Latin vs Philology: Part IX

Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 9)

“The ancients also used to affect the use of ollum and ollam where we use illum and illam, as Vergil in this place, that lover of antiquity, used olli in the dative case for illi whenever it occurred, as in the first book of The Aeneid: ‘Olli subridens hominum sator atque deorum Vultu, quo coelum tempestatesque serenat, Oscula libavit nate.’

So I say that we should use Latin speech, and speech which is as little obscure and subtle as can be. For what other reason did the commentaries of Publius Hygidius, who was a contemporary of Varro and Cicero, not come into common use, if it were not because of their obscurity and unusual subtlety? One should always speak Latin, and never depart from pure and familiar diction.

As Cicero advises in that same book, ‘The very act of speaking Latin is to be held in high esteem, not so much on its own account as because it is neglected by so many: for it is not as noble to know Latin as it is shameful not to know it, nor does it seem as important for a good orator as it does for a good Roman citizen.’”

Et ollum et ollam apud antiquos usurpabant, cum nos illum et illam dicimus, tametsi Virgilius hoc loco amator antiquitatis olli dativo casu pro illi quandoque est usus, ut in primo Aeneidos libro: “Olli subridens hominum sator atque deorum Vultu, quo coelum tempestatesque serenat, Oscula libavit nate”.

Latino, inquam, nobis sermone utendum est, eoque minime obscuro subtilioreve quam oporteat. Quae enim alia fuit causa ut P. Hygidii, qui Marco Varroni atque Ciceroni coaetaneus fuit, commentationes in vulgus non exierint, quam earum obscuritas inusitataque subtilitas? Latine semper loquendum est, et ab usitata puraque dictione nunquam discedendum.

“Nam ipsum latine loqui”, ut eodem in libro Cicero praecipit, “est illud quidem in magna laude ponendum, sed non tam sua sponte, quam quod est a plaerisque neglectum: non enim tam praeclarum est scire latine quam turpe nescire, neque tam id mihi oratoris boni quam civis romani proprium videtur”.

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s