For decades now, many have criticised elite private schools around the globe for teaching Latin, a dead language spoken by ancient peoples, kept alive ‘just so wealthy people can sound fancy’.
This narrative separates the study of Latin from other ‘practical’ subjects such as commerce, information technology, and learning any language actual people speak.
But in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Take second year University of Sydney student Thomas Hardstone. Thomas has saved a life this week using nothing more than his rudimentary grasp of Latin grammar. Hardstone was on his way to a linguistics tutorial when he happened upon a fellow student, John Reed, caught in a standoff with an armed assailant.
“He was waving a gun in this guy’s face and screaming ‘fucking tell me what the accusative for dominus is you little punk’,” said Hardstone. “I just had to step in.”
Calmly heading off the assailant, Hardstone provided the correct answer — “dominum” — and defused what could have been a tragic situation.
“I’m just so glad that someone with such a rich knowledge of Latin happened to be walking by,” a grateful Reed told The Garter. “It’s a dead language, and I would have joined it if not for Thomas.”
When asked where his knowledge of Latin comes from, Hardstone was cagey. “I was enrolled in beginners Latin in my first semester of university, but I never finished the course. The number of cocky people making ‘dead language’ jokes was too much.”