Latin vs. Philology, Part XVI:

Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 16)

“What pure and uncorrupted Latinity could exist in the Roman people, who consisted of so many tribes and nations? A people which the numberless multitude of slaves, from nearly the entire world, given first their liberty and then their citizenship at one time or another and because of the calamities of the republic, corrupted in both language and customs?

I pass over how many people were received into the city by Romulus, and then by the kings which succeeded him – the Sabines, the Hernici, the Veientes, the Samnites, the Etruscans, the Oscans, and many others afterward were received not only into the city, but into the civic body. Wasn’t all of Carthage transported to Rome? Was it not the same with the Numantini? What about the Macedonians? What about the Greeks? Why should I even bring up the Asiatic mob?”

Portrait of Francesco Filelfo, bust, in profile, facing left, wearing gown with fur collar and hat with laurel band; illustration from Paulus Freher's "Theatrum virorum eruditione clarorum" (Nuremberg: Hoffmann, 1688)<br/>Engraving

Quae enim mera integraque latinitas esse iam poterat in romano populo, qui ex tam multis gentibus nationibusque constabat? quem innumerabilis etiam multitudo servorum, ex universo poene orbe, aliis temporibus atque aliis, ob reipublicae calamitates, libertate primo, deinde civitate donata, et lingua et moribus inquinarat?

Omitto quot populi, ab ipso usque Romulo urbis conditore, a caeterisque deinceps regibus in urbem recepti sunt, Sabini, Hernici, Veientes, Samnites, Ethrusci, Osci aliique postea permulti, nec in urbem solum sunt recepti, sed etiam in civitatem. Nonne tota Carthago Romam advecta est? Non item Numantini? Quid Macedonas? Quid Graecos? Quid asiaticum vulgus meminero?

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