Latin 414
Medieval Latin and Palaeography
Spring 2006

Instructor: Robert W. Cape, Jr.
Office: Admin. 310         Phone: ext. 2241
Email:      Web Homepage:
Office hours: MWF 2:00 -2:50 post meridiem & by appt.

  • Beeson, Charles H., A Primer of Medieval Latin: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry. Scott, Foresman, and Co., 1925; rpt. Catholic University of America Press, 1986.
  • Mantello, F. A. C., and Rigg., A. G. (Eds.), Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide. Catholic University of America Press, 1996.
  • Thompson, Sir Edward Maunde, An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography. Clarendon Press, 1912; rpt. Oxbow, 2002.
  • Iacona, Constance P., and George, Edward V. (Eds.), Columbus' First Voyage: Latin Selections from Peter Martyr's De Orbo Novo. Bolchazy Carducci, 2005.
  • Souter, Alexander. A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949; rpt. Sandpiper, 1996.
  • Knight, Stan. Historical Scripts From Classical Times to the Renaissance. New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1998.
  • Bischoff, Bernard Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Trans. D. Ó Cróinín and D. Ganz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • This course offers an introduction to Medieval Latin and is conducted in an undergraduate seminar format. We will have three main goals this semester: 1) to read medieval Latin with precision and understanding; 2) to appreciate how it functioned as a transmitter of ideas and culture; and 3) to understand better the linguistic development of Latin after the Classical period and the changes it underwent when it became a vehicle of international communication after the development of the vernaculars. The material covered in the course will span late antiquity to the early Renaissance. We will pay special attention to certain topics, such as women writers, the Latin love poem tradition, miracle stories, animal tales, and the Latin of popular sermons. The class also functions as an introduction to Latin paleography and we will devote one class each week to the study of medieval manuscripts, Latin paleography, and textual transmission.

    Since this is a seminar we will spend most of our time reading and discussing the texts. Our aim will be to translate the texts as accurately and idiomatically as possible, emphasizing the communicative nature of a translation rather than its strict grammatical correctness. Each student will give two brief, informative reports during the course of the semester. One report will be about one of the special topics mentioned above; the other will be a précis of a scholarly article about a topic in our texts. Each student will also complete a term project. The project will be a commentary on an unedited Latin text designed to elucidate it for a first-time medieval Latin reader. There will be more details about the project later in the term.

    Due to the seminar nature of this course, students are expected to show a high degree of interest, commitment, and responsibility for doing the work assigned. They also have the right to expect these from the instructor. Students will be expected to attend every class and to come to class fully prepared. Each unexcused absence in excess of three (3) will lower the participation score by five percentage points. Austin College's Standards of Academic Integrity are assumed to apply to all work done in this course.

    The final grade is based on your participation in the course, bi-weekly quizzes, the two brief reports, two examinations (a midterm and a final), and the presentation and completion of a final project. The final project will be due at the time of the final examination. The percentage breakdown is as follows:



    bi-weekly quizzes


    brief reports


    (5% each)



    term project


    final exam


    (Thursday, May 11, 12:00-2:00)

    [Bob Cape's Homepage] [Classics Program Homepage]

    Robert W. Cape, Jr., Associate Professor of Classics
    Classical & Modern Languages
    900 N. Grand Avenue, Suite 61653
    Sherman, TX 75090-4440
    phone: (903) 813-2241  fax: (903) 813-2011


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