly quicker than does the Wheelock. Its structure is, in my view, superior to any other textbook on the market.
     "The book seems to me to achieve basically all that it sets out to do. Grammar is emphasized and reinforced by vigorous exercises designed to strengthen vocabulary while mastering both parsing and translating. There are also readings drawn from ancient texts in each chapter (Lege, Intellege), though these are not for translating per se but rather designed for reading and understanding, which one might regard as a tip of the hat to the inductive approach.
     "The centerpiece of each chapter contains detailed explanations of grammar, straight-up vocabulary, and various readings such as those described above as well as sections entitled "Ars Poetica” and "Aurea Dicta." The first set of these quotations from ancient authors includes translations of each, while the second requires the student to render them. Both approaches seem to me good, as such maxims are interesting enough for the student to try to decode and memorable enough to stay in the student's mind.
     "Each chapter also includes a section entitled Lusus, which essentially serves as an extension of the vocabulary and includes words for recognition along with etymologiae antiquae. These consist of fascinating explanations of various tidbits of Roman culture, from place names to body parts to family members.
     "It would be an understatement to say that the field of Classics owes the Wheelock a great debt. But as in the case of the James Bond series, one has to ask just how many more times it can be revised. Perhaps the time has come for a new secret agent and a new Latin textbook, as well. Based on methodology, order of presentation, and overall design, Classical Latin may be that book. The name is McKeown, James McKeown."
     —condensed from Alden Smith, CJ-Online 2012.02.02

JC McKeown is Professor of Classics, University of Wisconsin–Madison.





To access additional exercises and audio recordings for pronunciation, please visit the Classical Latin website,


To download PDFs of the Table of Contents and the Preface, Introduction, and chapters 1-2 from the Classical Latin textbook, please click on the links below.

    •  Classical Latin textbook - Table of Contents (80 kb)
    •  Classical Latin textbook - Preface, Introduction, and chapters 1-2 (756 kb)

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