Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 7)
“But Cicero long ago showed that that fault occurred not only among the Romans, that is the Latins – for Rome is in Latium – but even among the Greeks: ‘But age certainly makes this worse both in Rome and in Greece. For many have come to Athens and into this city from various places speaking poorly.’
And so he advises: ‘all the more should our speech be purified, and we should not use that most depraved standard, customary use.’ Certainly, Cicero is not speaking of the speech of the grammarians, which was the rarest and most exquisite? Rather, he is speaking of the vulgar speech common to all.
He said, ‘As boys we saw Titus Flaminius, who was consul with Quintus Metellus; he was thought to speak Latin well, but he did not know literature.’”
Id autem vitii non apud Romanos solum, idest Latinos – nam Roma in Latio sita est – verumetiam apud Graecos accidisse, iampridem ostendit Cicero, cum sequitur: “Sed hanc certe rem deteriorem vetustas fecit et Romae et in Graecia. Confluxerunt enim et Athenas et in hanc urbem multi inquinate loquentes ex diversis locis”.
Itaque monet “eo magis expurgandum esse sermonem, nec pravissima utendum consuetudinis regula”. Num de sermone grammaticorum loquitur Cicero, qui rarissimus erat apud Romanos, nec admodum exquisitus, an de vulgari et omnibus communi?
“Titum” inquit “Flaminium, qui cum Q. Metello consul fuit, pueri vidimus: existimabatur bene latine loqui, sed litteras nesciebat”.