Why We’re Reading Harry Potter In Latin

When one of us recently started a distance learning course in Classical Civilisation (as you do in an international lock-down), our newly assigned tutor remarked that the Classics currently seem to be enjoying a revival. And so we wondered to what extent Harry Potter, a book that reflects J.K. Rowling’s interest in the Classical world, contributed to this. After all, we’re a generation that has grown up crying “Wingardium Leviosa!” and “Expelliarmus!” whilst enthusiastically waving imaginary wands at one another.

Without even realising it, we’ve all been learning a little Latin!

We are both enthusiastic Latin learners (and very much enjoy geeking out over the Latin spells in Harry Potter!) so we were thrilled when we discovered that J.K. Rowling had the first two Harry Potter books published entirely in Latin!

Harrius Potter

These books are an excellent way to pick up some extra Latin as you can easily read some well known passages alongside your favourite battered copy.

And Harry Potter isn’t the only well known story to be published in Latin in recent times – J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit has also been translated into this ancient language.

Hobbitus Ille

So, why bother translating and reading recent stories into Latin? Well, imagine if the Harry Potter spells were in English… It would probably take some of the magic away, wouldn’t it? So, by translating and reading the whole story into Latin, it gives it that little extra piece of magic, (Not to mention you feel pretty awesome reading in a different language in front of all your friends)!

Maybe we’ll try Harry Potter in Ancient Greek next…

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