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The "SPQR" App: A Review

PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:33 pm
by Lucius Livius Seneca
L. Livius v. c. omnibus sociis sal.

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Fig. 1. The SPQR logo.

In our electronic age there are countless digital tools being developed to help with nearly every discipline imaginable. Latin is no exception. Today I thought I might offer the Collegium an introduction to one of my favourite "apps" for working on Latin at home or on the go.

The app is fittingly called SPQR, and is one of a plethora of Classical applications developed by a company called Romans Go Home! The app has a suite of features which will be of interest to any Latinist, be they a novice student or a master linguist:

  1. Dictionary: The flagship feature of SPQR is its dictionary. Not only does the app supply you with a complete, searchable version of Lewis & Short's Latin Dictionary (the very one I'm using for the College's "Verbum Hebdomale" series), but it also includes a word parser based on William Whitaker's Words, allowing you to input any Latin word and be provided with the full details of its grammatical form (case, number, tense, person, etc., etc.). The dictionary also includes a reverse English-Latin word search which, though useful, will nevertheless often provide obscure vocabulary choices.
  2. Primary Texts: The app also includes a library of Latin texts for your reading pleasure. Every major author is included: Vergil, Caesar, Cicero, Martial, Horace, etc. (including a healthy dose of Patristic authors as well, e.g., Augustine, Jerome, etc.). Many of these texts include an English translation in addition to the original Latin. The texts are also cross-referenced with the dictionary, so that you can simply click on a word within the text to check its grammatical form and lexical meaning.
  3. References: The app also provides you with a complete copy of the inimitable Allen & Grenough's New Latin Grammar, Gibbon's monumental (though dated) Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, and a host of smaller articles, photos, and quotes concerning various things Roman.
  4. Learning Tools: The final major feature of SPQR is its suite of learning tools, which includes quizzes, flash cards, etc., to help anyone improve their Latinity. Sets of flashcards can also be automatically generated from the app's built-in library if you wish to focus on vocabulary from a particular text. There are also teacher's settings to let you produce electronic testing material for your students while controlling which resources they are able to access.
The app is available on both Apple and Android devices for the modest sum of $5.99-$6.99 depending on the platform you choose. Given the vast number of Loeb editions, dictionaries, and grammars you would need to purchase to rival this collection of classic texts, it is a small price to pay for the incredibly broad and accessible Latin tool-set with which it supplies you. I make regular use of this app in my own labours and highly recommend it to anyone in need of a convenient electronic Latin reference.

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Fig. 2. SPQR's built-in copy of Lewis & Short's Latin Dictionary.

Valete.