Latin is the language of the ancient Roman world and all that it produced. With its wide geographic reach in the Roman empire and lasting legacy in the political, religious and cultural traditions of Europe and beyond, Latin has remained a fixture of world languages and cultures for more than two millennia. Latin is the basis for modern Romance languages spoken by nearly a billion people across the world and has influenced the history of English considerably. Language and ideas inherited from Latin continue to shape how we see the world and interact with one another in many areas of society, such as politics, law, religion and science.
Study of Latin provides students direct access to a rich literary and cultural tradition that includes the poetry of Vergil and Ovid, the comic plays of Terence and Plautus, and philosophical, rhetorical and historical works by figures like Cicero, Seneca and Tacitus. Latin was the language of administration and law for a vast space of habitation in the western portion of the Roman Empire and later in the Christian world. In intellectual life, Latin framed debate over church teaching and drove medieval scholarly culture, and along with the inheritance of classical culture generally, fueled the momentous transformations of the European Renaissance.