Latin was the native language of ancient Rome and the surrounding area of Latium (now Lazio) in central Italy. As the official administrative language of the Roman empire, it was widely spoken around the Mediterranean and especially in Western Europe, where it survived the empire's breakup in the fifth century CE and long remained the primary language for education, government, and Christianity in Western Europe. Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, regional dialects of Latin developed into the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian), and English also owes a large portion of its vocabulary to Latin.
Although Latin today has no native speakers, knowledge of Latin opens the door to understanding the fascinating world of ancient Rome. Its rich literature includes the poetry of Vergil, Horace, and Ovid, plays by Terence and Seneca, the histories of Caesar, Livy, and Tacitus, and the oratory, letters, and philosophical dialogues of Cicero and Augustine. These and many other Latin authors have profoundly influenced the history and culture of Europe and the new world, including much of its political, legal, intellectual, religious, and scientific achievements and institutions we enjoy today.
UT students may pursue a major or minor in Latin, and courses in Latin count toward majors in Classical Languages, Classical Studies-Ancient History, and Classical Studies-Classical Archaeology. The Department of Classics offers all levels of Latin every semester (including summer sessions), from introductory (LAT 506/7) and intermediate (LAT 311/12) to advanced (LAT 323/65), covering a wide variety of authors every year. Students eager to jump-start Latin may take LAT 601C and then complete the intermediate level proficiency with LAT 311 and 312K. UT also offers graduate degrees in Classics (both MA and PhD) involving combined study of Latin and ancient Greek.