By Joseph Farrell
The Latin language is popularly imagined in a couple of particular methods: as a masculine language, an imperial language, a classical language, a useless language. This ebook considers the resources of those metaphors and analyzes their impression on how Latin literature is learn. through studying with and on the whole opposed to those metaphors, the ebook bargains a special view of Latin as a language and as a automobile for cultural perform. The argument levels over various texts in Latin and texts approximately Latin from antiquity to the 20 th century.
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Extra info for Latin Language and Latin Culture: From Ancient to Modern Times
27 CHAPTER 2 The poverty of our ancestral speech Poor relations Again and again, when Latin culture confronts itself and inquires into its nature, it sees Greek. The conclusion that often follows is that Latin is derivative and inferior ± that in trying to be Greek Latin dooms itself to epigonal status. For the Latin speaker an authentic and unmediated connection between nature and culture is unattainable. But such a relationship is imagined to exist for Greek, and this belief becomes a source of envy, perceived inferiority, and self-deprecation.
At issue in this as in other stories of Latin's demise is a strong element of teleology that appears to work like this: it is ``known'' that Latin is now a ``dead'' language, the exclusive preserve of academic specialists, unsupported by a living culture. The task is to discover when this situation ®rst came about. '' Alcuin's reforms are as good an event as any on which to blame Latin's demise ± which is to say, not very good at all. Long after Charlemagne, scholars, clerics, and diplomats throughout Europe continued to write and converse ¯uently in Latin, many of them perhaps exclusively or nearly so.
None of Atticus' own literary works survives. If one were to appear, Cicero's friend would join Julius Caesar in a very select group, doubling the number of native Roman authors whose works still exist; for Atticus, as his biographer Cornelius Nepos tells us, was from a very old Roman family. His confusion in the dialogue I have been discussing is thus the more readily understandable. Atticus did not have two fatherlands, one natural and the other cultural. 14 It is therefore at least intelligible that he should be unfamiliar with the idea that many Romans have two fatherlands.