The Italian Institute of Classical Studies, born from the initiative of university professors and high school teachers, is directed toward high school and university students, doctoral students, and enthusiasts of Latin and Greek language and literature, with the aim of allowing students to approach the direct reading and immediate comprehension of classical texts.
Examining the results obtained by students who study according to the methods that are currently employed in schools and universities, it is easy to see that, contrary to the case of studying any other language, even the best of students, after years of studying the material, are unable to comprehend a text in the Latin or Greek language merely by reading it. Students are taught to translate Latin and Greek by means of the exasperated syntactic deconstruction of different sentences in the text, poring over dictionaries in search of the meaning of every single word in the hope that, in the end, the words might acquire meaning. Since the 2009 reform, aware of the limitations of current didactic methods regarding classical languages, the Italian Ministry of Education declared, regarding the methodologies employed by our Institute:
“An interesting alternative to the traditional study of normative grammar is offered by so-called ‘natural Latin’ – the nature-method -, which provides a concise way to learn the language, beginning precisely with texts. This allows one to avoid grammatical abstractness, made up of rules that must be learned mnemonically and that hold inevitable exceptions, in favor of those linguistic elements that are key for the comprehension of texts, while at the same time offering students a rigorous and solid method for the acquisition of competency in translation”.
Our Institute, taking inspiration from the great men of our time and of generations past, and founded on the tradition of the ancient humanistic schools, seeks to provide instruments for the direct comprehension of a text which, upon completion of studies, any student will be able to comprehend in depth solely by reading, without ever needing to consult a dictionary.
While we never forgo the teaching of grammar, which always makes up the fundamental structure of a language, it is always accompanied by usage and direct practice, through the use of an inductive-contextual method that explains grammatical rules through their use, rather than the use through its rule. For this reason, our lessons are conducted in Latin or Ancient Greek; from the very first meeting our students learn to use the language to communicate among themselves and with the professor. We do not learn to speak Latin or Greek in order to use these languages converse about this and that in a dead language as though it were a game, but as a fundamental instrument for the easy and immediate comprehension of the classics. The aims of the IICS are literary in nature.
Lessons are conducted in an environment characterized by joyful friendship; they are never just lectures, but always involve our students, stimulating their interest and participation. Some excursions and outside lessons accompany those held in the classroom.