Latin language


November 28, 2021

Latin or Latin language is an Indo-European language belonging to the Latin-Faliscan group of languages. It was spoken in Lazio (Lătĭum in Latin) at least since the beginning of the first millennium BC.


Origins and archaic age

Traces of the archaic Latin (up to the third century BC) remain in some citations by the authors and especially in inscriptions, which together with the comparison with other related languages ​​allow a very partial reconstruction of it. According to Sesto Pompeo Festus, Roman lexicographer and grammarian of the second century. AD, Latin in the sense of primeval 'Lazio language' was an idiom in its day almost completely disappeared: Speaking in Latin comes from Lazio; which language was so abandoned that hardly any knowledge remained of it (Latine loqui a Latio dictum est; quæ locutio adeo est versa, ut vix ulla eius pars maneat in notitia). Only fragments remain of the most ancient literary texts, those of Livio Andronico, Nevio and Ennio, all dating back to the third century BC, therefore datable about five centuries after the mythological foundation of Rome (according to Varro in 753 BC). The only exception are Plautus' comedies, which therefore constitute the main source for the study of the archaic language. With the 2nd century BC Latin literature developed, and especially with the work of Marco Porcio Cato the Censor a Latin literary prose was born. The language, however, still had a certain roughness, and was not without dialectal influences. Therefore, the use of the term "archaic Latin" is extended to consider the Latin language prior to 75 BC as such. approximately.

Classical Latin

It was in the 1st century BC, with the extension of Roman citizenship to the Italics and the resulting social changes, that concern for the purity of the language arose in Rome. Also under the pressure of Greek linguistic speculation, a process of regularization of the language began. In these times men of letters flourished such as Cicero, who was an orator and philosopher, as well as a politician (he was consul in 63 BC, the year of Catiline's conspiracy); or like Catullus and the poetae novi, who revolutionized the poetic language. The writing was not unknown even to 'rough' condottieri such as Cesare, who was greatly admired for his clear style, and of which two works still studied and appreciated remain: The Gallic War (Commentarii de bello Gallico) and The Civil War (Commentarii de nice civilians). The time was now ripe for Latin literature to challenge Greek literature, which was then considered unsurpassable. In the next generation, under the principality of Augustus, the greatest poets of Rome flourished; Horace, who excelled in satire and lyricism, emulated lyricists such as Pindaro and Alceo, Virgilio, who distinguished himself in the bucolic genre, in didactic poetry and epic, rivaled Theocritus, Hesiod and even Homer; and then again Ovid, master of the elegiac meter, and Tito Livio in historiography. The classical period of the Latin language is well known: Latin, unlike the continuative idioms, is a language that tends to be, but not strictly, SOV (subject-object-verb), with five declensions and four verbal conjugations. The declension of nouns has six cases, three direct (nominative, accusative, vocative) and three obliques (genitive, dative, ablative). Compared to the Indo-European it has lost the locative (absorbed by the ablative, but some small crystallized relic remains. It should be noted that, despite the widespread opinion at the scholastic level, the genitive has nothing to do with the locative) and instrumental (also absorbed by the ablative). The optative verbal mode was also lost (it was absorbed by the subjunctive) and so were the average diathesis (partially surviving in those verbs called deponents) and the dual (of which only minimal traces remain). Furthermore, in Latin the concept of aspect did not have much importance: let it be the ao

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