Classical Latin

Classical Latin is the modern term used to refer to a linguistic register of the Latin language. This register was generally regarded by writers of the late Roman Republic and the Roman Empire as "good Latin". Any unabridged Latin dictionary informs moderns that Marcus Tullius Cicero and his contemporaries of the late republic while using lingua Latina and sermo Latinus to mean the Latin language as opposed to the Greek or other languages, and sermo vulgaris or sermo vulgi to refer to the vernacular of the uneducated masses, regarded the speech they valued most and in which they wrote as Latinitas, "Latinity", with the implication of good. Sometimes it is called sermo familiaris, "speech of the good families", sermo urbanus, "speech of the city" or rarely sermo nobilis, "noble speech", but mainly besides Latinitas it was Latine (adverb), "in good Latin", or Latinius (comparative degree of adjective), "good Latin."

Latinitas was spoken as well as written. Moreover, it was the language taught by the schools. Prescriptive rules therefore applied to it, and where a special subject was concerned, such as poetry or rhetoric, additional rules applied as well. Now that the spoken Latinitas has become extinct (in favor of various other registers later in date) the rules of the, for the most part, polished (politus) texts may give the appearance of an artificial language, but Latinitas was a form of sermo, or spoken language and as such retains a spontaneity. No authors are noted for the type of rigidity evidenced by stylized art, except possibly the repetitious abbreviations and stock phrases of inscriptions.

Read more about Classical Latin:  Authors of The Golden Age, Authors of The Silver Age, Stylistic Shifts

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Famous quotes containing the words latin and/or classical:

    I am not of the opinion generally entertained in this country [England], that man lives by Greek and Latin alone; that is, by knowing a great many words of two dead languages, which nobody living knows perfectly, and which are of no use in the common intercourse of life. Useful knowledge, in my opinion, consists of modern languages, history, and geography; some Latin may be thrown into the bargain, in compliance with custom, and for closet amusement.
    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)

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