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Student and tutor module reviews

Continuing classical Latin

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: A397
  • Level: 3
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Student reviews

If you are thinking about doing this course then stop thinking and just do it. It is hard work but very rewarding and easily the best course I have done so far.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

A considerable leap up from A297, A397 is a module well worth doing; particularly if you intend to go forward with post-graduate classical studies. The emphasis is on Latin poetry; but if you can grasp translating Book II of Virgil's Aeneid, prose translation will be something of a doddle. A great pity that A397 is nearing its end with no other third level Latin on the horizon, so get in there quickly and do it if you want to lift your Latin by more than several notches.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

This course is an absolutely essential follow-up to A297 if you want to be able to read the great Latin writers in the original.

The first half of the course, which concentrates on the Anthology and allows you to sample poetry and prose from a spread of writers from Catullus and Horace to Cicero and Tacitus, is most enjoyable. The concentration on Virgil in the second half makes for a bit of a slog, but I realise with hindsight that it has prepared me to face Latin poetry undaunted.

If I have a criticism of the course, it is that there is very little English-into-Latin. Writing Latin is an excellent way to learn grammatical constructions and vocabulary and more chance to craft elegant Latin prose would have been enjoyable and helpful.

I am concerned that A397 is soon to end: I think it would be a great shame if the beginners' and advanced courses were melded into one intermediate course, as has happened with classical Greek, where the literature is now covered only in translation.

Please, OU, if you are restructuring your Latin syllabus, keep some sort of advanced course that includes poetry as well as prose, in the original language.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

This course is more than a sequel to A297; together they provide a good foundation in Classical Latin, culminating in the study of a masterpiece of literature, the Aeneid. I found it essentially satisfying. My only criticism is that I would have preferred there to be one question in the final examination on the work of another author,at the expense of the literary criticism which sometimes seems to me to be far-fetched. But the course is first-rate - long may it continue!

Leslie Hocking

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

I loved this course. Yes ,it was hard work and I didn't do as well in the exam as I'd hoped, but: I've marked out the walls of Alexandria; Listened to Cicero in the Senate; Held my breath crossing from Tenedos with the Greeks and run through burning Troy with Aeneas.

Our tutor was terrific. She brought the readings to life at the tutorials.
I wouldn't have missed it for worlds.

Margaret Trudgill

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: December 2012

An enjoyable course - but involves a lot of work and a lot of memorising. This course is very different to Reading Classical Latin and if you found Reading Classical Latin difficult and did not do very well in the exam, I would think twice about Continuing Latin.

You are launched straight in to reading Latin poetry: poetry can be hard in English but is very hard in Latin as word order is all over the place. It is not like reading prose. I did well in my Reading Classical Latin exam and thought this would just be the next step up but it felt more like a giant leap.

The OU recommends that before you start the course that you look at certain parts of the grammar book that is used in the Reading Latin course but are not studied for that course - as they are needed for Continuing Latin but are not taught. This is very good advice - which I ignored and is probably why I struggled a bit at times - but it does seem strange that you have to do some work before the course to get up to speed when it is supposed to be a follow-on from the beginners' course.

The first part of the course is looking at grammar and also reading poetry and some prose. The second part of the course is reading Virgil's Aeneid. You basically need to translate the whole of Book II of the Aeneid from Latin into English - and this is hard. However, you can do this line by line with a translated copy beside you - it is not cheating but a recommended method - so it is not impossible but it is hard work. It seemed labouriously slow to start with but I did eventually pick up speed. You also need to read three other Books from the Aeneid in English.

The hard part is in the exam: you are given a passage in Latin from Book II and need to not only identify it but comment on it in English plus translate a few lines. Basically, for me to do this, I had to more or less try to memorise Book II in Latin. Then you are given a section from one of the three Books you have read in English but this time it is Latin and you have to translate it into English. Yes, they do give you some vocabulary to help you but you need to know the three Books in English really well in order to work out what the Latin is about!

Apart from translating and grammar the other aspect of the course is literary analysis of Latin texts. This is the part of the course that I did not feel was taught very well and it is quite hard to do. I did get help from my tutor but I think it could be taught better as it counts for quite a lot in the exam.

Having said all of this, if, like me, you really love Latin and are prepared for a challenge then this course is good. I really enjoyed reading the Aeneid and translating Book II - I had an immense feeling of achievement when I accomplished this! The down side of the course is that I feel there is a great amount to memorise for a 30 credit course exam. It might just be me and how I tackle exams but I felt I had to memorise a lot in order to do well in the exam. The exam seemed quite tough but I actually did much better than I thought I had and ended up with a good mark in the end.

My advice to anyone doing the course would be to start reading the Aeneid in English as soon as possible - do not wait until you get to that bit of the course as you really need to read it several times. Also, follow the OU's advice and do the bit of grammar that is not covered in the course before the course begins. Good luck!

Jane Elizabeth Bernhardt

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: September 2012

I enjoyed this course but anyone thinking of doing it should be aware that it is a very different course than Reading classical Latin (A297).
A397 is not only a much harder course, it is also predominantly poetry based which is something I was not aware of when I signed up.
However, even though my result was not as good as for A297 (in which I received a distinction) I still enjoyed the course and reading Virgil's Aeneid was a joy.

Scott Porter

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: September 2011

This was an enjoyable course, though it is a big step up from the 2nd Level Latin course. You will need to do some additional prep in between the courses.

I found there was slightly too much Virgil for my liking. Virgil is good but it would have been better to have more variety as there is so much good Latin literature.

The workload is heavy for a 30-credit course. I would have said it's not far off some of the 60-credit courses I've done. However, it's not too hard to get a Level 3 distinction on this course if you stick at it.

So, if you do like Latin, don't hesitate to sign up for this course.

Mark Anthony Western

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: January 2011

This course was very different from A297: Reading Classical Latin and the bulk of the course was to read The Aeneid in Latin and in English. I found that very little support or direction was given for this task even though the bulk of the exam was based on understanding this poem (spanning several books) enough to be able to write literary criticism of it.

The course had no list of vocabulary to learn (other than saying every word in the book needed to be known) and it introduced hardly any new grammatical concepts so it really was not a continuation of A297, but essentially a Latin literature course based heavily on the literary criticism of one epic poem.

Another problem was that the OU has reduced the number of venues it uses as examination centres so you may have to travel some distance to sit the exam. Unless you are an ardent fan of Latin literature, I would avoid this course as it very nearly ruined my love of the Latin language.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: January 2011

Faculty response

A397 is intended as a course that consolidates and expands grammatical knowledge and leads to the reading and appreciation of unadapted original Latin texts. The Aeneid is read in conjunction with a supporting and comprehensive commentary on the poem. We hope that the course will introduce students to the pleasures and riches of reading Latin literature in a supportive and structured way.

A very interesting and enjoyable course. The course books were relevant and helpful and the tutor was very quick at answering queries. The main hint I would give is start learning your grammar early - there is a lot of it and you do need to know it to get a good grade.

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: December 2009

The course is very challenging if you have not studied Latin at school (as it seemed many of the students had but not me). It was twice as much work as other 30-point courses if you want to get a good result. Having said that it was immensely satisfying to get through it and it has helped with learning Spanish.

Course starting: February 2007

Review posted: July 2008

This is an enjoyable course and the tutor was out of the usual keen, supportive OU mould. Virgil is a delight to read and translate and the translation pieces in the TMAs were varied and interesting. I would have preferred a piece of English to Latin translation in the exam rather than an essay in English on the background to the Aeneid. The latter, although mythological in nature, is more akin to Roman History than to Latin, which warrants 100% attention in its own right.

I am planning to read the classics for pleasure until I drop.

David Christopher Watson

Course starting: February 2007

Review posted: May 2008

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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