iPad App Review: SPQR

Way back in high school I took four years of Latin. I know, I know – the common wisdom now is ‘why learn a dead language’ unless you are going into medicine? Yet Latin taught me more than a single language – it is the basis of many of the modern languages, and has helped me learn other languages more quickly through the years. So when I saw a full-featured Latin app, I simply HAD to check it out!

The Hype:
SPQR is the ultimate app for Latin lovers, Latin teachers and Latin students who want to immerse themselves in the language, presenting dozens of texts in Latin and English, a comprehensive and searchable Latin dictionary, a grammar tester, numeral converter, quotes and phrases of ancient wisdom, language learning tools and much more.

The Reality:

SPQR sets out to accomplish quite a bit: provide a guide for those learning Latin, a set of tools for those refreshing their skills, and an in-depth set of resources for the life and use of the Latin language.

And it succeeds amazingly on all fronts, with a vast array of content in an easy to use package.

My expectations were perhaps unfairly low when I was able to grab a download code for the app, assuming it would be a one-dimensional resource, like the ‘French to English Dictionary’ I recently grabbed for my younger son. But as I dug in … well, I just keep going back!

Certainly there is a dictionary – and it is quite comprehensive, as it should be since it is a fully searchable copy of the Lewis & Short Latin lexicon, a well known work in the field.

If you want to learn Latin, there is a massive set of instructions included, things about grammar and syntax and the overall structure of the language, taken from the classic instructional texts A New Latin Grammar, The Comic Latin Grammar and Fabulae Faciles.

So once you have learned some Latin, how about testing your skills? SPQR has you covered there as well – you can take a quiz that has you conjugating verbs. As an aside I was re-reading James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man over the holidays and the quiz reminds me of the section where none of the kids in the class could figure out the conjugations for mare.

You get loads of history – quotes, articles, pictures, information about the cultural aspects of the times, and on and on.

There is also a nice little numeric converter – change from Roman numerals and back! Not much practical use, but just a fun little addition.

But perhaps the most massive and surprising section is all of the classic Latin books included. Here are a few:

The Bello Civili (Civil War) and Bello Gallico (Gallic War) by Julius Caesar (bonus English copies included!)
Res Gestae by Augustus (bonus English copy included!)
The Poems of Catullus (bonus English copy included!)
The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius (bonus English copy included!)
Metamorphoses by Apuleius
Four landmark speeches by Cicero
Plus Horace, Juvenal, Cato, Vitruvius and more!

As noted, some texts are included in both Latin and English, with chapters and sections and English biographies of the authors as well. But I left out the biggest books included with SPQR – full copies of the works of Virgil: the Aeneid, the Georgicon and the Eclogues, all in both Latin and English.

As I look over this review it reads more like an advertisement than a review, but to an extent it makes sense. The interface is simple and inviting, the information laid out in a useful way with plenty of different access points and links, and the app is quick loading and responsive. It is an extremely useful Latin resource for anyone with a need or interest in exploring the great dead language, some of the great works of the time, and the history of the era. And for $3 on the App Store? A great deal!

Review: SPQR

Where to Buy: iTunes App Store

Price: $2.99 (currently on a ‘launch sale’ with no defined end)

What I Like: TONS of content; great interface; excellent value

What Needs Improvement: Nothing of note … latest update took care of a crash I experienced!

Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Categories: Reviews


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