Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 10)
“And there are some, Lorenzo Medici, so stubborn and obstinate that they consider Latin and grammatical speech to be the same.
Therefore it will not be out of place to add those words which we find written in the same book: ‘There were those to whom Curio seemed to be the third of his age because he used words which were perhaps rather splendid, and because he spoke Latin fairly well with a kind of domestic practice, as it seems: for he knew nothing of literature! But it makes a big difference whom one hears every day at home, with whom one speaks from childhood, and how fathers, teachers, and mothers speak. We can read the letters of Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, and it appears that the sons were brought up not so much in their mother’s lap as in her speech!’
How much utility in speaking can be conferred by domestic speech which is not corrupted but correct and thoroughly Latin is shown by several women, but with great praise by Hortensia, the daughter of Quintus Hortensius. For when the triumvirs had burdened the order of matrons with a greater tax than was fair and no patron would dare to take on their case, Hortensia faced the extraordinary indignity of the thing and did not hesitate to undertake the pleading of the case herself. She therefore pleaded with the triumvirs herself in such a constant and learned way that they, admiring the eloquence inherited from her father in such a noble and modest daughter remitted the greater part of the tax which had been imposed.”
Et sunt nonnulli, Laurenti Medices, adeo pervicaces, adeo cervicosi atque insolentes, ut eandem esse velint latinam atque grammaticam locutionem.
Quare non erit intempestivum ea quoque verba adiecisse, quae eodem in libro scripta legimus: “Erant tamen quibus videretur illius aetatis tertius Curio, quia splendidioribus fortasse verbis utebatur, et quia latine non pessime loquebatur, usu, credo, aliquo domestico; nam litterarum admodum nihil sciebat. Sed magni interest quos quisque audiat quottidie domi, quibuscum loquatur a puero, quemadmodum patres, pedagogi, matres etiam loquantur. Legimus epistolas Corneliae matris Gracchorum, apparet filios non tam in gremio educatos quam in sermone matris”.
Quantum autem utilitatis afferat ad dicendum sermo domesticus, qui non inquinatus sit, sed emendatus ac latinus, cum aliae nonnullae mulieres, tum Hortensia, Q. Hortensii filia, sua magna cum laude ostendit. Cum enim triumviri graviore tributo quam par esset matronarum ordinem onerassent, nec patronus ullus earum causam capessere auderet, Hortensia, tantam rei indignitatem intuta, eiusmodi subire patrocinium non dubitavit. Oravit igitur pro matronarum ordine apud triumviros Hortensia et constanter et perdiserte adeo, ut ii, paternam facundiam in nobili pudicissimaque filia <…>, sententiam mutarint, maiorem imperatae pecuniae partem remittentes.