Latin vs. Philology: Part X

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.”

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/10/Hortensia_speech.gif/220px-Hortensia_speech.gif

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.

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.’”

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Vergilius.jpg

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”.

Latin vs. Philology: Part VIII

Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 8)

“Not long afterward, he instructs us about what happened concerning a new word of Sisenna: ‘Sisenna, though, as if he wished to be a corrector of familiar speech, was unable to be deterred by the accuser Gaius Rusius from using unfamiliar words.’ For when Gaius Rusius was accusing Gaius Hirtilius, Sisenna, who was defending Hirtilius, said that some of his charges were to be spitonable [to be spit on]. He used this word, I think, because the charges were to be spurned and rejected as the image of spit. Gaius Rusius joked about this new and unfamiliar word saying, ‘I will be surrounded, judges, if you don’t help me. I won’t know what Sisenna is saying – I fear an ambush! Spitonable, what is that? I know what spit is, but I don’t know onable.’ Therefore, it was not absurd that the greatest laughter was excited, though Sisenna thought that he spoke Latin correctly when he spoke in a strange manner.

Therefore, Caesar was wise to suggest in his first book de Analogia that ‘you should avoid an unheard and unusual word like a sailor avoids a reef.’

Who could find fault with the fact that he was subjected to laughter, when he held this speech in front of the city prefect: ‘This Roman knight eats apluda and drinks floces.’ Ancient yokels used to call the bran of grains apluda, and they called the dregs of wine floces.

So we read in Caecilius, ‘Goddammit, I don’t want the froth or the dregs, I want WINE!’

https://sententiaeantiquae.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/13404-drinkingrome.jpg

Nec multo post, quid de novo Sisennae verbo acciderit, docet: “Sisenna autem quasi emendator sermonis usitati cum esse vellet, ne a G. Rusio quidem accusatore deterreri potuit quo minus inusitatis verbis uteretur”. Nam G. Rusio accusante C. Hirtilium Sisenna, qui illum defendebat, dixit “quaedam eius sputatilica esse crimina”; hoc ea nomine appellans, ut existimo, quod sputorum instar contemnenda reiiciendaque forent. Ad quod quidem verbum et inusitatum et novum cavillatus, G. Rusius: “Circumvenior” inquit “iudices, nisi subvenitis. Sisenna quid dicat nescio, metuo insidias. Sputatilica, quid est hoc? Sputa, quid sit, scio, tilica nescio”. Non igitur absurde maximi risus commoti sunt, cum Sisenna putaret recte loqui latine cum inusitate loqueretur.

Prudenter igitur Caesar, libro primo de analogia, “tanquam scopulum” inquit “sic fugias inauditum atque insolens dictum”.

Quis enim vituperet eum iure habitum risui, qui apud urbis praefectum orationem habens: “Hic eques romanus” ait “apludam edit et floces bibit”. Apludas frumenti furfures prisci rustici dixere, floces vero vini fecem.

Itaque apud Caecilium legitur: “Edepol ego neque florem neque floces volo, mihi vinum volo”.

Latin vs. Philology: Part VII

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.’”

Cicero - Wikipedia

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”.

Latin vs. Philology: Part VI

Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 6)

“Perhaps they used to use a degenerate kind of Latin, as we see in Terence, when he says that he does not wish to die [emori] in the third conjugation, but then uses emoriri in the fourth. Or as in The Eunuch, Thrasus says, ‘For all who were present to die from laughter.’ Here, though, as it is meant as a stupid sentence for an inept and ridiculous person, so he ascribes a faulty word  to him as a foreigner in light of his ignorance of Latin. But Phaedria, who was an Athenian citizen, used each language incorruptly as though his own, and said, ‘I would prefer to die [mori]’, and not ‘moriri.’

Again, in Heautontimoroumenos, that is, The Self Punisher, the Attic youth Clytipho says, ‘I want to die [emori]’.

Pomponius then follows up and says, ‘But almost everyone in those times, who had never lived outside of the city and who had never been stained by barbarism at home used to speak correctly.’”

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Portrait_of_Terence_from_Vaticana%2C_Vat._lat.jpg

Utebantur enim illi forsitan depravata latinitate, qualem videmus apud Terentium, cum non emori dicit secundum tertiam coniugationem, sed emoriri secundum quartam: ut in Eunucho, loquente Thrasone: “Risu omnes qui aderant emoriri”. Hic enim ut stultam sententiam homini inepto ac ridiculo, ita etiam pro latinitatis imperitia, ut peregrino, verbum vitiosum ascripsit, emoriri inquiens; at Phedria atheniensis, qui civis esset, linguaque uteretur vernacula atque incorrupta: “Mori me” inquit “malim”, et non “moriri” dixit.

Et rursus in Heautontimoroumeno, Heautontimorumeno, hoc est se ipsum cruciantem, atticus adolescens Clytipho: “Emori cupio”.

Prosequitur deinceps Pomponius: “Sed omnes tum fere, qui neque extra urbem hanc vixerant neque eos aliquae barbariae, in domestica, infuscarant, recte loquebantur”.

Latin vs. Philology: Part V

Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 5)

“I wish that you would apply the argument to yourselves, since you are a renowned colony of the Romans. What about when you need to say something accurately and splendidly in the senate, or among the decemvirs or other magistrates, or in that most turbulent assembly of all the citizens? Do you take refuge in grammar, or do you rather use your mother tongue and Tuscan speech?

For of that Latin, which received its name from Latium, if the entire memory of Festus Pompeius had been overturned so that hardly a scrap of it remained unharmed, what mention would I make of it?

Especially given that long before the times of Festus Pompeius, Latin speech had begun to be depraved, as one can see laid out in these words in Cicero’s The Orator, to Brutus: ‘But go on, Pomponius, about Caesar, and give up what remains. You see that the ground, he said, and as it were the foundation of the orator is an emended and Latin mode of speech, and anyone who has received praise for it up until this point received it not for their reasoning or their knowledge, but for their good usage.’ Therefore, correct and Latin speaking was not a matter of literature, but of common usage.

He adds immediately, ‘I omit Gaius Lellius [Laelius] and Publius Scipio: the praise of their age was almost their innocence of speaking Latin thus – though this does not apply to everyone, for we see their contemporaries Caecilius and Pacuvius speaking like shit.’

Velim de vobisipsis, qui Romanorum colonia estis inclyta, argumentum capiatis. Cum quid vobis vel in senatu, vel apud decenviros, vel apud alios magistratus, aut in ipsa etiam totius populi turbulentissima concione de re magna accuratius est splendidiusque dicendum, ad grammaticamne confugitis, an materna potius utimini ac ethrusca oratione?

Nam latina illa, quae a Latio nomen accepit, si Festi Pompeii memoria tota iam adeo versa erat, ut vix ulla pars eius maneret innoxia, quam de illa fecero mentionem?
Praesertim cum multo ante Festi Pompeii tempora sermo latinus coeperat depravari, quod eius rei ex Oratore Ciceronis ad Brutum hisce verbis licet intelligi: “Sed perge, Pomponii, de Caesare, et redde quae restant. Solum quoddam, inquit ille, et quasi fundamentum oratoris vides locutionem emendatam et latinam, cuius penes quos laus adhuc fuit, non fuit rationis aut scientiae, sed quasi bonae consuetudinis”. Locutio igitur emendata latinaque non erat litteraturae, sed consuetudinis vulgaris.

Subditque continuo: “Mitto G. Lellium P. Scipionem: aetatis illius ista fuit laus tanquam innocentiae sic latine loquendi – nec omnium tamen, nam illorum aequales Caecilium et Pacuvium male locutos videmus”.

Latin vs. Philology: Part IV

Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 4)

“Nor was there that much need of literature in pure and undiluted Latinity, since plebiscites and decrees of the senate and laws and the responses of legal experts and the praetorian exceptions and all of the laws, institutes, pacts, and agreements of the city were written in Latin, not grammatically.

Should we suppose that orators in the senate or the forum or among the people used any language other than Latin (that is, their daily and common language), when a speech was to be composed (and Quintilian is the witness here) for the judgment of others, and when one needed to speak among those who were altogether uneducated and certainly did not at any rate know literature?

Even Cicero himself teaches that the greatest fault in speaking is to break from the common mode of speech and the custom of agreed sense.

Livy, a man of singular eloquence, sometimes neglected this maxim, and Asinius Pollio did not hesitate to joke that there was a certain Patavinity in his speech.

A speech, as Cicero said, should be accommodated to the ears of the multitude.”

Gaius Asinius Pollio consul 40 BC

Nec erat admodum opus litteratura in mera ac pura latinitate, cum et plebiscita et senatusconsulta et decreta et leges ac iurisconsultorum responsa et praetoriae exceptiones, et omnia civitatis iura, instituta, pacta conventaque latine, non grammatice, scriberentur.

Num putemus oratores vel in senatu, vel in foro, vel apud populum alia usos oratione quam latina, hoc est quottidiana vulgarique, cum esset componenda oratio, vel Quintiliano teste, ad aliorum iudicia, saepiusque apud eos loquendum, qui imperiti omnino forent atque alias certe litteras ignorarent?

Quin ipse etiam Cicero praecipit in dicendo vitium vel maximum esse a vulgari genere orationis atque a consuetudine communis sensus abhorrere.

Quod eum T. Livius, singulari facundia vir, aliquando neglexerit, non dubitavit Pollio Asinius cavillari patavinitatem quandam in eius inesse oratione.

Est enim ipsa oratio, ut ait idem Cicero, auribus multitudinis accomodanda.