Latin texts with macrons

In Latin, vowels are either long or short.  A long vowel is prolonged in pronunciation, making it about twice as long as a short one.
Legentibus is singular in that  all our texts mark the length of vowels: A macron (¯), i.e. a horizontal line written above a vowel, indicates that the vowel is long, while the absence of one indicates that it is short.

Does vowel quantity matter in Latin?

Yes. Knowing the quantity or length of a vowel will help you:
  • distinguish words from one another
  • know where words are accentuated
  • allow you to read prose and poetry with more ease

The length of a vowel can change the meaning of a word or a sentence and also indicate where the word is accentuated, e.g. pārēre ("to obey") and parere ("to produce, beget"). The macrons help distinguish these two words, and also show where they are accentuated:
In the first word, the accent falls on the first e, parére but in the second word, it falls on the a, párere. This is because the accent goes on the second last syllable if it is long, but if that syllable is short, it goes on the preceding syllable.
Latin prose and poetry of the classical period has an innate rhythm that arises from the interplay between short and long syllables. When pronounced with care, the rhythm of the laguage comes alive.

Learn correct pronunciation from the start

It's hard to break habits, so make sure to learn the correct vowel quantity and accentuation of words from the start. Much Latin audio online (even from large publishers!) contains many errors of both quantity and of accentuation.

The macrons and the careful pronunciation on Legentibus make sure that you develop good habits regarding Latin pronunciation.

What about ecclesiastical pronunciation?

There is indeed a great difference between ecclesiastical pronunciation, the traditional pronunciation of the Catholic Church, and the so-called Restored Classical Pronunciation, reconstructed by scholars to emulate the pronunciation of the classical Roman period.

In ecclesiastical pronunciation, long vowels of unaccentuated syllables are usually pronounced as short. This is completly fine. But if you want to read poetry and enjoy the rhythmic nature of classical prose, knowing the vowel quantity is essential.

Here is a selection of Latin texts with macrons (on Legentibus)

  • Cicero's Orations against Catiline (Orationes In Catilinam)
  • Tacitus' Agricola
  • Sebastianus Castellio's Neo-Latin translation of the Gospel of Luke 
  • Pliny's Letters (Epistulae) 
  • Caesar's Gallic War (De bello Gallico, liber I)
  • Seneca's Letters (Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium)
  • Sanford and Scott's Fabulae ab urbe conditae
  • Ritchie's Fabulae Faciles
  • Epitome Historiae Sacrae
  • Familia Romana
  • And many, many more

All Latin texts come with macrons and synchronized Latin audio!

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