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Hans Henning Ørberg (1920–2010) is the author of Lingua Latina per se Illustrata, a widely used method for learning Latin using the natural approach.

From 1953 to 1961 he worked in the Naturmetodens Sproginstitut, an institute where the languages are taught according to the "natural method" of learning. While there he created a new course in Latin: Lingua Latina Secundum Naturae Rationem Explicata published in 1955. The method has been revised a few times, including in 1983 and 1991, the title now changed to Lingua Latina per se illustrata. In his retirement, he directed the Domus Latina publishing house and gave lectures in Europe and the United States on the natural method.

Professor Ørberg with Carlos Martínez Aguirre (Almuñecar 2005)

This Ørberg's method, based on understanding from the context, has proved efficient both for self-tuition and class teaching. An important factor is the satisfaction experienced by students when they discover that they can actually read and understand Latin immediately without parsing each sentence. Such direct understanding gives the students self-confidence and develops their faculties of observation and reasoning, faculties that will be greatly needed as the sentences grow more complex. Reading in this way, they move on step by step towards the ultimate object of Latin teaching: the reading of Latin literature in Latin with real understanding and appreciation.

Lingua Latina per se Illustrata provides a Latin text that students can read and understand immediately without any need for translation. In this text every sentence is intelligible per se because the meaning or function of all new words and forms is made clear by the context or by illustrations or marginal notes. This demands a carefully graded text, but to promote learning the content must stimulate interest and make it easy for the reader to visualize the scenes described. To meet these demands the chapters of Part I form an eventful and entertaining narrative, which captivates students so that they look forward to reading the continuation of the story. The reading of this Latin novel also serves as an introduction to the life and culture of ancient Rome.

Part I, Familia Romana, covers the essentials of Latin grammar and a basic vocabulary of some 1500 words. The 35 chapters form a sequence of events in the life of a Roman family in the 2nd century ad. Each chapter is divided into 3 or 4 lessons and consists of several text pages followed by a grammar section, Gram­matica Latina, and three exercises, Pensa. At the end of the book there is a survey of inflections, a Roman calendar, and a word index, Index vocabulorum.

In Part II, Roma Aeterna, the subject is Roman history. A description of the city of Rome is followed by a prose version of Vergil’s Aeneid I-IV, with some important passages in the original, and Livy’s Book I supplemented with extracts from Ovid. At first Livy’s prose is gently adapted, but the main part of the book contains unadapted texts by Livy, Aulus Gellius, Nepos, Sallust, Cicero, and Horace.