By Tore Janson

ISBN-10: 0199263094

ISBN-13: 9780199263097

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 average background or Latin tells its historical past from its origins over 2500 years in the past to the current. Brilliantly conceived, popularizing yet authoritative, and written with the fluency and lightweight contact that experience made Tore Janson's converse so beautiful to tens of millions of readers, it's a masterpiece of adroit synthesis. The e-book 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 center a long time into smooth instances, with emphasis on its evolution through the historical past, tradition, and spiritual practices of Medieval Europe. by way of sensible citation of Latin phrases, words, and texts the writer illustrates how the written and spoken language replaced, zone by way of zone through the years; the way it met resistance from local languages; and the way consequently a few whole languages disappeared. Janson bargains a vibrant demonstration of the worth of Latin as a way of entry to a colourful earlier and a persuasive argument for its endured 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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Sample text

But it was not easy, as the senators were experienced men who had heard many fine words on other occasions. To succeed you had to be very good. It was also important to be able to speak in court. In the modern world that is something lawyers do, but in Rome things worked very differently. Rome was truly a city ruled by law, not least in the sense that the citizens of Rome brought lawsuits against each other about everything under the sun. Landowners and the wealthy sued each other over business deals, loans, the boundaries of their land, or the collapse of a roof, while public officeholders could be prosecuted for abuse of power and corruption.

A characteristic feature of his style is that Caesar never writes about himself as ‘I’ but always writes ‘Caesar’ as if he was discussing someone else. However, when you look more carefully at what Caesar says, you soon find that it is to a large extent propaganda which aims to explain and defend his actions. For the most part he marched his army around and fought pitched battles, which makes the narrative rather monotonous, as millions of schoolchildren have discovered, since his account of the Gallic war has quite undeservedly taken up a great deal of time in the traditional Latin syllabus.

Italy obviously had a special status, but all the other regions became provinces, which meant that they were ruled by a governor appointed by Rome. The governor naturally had a staff of Romans and in addition there were always one or more garrisons, but apart from these, in a new province there were not necessarily many people who knew Latin. This state of affairs gradually altered in the peaceful conditions which obtained during several centuries of empire, as more and more people learnt Latin, giving up their native language in its favour.

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A Natural History of Latin by Tore Janson


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