Qui simus


Multis ante nos saeculis in terram versi,
divinis ingeniis institutisque sanctissimis
nobiscum vivunt, cohabitant, colloquuntur.

F. Petrarcha, De remediis utriusque fortunae,
in ep. ad Actium Correggiensem.

I was lucky to study Latin in Salamanca during the school year 2010-2011, just when Roberto Carfagni was teaching there. I say I was lucky because I had been learning Latin in France since I was ten years old, but only that year in Salamanca (I was 21) gave me the opportunity to actually speak this language. That was awsome!
Of course, Roberto’s method required me to come back to the first lessons of grammar, but this little humiliation allowed me to learn kind of linguistic reflexes, just like kids do when they learn their mother tongue.
At the end of the year, I was able to have dialogues in Latin and to understand classical texts, even poems written by Horace! I also enjoyed a lot the atmosphere in the classroom. We were 11 students from 7 different countries.
I recommend this experience to anybody who would like to learn seriously (and have some fun with) Latin.
Benoît T., France.
Roberto Carfagni is an exceptional Latinist with a deep and living knowledge of the language and an equally profound passion for the literature. He is a skilled teacher and author and, in addition, an extremely conscientious administrator and organiser. I studied in his class at ‘Vivarium Novum’, in Montella, and I cannot recommend him and his teaching method highly enough. Roberto is a wonderful and generous person and, in my view, he would be an asset to any university department of Classics.
Dr George Corbett, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, England.
I had Roberto as a teacher for an entire academic year. High-standard, personally focused teaching in a student-friendly atmosphere. Roberto is not only the instructor of Latin, but a mediator of classical and Renaissance culture. His exceptionally good command of the Latin language enables him to teach very effectively, especially by creating an environment in which the student immediately starts to use the idioms and vocabulary.
Péter Bara, Hungary.
After having spent a few months in vain, looking for a teacher who speaks Latin fluently and understands the nuances, I contacted the Accademia ‘Vivarium Novum’, which made the connection between me and Roberto. He is an exceptional teacher, who knows how to clarify the most difficult grammatical points, while being attentive and cognizant of his pupil’s needs. Learning with him twice a week allows me to make rapid progress.
Prior to our Skype lessons, I used several textbooks to no avail, such as the ‘Wheelock’s Latin’, ‘Latin via Ovid’, etc., feeling frustrated on account of not being able to understand simple sentences without great mental efforts.
Not only did he enable me to think in Latin without the need to translate into my mother tongue, but he also rekindled my interest in classics by rendering it achievable and pleasurable. Roberto is not only a scholar of great erudition, but he is also generous, funny and extremely friendly. I highly recommend him to anybody who would like to learn and enjoy Latin. Words can’t express my gratitude!
Ori Liebermann, Israel.
I have been taking individual classes with Roberto on Skype for two and half months. The book we use is Hans Ørberg’s ‘Lingua Latina per se illustrata’.
My class lasts two hours and consists of three parts. Before a class I would read the assigned text first. The class starts by my asking him questions regarding the text, and then he would proceed to ask me questions, both to ensure that I have understood the text well enough and to help me practice speaking. In the end, we would check answers for exercise questions.
Roberto is adequate at both the Latin language and teaching it. He is able to conduct conversation freely in Latin. And being the editor of a number of readers of ancient texts, he is well-read in Latin literature. As a student of ancient history, I also appreciate his good knowledge in antiquity (and in the Medieval times as well), which allows us to have pleasant discussions on figures and events in Roman history sometimes (in Latin, of course). Roberto is also a patient and solid teacher. I am satisfied both with the formula of the class and his teaching style. Roberto has probably been teaching this book for a long time and is very familiar with it. If I do not understand a sentence either because of grammar or vocabulary, for example, he would rewrite the sentence with replaced words and grammatical patterns to make it more accessible. If I still don’t understand (which does happen occasionally), he would patiently rewrite it again. He is familiar enough with the text to refer me to similar grammatical patterns that appear somewhere else in the book.
I would recommend Roberto and Ørberg’s book to any learner of the language. It is a beautiful language and learning it with Roberto is fun and rewarding at the same time.
Zhengyuan Zhang, China.
Roberto is not only a true expert of Latin and the classical tradition, but also a rare master of pedagogy; he was not only able to identify the precise gaps in my knowledge of Latin grammar and syntax, but also to expertly and quickly help me correct them, even generously crafting homework exercises for areas in which I specifically struggled but for which no exercises yet exist.
From discussing Cicero and ancient philosophy, to answering questions about Latin phraseology, I could not be more grateful for his vast knowledge of the classical Greek and Roman tradition and especially for his genuine fluency in the Latin language itself. Until experiencing this level of Latinity in the Academia ‘Vivarium Novum’ and with Roberto, I did not realize what an indescribably qualitative difference there is in studying Latin language and literature from, as it were, a native speaker: I learned much, much more Latin from Roberto in a few hours than I have previously from my best university teachers over several months, and only wish that I could exchange my two years of (quite good, by normal standards) undergraduate Latin for just a few weeks with Roberto.
Roberto is a scrupulous and generous teacher: he always returned my corrected essays and homework within a day or two, he often allowed our classes to go over the allotted time, and I was always invited to ask him any questions via email between classes, to which he was quick to respond. Furthermore Roberto is a delightful person with a wonderful sense of humor and a very kind heart.
Guinevere Rallens, USA.
I have studied Latin on my own with Ørberg’s method for a number of years, being able to read several authors by the end of ‘Roma aeterna’ (Caesar, Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, Salustius…) apart from the adapted editions provided by the method itself. I first had the chance to speak Latin a couple of years ago in the annual meeting that ‘Cultura Clásica’ holds in Madrid. After that I searched the web for samples of “spoken Latin” and luckily enough those were the key words that discovered me the wonderful way of Roberto’s teachings. His videos really opened up my mind and the same Ovid’s texts previously done on my own were incredibly more beautiful and its reading much more satisfying when so lively explained.
I had the great luck of meeting him personally a few months later in the same Madrid Latin meeting and convinced him to teach me on a regular basis. Since then I have seen Cicero coming back to life defending poor Roscius against the greedy and powerful Roman politicians, or discussing with friends Epicurus’ concepts of pleasure and virtue while resting in his villa.
Roberto’s method is incredibly efficient, and, what is even more incredible, thanks to his writing assignments I am now able to express myself in a decent written Latin, which again helps my reading fluency and enjoyment of ancient authors, whose selection is free for the student according to Roberto’s well known open mind and characteristic generosity.
Guillermo Palao, Spain.
I came across Roberto’s book ‘Nova Exercitia Latina I’ (2015) when I was looking for a good exercise textbook for Hans Ørberg’s ‘Lingua Latina per se illustrata’. I wrote to Roberto asking if he would be happy to give me Latin tutorials over Skype. Now it has been about half a year since I started learning Latin with him and I am very grateful that I googled his name to find out who the writer was!
Roberto is very erudite and meticulous when it comes to teaching Latin. From the chapters of ‘Familia Romana’ to discussion of Renaissance philosophy, the quality of his classes has always been stellar.
At the same time, he is very happy to change the style and content of the classes to suit the student’s needs. He has more than once accommodated my PhD deadlines when scheduling classes with much patience. He has also helped me find an ancient Greek teacher, researched extensively for books to recommend to me, and has even out of his own pocket paid for shipment costs of books to England! No one who will be a student of Roberto will regret his or her decision. He is an extraordinary teacher and a very generous man, and I plan to continue having tutorials with him in the foreseeable future.
Anya R. Sharma, India.
After learning Latin on my own for several years, I was very discouraged at my lack of progress, and frustrated by my efforts to learn a language in isolation. I needed a mentor who could interact and give me feedback in the language. I met Roberto on an Øerberg forum, and since I have been taking lessons via Skype with him, I am finally gaining an understanding of Latin as Latin, and progressing at a rate commensurate with the time and effort I am putting into my studies.
As lessons are conducted in Latin, I am required to produce Latin orally, and this has significantly accelerated my learning curve. But an unexpected benefit of being required to speak Latin has been a renewal of enjoyment in my learning process; it is challenging, gratifying and fun.
Roberto has exceptional teaching talent and an intuitive ability to pace and tailor lessons to my needs. I had previously studied through several texts and resources, so we are filling in the gaps of what I do not know or understand, without wasting time covering what I have already learned. I highly recommend Roberto to anyone wishing to learn Latin as the living language it truly is.
Julie Brennan, USA.
I met Roberto at a summer school in Ankeveen, Holland, where he taught us not only to speak, but also to better understand the beautiful Latin language. He is a very talented teacher, who instinctively knows what a student wants or needs, and immediately responds to those demands. Not only does he possess an endless knowledge about the Latin language, he also has a very pleasant way of teaching. I particularly enjoyed reading authors together!
Anouk Romeijnders, Holland.
What makes Roberto’s pedagogical approach so remarkable is that it is suited to the natural devices that everyone uses in order to acquire a language that is not his own. The Latin language is used as the sole medium throughout each class. In the tutorials that I had with Roberto we discussed corrections that he had made to my summaries of the various chapters of ‘Roma aeterna’. Responses and explanations were given for any difficulties that I had with the text which the class was based upon. Roberto also asked questions in order to test my comprehension of the text as well as to help me practise speaking Latin.
The classes were thoroughly enjoyable and Roberto would leave anyone who had tutorials with him bedazzled at his expertise both in the Latin language and in Latin pedagogy.
Fr. Michael Lavin, New Zealand.
I have been studying Latin for a couple of years on my own using Ørberg’s books and I have made some progress. However, when I started taking lessons from Roberto over internet I really began to understand Latin structure. Roberto leaves no stones unturned and makes sure that his student receives helps he needs. He doesn’t get tired from explaining difficult concepts again and again until his student grasps the idea. He is a natural educator – a very passionate one. Lectures proceed strictly in Latin which forces students to communicate in Latin and which speeds up understanding.
For those busy professional like myself, I’d recommend taking lectures twice a week. This ensures continuity and provides sufficient exposure.
Dr Vin Yovanovich, USA.
Roberto has qualities that nowadays are hard to find: he teaches Latin in Latin. But, even more than just teaching Latin, he teaches you useful things for your daily life. Enjoyable classes, rich vocabulary, European and humanistic culture, he has experience in different parts of the world, out-going; he is joyful and good-humored. You don’t only learn, but notice that you make progress pretty quickly. Latin becomes not an end in itself, but a precious instrument for reading literature, for investigations, for the possibility to discover treasures hidden to those who don’t have this key. There is no pedantry in the lessons, but simplicity and satisfaction for learning.
Fernando Arana, Mexico.
Greetings to Roberto! The truth is that I remember with a very grateful heart the Latin courses with Roberto. He taught us so well, even to the point of being able to understand and to speak Latin. The methodology convinced me as well. We were a good group of students, although many of us were tired of learning Latin for so many years, but in vain. Roberto was able to help all of us. Thank you!
Melchior Poisson, France.
I cannot say enough good things about Roberto Carfagni and his teaching. I began learning Latin a year and a half ago at the age of 40. I soon discovered ‘Lingua Latina per se illustrata’ and made it through the first 27 chapters on my own in about 6 months. Beyond that point it seemed to be getting too difficult and I shifted my studies to other materials for a while.
When I came across a video of Roberto teaching, all in Latin, over the internet, I knew I had found an incredible opportunity. First of all, the lessons are conducted completely in Latin, which not only speeds up the learning process but makes it genuinely fun; I look forward to every lesson just for the opportunity to speak the language.
Secondly, I had spent a lot of time reading and listening to the language but not much speaking and almost no writing, because these things are hard to do without quality feedback from a knowledgeable teacher. Roberto had me summarize, in writing, each chapter in my own words and then corrected my papers, which we would go over at the beginning of each lesson. I felt like this brought a deeper level of understanding, which made subsequent reading and speaking seem easier by comparison. I also feel that spending an hour speaking Latin with Roberto is worth countless hours of self study.
I progressed through the last 8 chapters of ‘Familia Romana’ in a little over 3 weeks under his instruction and, perhaps more importantly, gained confidence that I will be able to achieve a level of fluency that will allow me to teach my son effectively and to enjoy reading the great works of antiquity.
Brandon Goggans, USA.
In taking Latin lessons with Roberto, I experienced the effectiveness of the inductive-contextual method.
Not only does Roberto follow Ørberg’s method in a pleasant way, and with a deep and refined knowledge of the structure of Latin and of the art of teaching; he offers the benefit of his company and guidance. Roberto’s great culture and love for the immortal classical literature mean that he’s quite aware that this beautiful language must be used as a vehicle, so to say, to explore the depths of world literature.
One begins to realize how effective Ørberg’s method is when he begins to put together short sentences, which then gradually evolve into more and more complex and clear everyday thoughts: the result of this is a growing understanding of classical texts.
As far as Roberto’s teaching method is concerned, I must say that I have met a person who, in addition to possessing the natural gifts of a teacher, is always friendly, helpful and concerned about students’ progress. Because of his familiarity with Latin – a language in which he’s as versed as in his own mother tongue (what an extraordinary thing to say!) – and his experience in teaching by Ørberg’s method, Roberto knows very well what to focus on in order to elicit progress from students, and also how to accommodate to every single student’s learning rhythm.
In conclusion, Roberto is endowed with all the abilities which are required in a teacher who wants to effectively teach Latin – in Latin.
Santiago Bravo Villarroel, Chile.
During the past few months, I have had the great pleasure of studying Latin with Roberto over Skype. In our classes we have used Hans Ørberg’s ‘Lingua Latina per se illustrata’ and associated books, speaking, hearing, reading and writing Latin as though it were a living language. The improvement in my command of Latin cannot be exaggerated. I can now read authors from almost two thousand years of history, and most importantly, do so with pleasure and understanding. This is all down to Roberto’s excellent teaching.
I cannot recommend nor thank Roberto enough, and I am confident that any potential student will find him kind, patient, funny, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Latin language and literature.
Samuel J. Kennerley, England.