Subject: Foedus Latinum
Pater Foster’s announcement a couple of years ago, heralding the death
of Latin as a spoken living language within the Church – a place that
had nurtured the language and kept it alive for millennia after the
fall of the Roman Empire – galvanised me – it was one of the things
that motivated me to set up Latinum. An extinct language is a great
loss to the world – millions are spend protecting iconic species, such
as the white rhino – but the loss of a language – as a living organism
– especially such a noble and valuable language as Latin, would be a
terrible loss indeed. Latinum, and your participation in using the
Latinum course, puts you in a very special place – as a language
eco-warrior, to use a current expression favoured by the British Press.
Now let us take this analogy a step further – an organism needs a
habitat, an ecosystem. Languages, as organisms, no less so than ones of
flesh and blood. If you persevere with the Latinum course, the time
will come when, perhaps somewhat to your astonishment – you will be
able to open your mouth, and speak in Latin – maybe not so well, but
certainly well enough to have managed to get along quite well in the
ancient Roman Empire. This ability to speak will be accompanied by a
new-found reading fluency – making reading Latin into a joy, and not a
chore. You’ll stand a chance of getting through the entire corpus of
Roman literature in your lifetime, and have time over to read works of
mediaeval and Renaissance Latin literature to boot – something you’d
not have a hope of being able to do without advanced fluency.
But, I am straying from my point – the need for a habitat. When you
find you are able to speak, human nature will kick in, and you’ll want
to find others to speak with. This is all very well if you’re in
London. What if you’re in Peking, or Singapore, or one of the cities in
Australia where there are large concentrations of users of the Latinum
course? How will you find others to get together with to share a beer
with and a few stumbling words of Latin?
I have set up a series of websites, under the banner of Foedus Latinum.
The Foedus Latinum – of ‘Latin League’ – was the original loose group
of city states on the plain of latinum, that eventually lead to the
Roman State. The name also translates as “Alliance Latine”, and indeed,
In doing this, I was directly inspired by the history of the Alliance
Francaise, which nowadays provides a habitat for French in cities
across the globe. Each branch of the A F is independent, and functions
like a little club. The organisation took decades to establish, groups
in each city growing slowly from very humble, and small beginnings. One
has to start somewhere.
There are not enough Latin speakers to set up such a robust
organisation – but what is needed – if Latin is to survive to the end
of this Century and beyond – is something similar – a place where you
can find others living near to you, who are interested in Latin, others
who are using the Latinum lessons, and who will, after two to three
years, be able to speak the language, and who will, as is only natural,
want to seek out others to try to speak it with.
The Foedus Latinum is a series of websites, each of them a social
website, where you can sign in, and make a small homepage. The sites
are in a variety of languages – so that you can find people in your
area, and contact them in your own language. MY expectation is that it
will take about ten years to populate the Foedus Latinum sites. At
present, if you look at the site for your area of the world, it will
probably still be empty. Do join. If there is no sub-group for your
city or country in the site, then feel free to make one. I have set up
a few in each group, so that you can see what is intended.
My hope is that, in the long term, some of these online clusters will
meet off-line, and form groups like the small (and growing) group
organised by Keith Rogers, that meets in London once a month – and
other groups like it worldwide. There are already some active groups in
existence, under the banner of the Circulus Latinus, so if you are in a
city where one of the few active Circulus Latinus groups is meeting,
you could pop along to one of those – however, these groups, at
present, are as rare as hen’s teeth, and have not been growing or
spreading. The Foedus Latinum is not intended to overtake the existing
structure – but to supplement it – using social networking sites to
create a seeding environment, that will help strengthen the existing
groups, and provide, in the very long term, a seeding ground for new
So, if you’re in Iran, or the Gulf States, or somewhere in the Orient,
or indeed, anywhere in the world, take a look at the main Foedus
Latinum webpage – and find you own country’s group, and sign in. If you
do this, you’ll be doing your bit to help create an environment, a
habitat, for Latin once again to live in. Latin is an endangered
species – there is no doubt about this – but the cause is by no means
The goal here, is to remove it from the endangered list.
So, apart from making the effort, and exhorting you to study regularly,
I also exhort you to click on the link to the Foedus Latinum page on
the main Latinum webpage , on the sidebar – and sign in to the Foedus.
You can find the link to the Foedus Latinum homepage on Latinum’s main page on the sidebar.