A Natural History of Latin by Tore Janson

By Tore Janson

No identified language, together with English, has completed the good fortune and durability of Latin. French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian are between its direct descendants, and numerous Latin phrases and words contain the cornerstone of English itself. A normal background or Latin tells its background from its origins over 2500 years in the past to the current. Brilliantly conceived, popularizing yet authoritative, and written with the fluency and light-weight contact that experience made Tore Janson's converse so beautiful to tens of millions of readers, it's a masterpiece of adroit synthesis. The ebook commences with an outline of the origins, emergence, and dominance of Latin over the Classical interval. Then follows an account of its survival throughout the heart a long time into glossy instances, with emphasis on its evolution during the historical past, tradition, and spiritual practices of Medieval Europe. by way of really apt citation of Latin phrases, words, and texts the writer illustrates how the written and spoken language replaced, zone by means of zone over the years; the way it met resistance from local languages; and the way consequently a few complete languages disappeared. Janson bargains a vibrant demonstration of the worth of Latin as a method of entry to a colourful previous and a persuasive argument for its persisted worthy. A concise and easy-to-understand creation to Latin grammar and a listing of the main widespread Latin phrases, together with 500 idioms and words nonetheless in universal use, supplement the paintings.

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However, under special circumstances papyrus can be preserved for a very long time, especially if it happens to end up in a completely dry place. The papyri which have survived from antiquity have usually been found in deserts, and in caves around the Dead Sea. The texts are mainly in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, but there are some in Latin too. Papyrus could be used as loose leaves for letters and that sort of thing. Long texts were written on strips of papyrus eight inches to a foot wide and up to ten yards long fixed to a wooden stick at each end.

A number of poets wrote mainly about love, and the best of them have hardly been surpassed to this day. Catullus was one of the first. His love for a woman called Lesbia gave rise to a number of passionate poems. Here is one: Dicebas quondam solum te nosse Catullum, Lesbia, nec prae me velle tenere Iovem. Dilexi tum te non tantum ut vulgus amicam sed pater ut gnatos diligit et generos. Nunc te cognovi. Quare etsi impensius uror, multo mi tamen es vilior et levior. ’ inquis. Quod amantem iniuria talis cogit amare magis sed bene velle minus.

By the birth of Christ they had subjugated both Greece itself and all the other areas which had had Greek as their official language ever since the time of Alexander. In consequence the Romans were deeply influenced by the Greek way of life, Greek science, Greek art, and not least Greek literature. In time, all Romans with any claim to education could read and speak Greek. The Greek and Roman civilizations can almost be said to have merged into one common culture. But it was a long process, and one that was never totally completed.

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