A Review of Latinitium’s New Edition of H.C. Nutting’s Roman Novel Ad Alpēs. 1


In 1928, H.C. Nutting wrote a Roman novel called Ad Alpēs, the story of a Roman family traveling from Ephesus to the Alps, stopping at Rome along the way. While they make their journey, various characters in the novel tell stories from history and mythology as well as revealing aspects of Roman culture through their everyday interactions. The stories come from both classical Latin sources and the Bible.
Recently, Latinitium, a website created by Daniel Petterson, in collaboration with Johan Winge released a new edition of this text to be read again ubiquitously in the Latin community. One can purchase a copy for just under twenty-five USD on Amazon. I have not fully completed reading the book, but I have completed enough of it to provide my thoughts on it as a resource for teaching, advancing one’s fluency, and pleasure reading in general.
Firstly, though I have already stated the price, the affordability of this text with the amount of text received cannot be overstated. For around twenty-five dollars, one can read two hundred pages of Latin in a consistent and well-flowing narrative. Also included in this book is a full glossary as well as vocabulary and grammatical footnotes. The book is not leveled or graded so the Latin remains constant throughout with respect to its ‘difficulty’ and the grammar is in no way sheltered.
This book is a wonderful resource for students at an intermediate-high to advanced level to use for extensive reading. The problem often with Latin is the lack of extensive reading available in the beginning levels of language learning. This book is by no means the complete solution but it is an effective text for reading a lot of Latin that is ‘good’ Latin, compelling, and fairly easily understandable. If one is looking for a text from which they would like to choose selections to read before tackling authorial Latin, I would consider Ad Alpēs ideal for such a task.
For increasing one’s own fluency, the value of this book cannot be overstated. The narrative is complete, interesting, ancient in nature, and thoroughly engaging. This book, for me, has been one of the few non-ancient sources which I did not want to put down while reading. I was indeed hooked fairly early on in wondering what would happen next and how Nutting would re-tell the narratives that have become eminently familiar to me throughout my career. The most important matter in any text, especially a Latin one, is that desire to continue to read. I think this book is a wonderful step for those learning in schools or on their own after going through a traditional grammatical syllabus or a natural acquisition method.
The quality of the text as put out by Latinitium is wonderful, with the printing clear and pleasant and all vowels ‘macronized’. The footnotes do not seem extraneous nor overly helpful (i.e. ‘giving the answer’). The Latin is entirely classical in style. I cannot recommend Ad Alpēs enough for any Latinist to have to complement their already bursting bookshelves.


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One thought on “A Review of Latinitium’s New Edition of H.C. Nutting’s Roman Novel Ad Alpēs.

  • Stephen Cole Farrand

    I want to thank Andrew Morehouse for this helpful and timely review (at least I think it’s timely–he has stolen my thunder for a blog post). _Ad Alpes_ is a delightful and compelling read because of its appealing characters and unifying narrative structure. It is a useful first read with intermediate Latin students, and lends itself to a variety of pedagogical approaches, including teaching in Latin (I have already tried this out with two tutorial students and find that it works well). I also think the quality of the Latinity is outstanding. It’s currently my bedtime reading.