Daniel’s library

Here you’ll find my favourite Latin-relat­ed books, every­thing from crit­i­cal edi­tions, books on styl­is­tics, to comics.

For more resources, see also: Best books for learn­ing Latin.

Olaus Mag­nus, His­to­ria de Gen­tibus Septentrionalibus

His­to­ria de Gen­tibus Septen­tri­on­al­ibus was a best-sell­er in the 16th cen­tu­ry across Europe, even though it treats only Scan­di­navia. I love this book because each chap­ter is self-con­tain­ing, so you can pick a ran­dom chap­ter and read two pages with­out continuing.

The sub­ject mat­ter is immense: you can read about fish­ing and hunt­ing, or the gods of Norse mythol­o­gy, or about snow­ball fight­ing rules in Scandinavia.

Last sum­mer, in a small town, I bought this beau­ti­ful fac­sim­i­le of the orig­i­nal first edi­tion from 1555. They had five Latin books, and this book was among them!


Ovid, Hero­ides

Hero­ides are ver­si­fied let­ters that Ovid imag­ines writ­ten by famous women of antiq­ui­ty, e.g., Pene­lope writes to Ulysses. My favorite one is the one Ari­adne writes to The­seus after being desert­ed by him on the island of Nax­os. It always moves me almost to tears.

I found this beau­ti­ful­ly bound edi­tion in used books store in Nice, France, a few years ago. It is a bilin­gual Latin-French edi­tion, which allows me to prac­tice my French while read­ing Ovid.

H.C. Nut­ting, Ad Alpes

It’s no secret that we re-pub­lished Ad Alpes in 2016 and thus large­ly res­ur­rect­ing it. Nev­er­the­less, I read (or rather) lis­ten to it almost dai­ly. I am amazed by how Nut­ting has so ele­gant­ly woven togeth­er pas­sages from many Roman authors into his own narrative.

Before we pub­lished a new edi­tion, it was an extreme­ly rare book, which my stu­dents com­plained about when I told them to get it. Only three were able to find it. The pho­to above shows our new edi­tion of Ad Alpes.


C. Meiss­ner, Latin Phrase Book

I remem­ber the day this book arrived in the mail: I was so excit­ed to have a trea­sure trove of attest­ed Latin expres­sions to mem­o­rize like a checklist.

Count­less of the expres­sions I learned those first few weeks are still etched into my mind, and I use them every day when I speak Latin. 

Some­times, when I come across the source of the expres­sion, I feel this strange sense of déjavu—I know the expres­sion but haven’t read the pas­sage whence it’s sourced before!

You can get the Latin-Eng­lish ver­sion here.

Burkhard & Shauer, Lehrbuch der lateinis­chen Syn­tax und Semantik

This is the new ver­sion of Menge’s clas­sic Repeti­to­ri­um der Lateinis­chen Syn­tax und Stilis­tik. It (and the orig­i­nal) is a large part of why I decid­ed to learn Ger­man. This book is for those who want to learn the fin­er points of clas­si­cal Latin style and usage. I know many pre­fer Menge’s orig­i­nal, but I think the lay­out of this edi­tion makes it much more suit­able for a quick con­sul­ta­tion. I usu­al­ly com­pare with Menge’s orig­i­nal to see if there are any great differences.

I just love to read this book: open a ran­dom page and just dis­cov­er new things every time.

You can get this enor­mous book here.


Eras­mus of Rot­ter­dam, Col­lo­quia Familiaria

My schol­ar­ly research focus­es on the Latin school dia­logues of the 16th cen­tu­ry; this has allowed me the plea­sure of read­ing through the entire genre with thou­sands of dia­logues. Among these, Eras­mus’ dia­logues are the most fun, by far.

These are dia­logues but large­ly very advanced in their syn­tax and lex­i­con. They are not so much school dia­logues, as they are satir­i­cal dia­logues in the spir­it of Lucian’s dialogues.

Eras­mus dis­cuss­es and mocks con­tem­po­rary ideas and insti­tu­tions, which earned the book a place on the Vat­i­can’s Index Libro­rum Pro­hibito­rum.

P. Ter­en­ti Afri: Comoe­di­ae
Robert Kauer and W. M. Lind­say (eds).

You can rarely get an author’s com­plete works in small vol­ume, but with Ter­ence, alas, that is pos­si­ble: he only wrote six comedies.

I found this edi­tion from Oxford Clas­si­cal Texts in a used books store in Upp­sala, Swe­den, ten years ago and instant­ly bought it.

I’ve read and re-read these six come­dies count­less times and inter­nal­ized much of the vocab­u­lary and phrase­ol­o­gy of Ter­ence. They’re fun and give an insight into the mid of the Roman peo­ple and their sense of humor.

Plau­tus: Mostel­lar­ia, Frank R. Mer­rill (ed.)

When I want to have a laugh while still read­ing Latin, Plau­tus is my go-to author. His come­dies are replete with sil­ly, unpol­ished humor, which stands in stark con­trast to the com­mon idea of Roman lit­er­a­ture as seri­ous and all but cut from white mar­ble. Mostel­lar­ia is just one of many of my favorite Plau­tus plays, but it makes me laugh every time: The way Plau­tus cre­ates sil­ly char­ac­ters mor­ti­fied by a haunt­ed house is just price­less. Well worth a dozen readings.

I got this edi­tion for a course I was teach­ing sev­er­al years ago and real­ly liked the com­men­tary: Plau­tus must be read with a good com­men­tary; oth­er­wise, you’ll miss so many nuances and obscure elegancies :).

Cicero, De Senec­tute (ed. Huxley)

I got this edi­tion many years ago from my first Latin teacher, Pro­fes­sor Hans Aili. It’s a clas­sic school edi­tion and thus tiny and portable.

This is my favorite work by Cicero: he wrote it as a con­so­la­tion to him­self in old age, but it’s not a trea­tise. Instead, he cre­ates a fic­ti­tious dia­logue where he has Cato the Elder talk­ing about the nature of old age, the bur­dens, the plea­sures, and how to cope with it.

While Cicero’s ora­tions are tied to con­tem­po­rary events, De Senec­tute is time­less. It always gets me think­ing about the pass­ing of time and how we think about grow­ing old.

Astérix et Obélix (in Latin)

I have been a ded­i­cat­ed fan of Astérix and Obélix—especially Obélix—since I was a young boy. The amount of eru­dite ref­er­ences that I dis­cov­er every time I read them always makes me laugh.

The Latin trans­la­tions are fun, quirky and very suit­able for the sub­ject. The Latin itself does not strive to be hyper clas­si­cal, but instead is rather eclec­tic and charming.