Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Classical Studies

Thesis Advisor

Anita Simpkins

Committee Professor

Steven Dilday


The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate that the study of the Aeneid by rhetorical Latin students pursuing a classical Christian education (CCE) both enlightens and enlivens the student. It begins by asserting that Latin has been a particularly important conduit of culture and education since classical antiquity. In the modern era, its study has been largely neglected in preference for the study of modern spoken languages and labeled “dead.” To fulfill the purpose of Latin study within a CCE an appropriate teleios must be identified for Latin students that aligns with the purpose of CCE, namely fluency.

This paper relies on a review of the literature about the use and study of the Latin language in education from ancient to modern times, highlighting the critical knowledge and skills that are gained by the student in the study of Latin. The Aeneid has been used since it was written by Vergil in the first century before Christ in education. This paper shows that the ancient epic can continue to be influential and meaningful because of the history and complex beauty of its Latin poetry. A serious examination of the work requires that it be read in the original Latin, which the rhetorical CCE student can be trained to do. A significant portion of the poem’s beauty (e.g., meter, rhythm, connotation) is often lost in translation. The CCE student is trained to search out and appreciate beauty, and so is best served by reading the original.

The author notes that through the acquisition of Latin fluency to read and understand the original poetic language in the Aeneid and through dialectic discussion of its ideas within the context of a biblical worldview, the student can grow in character and wisdom. The growth in character that reading the Aeneid in the original Latin provides comes from two sources. First, the diligence of struggling with a complex task over many years to the point of mastery will enliven a student and prepare him well for many domains of learning. Second, the student’s character is honed through seeking answers to normative questions about the poem, its meaning, and its historical context. Through the dialectic tension between the pagan poem and the Christian worldview much mental and spiritual growth can be gained by the student.

Though Latin has fallen into disuse as the language of education, those who seek to become fluent in it to read and enjoy Vergil’s Aeneid will be rewarded not just with beautiful ideas that a decent translation can capture, but a deep experience with the beauty and complexity of those ideas. The CCE student who nurtures Latin fluency is rewarded with intellectual ability, a strong understanding of history, and a respect for human nature distilled through one of the world’s most enduring and beautiful poems.

Key Words: Latin, Vergil, Aeneid, fluency, classical Christian education, character