Latin Language and Latin Culture: From Ancient to Modern by Joseph Farrell

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 lifeless language. This booklet considers the resources of those metaphors and analyzes their influence on how Latin literature is learn. by way of analyzing with and regularly opposed to those metaphors, the publication bargains a special view of Latin as a language and as a motor vehicle for cultural perform. The argument levels over quite a few texts in Latin and texts approximately Latin from antiquity to the 20th century.

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Extra resources for Latin Language and Latin Culture: From Ancient to Modern Times (Roman Literature and its Contexts)

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It is intriguing to ®nd Latin, the impoverished language, on the side of light, clarity, and truth while Greek lines up on the side of darkness, obscurity, and error. Of course the correlation can simply be explained away. Memmius and Lucretius are Latin speakers. Lucretius seizes the privileged position of the linguistic and cultural interpreter who can make clear to practical Roman Memmius (who stands for a much wider, practical-minded Roman audience) a world that is theoretical and Greek.

In certain areas the perception of inadequacy becomes acute. It is the beauty of Greek (Arnold, Woolf ) that accounts in large part for its reputation as a poetic language; and the Greeks, according to received wisdom, invented philosophy, both the word and the idea. The Romans followed the Greeks in both ®elds, often at quite a distance, and their inferiority is often referred to the narrower resources of Latin speech. No wonder Lucretius, who aspired to write a philosophical treatise in poetic form, was moved to comment on the constraints imposed upon him by the limited capacity of his native tongue to embody these two forms of discourse independently, let alone in combination.

Of the many observations that could be made about this remarkable transition, I note only that the shift from patrician (and thus a fortiori Roman) to Greek, and to the Phaedrus in particular, brings the entire movement of this extraordinary passage to a close: for Cicero has of course been thinking of Plato all along. In a general sense, his entire project of writing philosophical dialogues is inspired by Plato's example; more speci®cally, his earlier dialogue on The Republic and this one on Laws are explicitly modeled on the Platonic dialogues of the same names.

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