When Leni Ribeiro Leite stood up in the main auditorium of Memorial Hall this past July, her name and appearance were enough to distinguish her: it’s still unusual on the University of Kentucky campus, where Hispanics make up about one percent of the faculty, to see a Hispanic woman at the lectern. But that was only the beginning of what made this lecture unique. She delivered it entirely in Latin, the ancient language of Caesar and Cicero. And her audience, a hundred strong, understood her and later questioned her about her conclusions, again in Latin. And Ribeiro Leite was lecturing about Latin works written in Brazil, the existence of which would be news to most people, who—if they know what Latin is at all—imagine it vanished long ago, along with gladiatorial games and the sandaled legionnaire.

Ribeiro Leite, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo...

 

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