classical latin


  • [3] This is the first known reference (possibly innovated during this time) to Classical Latin applied by authors, evidenced in the authentic language of their works.

  • This is what is called the Augustan Age, which was perhaps of all others the most brilliant, a period at which it should seem as if the greatest men, and the immortal authors,
    had met together upon the earth, in order to write the Latin language in its utmost purity and perfection…[13] and of Tacitus, his conceits and sententious style is not that of the golden age…[14] Evidently, Teuffel received ideas about
    golden and silver Latin from an existing tradition and embedded them in a new system, transforming them as he thought best.

  • John Edwin Sandys, who was an authority in Latin style for several decades, summarizes the differences between Golden and Silver Latin as follows:[23] Silver Latin is to be
    distinguished by: • “an exaggerated conciseness and point” • “occasional archaic words and phrases derived from poetry” • “increase in the number of Greek words in ordinary use” (the Emperor Claudius in Suetonius refers to “both our languages,”
    Latin and Greek[24]) • “literary reminiscences” • “The literary use of words from the common dialect” (dictare and dictitare as well as classical dicere, “to say”)

  • By assigning the term “pre-classical” to Old Latin and implicating it to post-classical (or post-Augustan) and silver Latin, Cruttwell realized that his construct was not
    accordance with ancient usage and assertions: “[T]he epithet classical is by many restricted to the authors who wrote in it [golden Latin].

  • Problems in comparative literature have risen out of group styles finding similarity by period, in which case one may speak of Old Latin, Silver Latin, Late Latin as styles
    or a phase of styles.

  • The standards, authors and manuals from the Classical Latin period formed the model for the language taught and used in later periods across Europe and beyond.

  • [11][12] Wagner’s translation of Teuffel’s writing is as follows: The golden age of the Roman literature is that period in which the climax was reached in the perfection of
    form, and in most respects also in the methodical treatment of the subject-matters.

  • In a translation of Bielfeld’s Elements of universal erudition (1770): The Second Age of Latin began about the time of Caesar [his ages are different from Teuffel’s], and
    ended with Tiberius.

  • The topic remained at that point while interest in the classici scriptores declined in the medieval period as the best form of the language yielded to medieval Latin, inferior
    to classical standards.

  • [10] Authors of the Golden Age Teuffel’s definition of the “First Period” of Latin was based on inscriptions, fragments, and the literary works of the earliest known authors.

  • The term refers to the canonical relevance of literary works written in Latin in the late Roman Republic, and early to middle Roman Empire.

  • While the Latin used in different periods deviated from “Classical” Latin, efforts were periodically made to relearn and reapply the models of the Classical period, for instance
    by Alcuin during the reign of Charlemagne, and later during the Renaissance, producing the highly classicising form of Latin now known as Neo-Latin.

  • Teuffel’s classification, still in use today (with modifications), groups classical Latin authors into periods defined by political events rather than by style.

  • While praising the application of rules to classical Latin (most intensely in the Golden Age, he says “In gaining accuracy, however, classical Latin suffered a grievous loss.

  • Apparently, in the worst implication of their views, there was no such thing as Classical Latin by the ancient definition, and some of the very best writing of any period
    in world history was deemed stilted, degenerate, unnatural language.

  • Each author’s work in the Roman lists was considered equivalent to one in the Greek.

  • Teuffel presents the Second Period in his major work, (Golden Age of Roman Literature), dated 671–767 AUC (83 BC – AD 14), according to his own recollection.

  • The ancient authors themselves first defined style by recognizing different kinds of sermo, or “speech”.

  • Though he introduces , (The Silver Age of Roman Literature)[16] from the death of Augustus to the death of Trajan (14–117 AD), he also mentions parts of a work by Seneca the
    Elder, a (a slight influence of silver Latin).

  • [17] Though Teuffel’s First Period was equivalent to Old Latin and his Second Period was equal to the Golden Age, his Third Period encompasses both the Silver Age and the
    centuries now termed Late Latin, in which the forms seemed to break loose from their foundation and float freely.

  • Republican[edit] Marcus Tullius Cicero, after whom Teuffel named his Ciceronian period of the Golden Age Julius Caesar The literary histories list includes all authors from
    Canonical to the Ciceronian Age—even those whose works are fragmented or missing altogether.

  • The content of new literary works was continually proscribed by the emperor, who exiled or executed existing authors and played the role of literary man, himself (typically

  • Pronunciation: [laˈtiːnɪtaːs]; Native to: Roman Republic, Roman Empire; Region: Roman-ruled lands; Era: 75 BC to AD 3rd century, when it developed into Late Latin; Language
    family: Indo-European, Italic, Latino-Faliscan, Latin, Classical Latin; Early form: Old Latin; Writing system: Classical Latin alphabet ; Official status: Official language in: Roman Republic, Roman Empire; Regulated by: Schools of grammar
    and rhetoric; Language codes: Linguist List: lat-cla; Linguasphere: 51-AAB-aaa Philological constructs Classical[edit] “Good Latin” in philology is known as “classical” Latin literature.

  • Since spoken Latinitas has become extinct (in favor of subsequent registers), the rules of politus (polished) texts may give the appearance of an artificial language.

  • In a certain sense, therefore, Latin was studied as a dead language, while it was still a living.

  • Classical Latin is the form of Literary Latin recognized as a literary standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire.

  • By valuing Classical Latin as “first class”, it was better to write with Latinitas selected by authors who were attuned to literary and upper-class languages of the city as
    a standardized style.

  • The Golden Age had already made an appearance in German philology, but in a less systematic way.

  • Like Teuffel, he has trouble finding a name for the first of the three periods (the current Old Latin phase), calling it “from Livius to Sulla.”

  • Teuffel went on to publish other editions, but the English translation of A History of Roman Literature gained immediate success.

  • It was under this construct that Marcus Cornelius Fronto (an African-Roman lawyer and language teacher) used (“first-class” or “reliable authors”) in the second century AD.

  • He says the language “is marked by immaturity of art and language, by a vigorous but ill-disciplined imitation of Greek poetical models, and in prose by a dry sententiousness
    of style, gradually giving way to a clear and fluent strength…” These abstracts have little meaning to those not well-versed in Latin literature.

  • In some later periods, it was regarded as good or proper Latin, with following versions viewed as debased, degenerate, or corrupted.

  • It is clear that his mindset had shifted from Golden and Silver Ages to Golden and Silver Latin, also to include Latinitas, which at this point must be interpreted as Classical

  • Cruttwell adopts the time periods found in Teuffel’s work, but he presents a detailed analysis of style, whereas Teuffel was more concerned with history.

  • That is, men of literature were confounded about the meaning of “good Latin.”

  • Their works were viewed as models of good Latin.

  • With the exception of a few major writers, such as Cicero, Caesar, Virgil and Catullus, ancient accounts of Republican literature praise jurists and orators whose writings,
    and analyses of various styles of language cannot be verified because there are no surviving records.

  • [8] Ages of Latin[edit] Wilhelm Sigismund Teuffel In 1870, Wilhelm Sigismund Teuffel’s (A History of Roman Literature) defined the philological notion of classical Latin through
    a typology similar to the Ages of Man, setting out the Golden and Silver Ages of classical Latin.

  • Aulus Gellius includes authors like Plautus, who are considered writers of Old Latin and not strictly in the period of classical Latin.

  • Each and every author has a style, which typically allows his prose or poetry to be identified by experienced Latinists.

  • He may have been influenced in that regard by one of his sources E. Opitz, who in 1852 had published specimen lexilogiae argenteae latinitatis, which includes Silver Latinity.

  • The word Latin is now understood by default to mean “Classical Latin”; for example, modern Latin textbooks almost exclusively teach Classical Latin.

  • Thus Old Latin, Classical Latin, Vulgar Latin, etc., are not considered different languages, but are all referred to by the term, Latin.

  • The “best” Latin is defined as “golden” Latin, the second of the three periods.

  • [6] In 1736, Robert Ainsworth’s turned English words and expressions into “proper and classical Latin.

  • Teuffel regarded the Silver Age as a loss of natural language, and therefore of spontaneity, implying that it was last seen in the Golden Age.

  • Though he does use the term “Old Roman” at one point, most of these findings remain unnamed.

  • In time, some of Cruttwell’s ideas become established in Latin philology.

  • Thus, in rhetoric, Cicero was able to define sublime, intermediate, and low styles within Classical Latin.

  • In his preface, Cruttwell notes “Teuffel’s admirable history, without which many chapters in the present work could not have attained completeness.”

  • [citation needed] According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the term classical (from classicus) entered modern English in 1599, some 50 years after its re-introduction
    to the continent.

  • The Renaissance saw a revival in Roman culture, and with it, the return of Classic (“the best”) Latin.

  • The philosophic prose of a good emperor was in no way compatible with either Teuffel’s view of unnatural language, or Cruttwell’s depiction of a decline.

  • Whether a given form of speech prefers to use prepositions such as ad, ex, de, for “to”, “from” and “of” rather than simple case endings is a matter of style.

  • Like Teuffel, Cruttwell encountered issues while attempting to condense the voluminous details of time periods in an effort to capture the meaning of phases found in their
    various writing styles.

  • “[7] In 1768, David Ruhnken’s Critical History of the Greek Orators recast the molded view of the classical by applying the word “canon” to the pinakes of orators after the
    Biblical canon, or list of authentic books of the Bible.

  • “[1] The term classicus (masculine plural classici) was devised by the Romans to translate Greek (encrithentes), and “select” which refers to authors who wrote in a form of
    Greek that was considered model.


Works Cited

[‘When rarely used in English, the term is capitalized: Latinitas.
o Citroni 2006, p. 204.
o ^ Citroni 2006, p. 205.
o ^ Citroni 2006, p. 206, reported in Aulus Gellius, 9.8.15.
o ^ Citroni 2006, p. 207.
o ^ Bradford, William (1855) [1648].
“Gov. Bradford’s Dialogue”. In Morton, Nathaniel (ed.). New England’s Memorial. Boston: Congregational Board of Publication. p. 330.
o ^ Littlefield 1904, p. 301.
o ^ Ainsworth, Robert (January 1736). “Article XXX: Thesaurus Linguae Latinae
Compendarius”. The Present State of the Republic of Letters. London: W. Innys and R. Manby. XVII.
o ^ Gorak, Jan (1991). The making of the modern canon: genesis and crisis of a literary idea. London: Athlone. p. 51.
o ^ Cruttwell 1877, p. 3.
o ^
Cruttwell 1877, p. 142.
o ^ Teuffel 1873, p. 216.
o ^ Teuffel 1873, p. 226.
o ^ Bielfeld 1770, p. 244.
o ^ Bielfeld 1770, p. 345.
o ^ Teuffel 1873, p. 385, “Public life became extinct, all political business passed into the hands of the
o ^ Teuffel 1873, p. 526.
o ^ Teuffel 1873, p. 530.
o ^ Teuffel & Schwabe 1892, pp. 4–5.
o ^ Cruttwell 1877, p. 6.
o ^ Cruttwell 1877, p. 341.
o ^ Teuffel & Schwabe 1892, p. 192.
o ^ Auerbach, Erich (1965) [1958]. Literary
Language and its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages. Bollingen Series LXXIV. Translated by Mannheim, Ralph. Pantheon Books. p. 33.
o ^ Sandys, John Edwin (1921). A Companion to Latin Studies Edited for the Syndics of the University
Press (3rd ed.). Cambridge: University Press. pp. 824–26.
o ^ Suetonius, Claudius, 24.1.
• Bielfeld, Baron (1770), The Elements of Universal Erudition, Containing an Analytical Abridgement of the Science, Polite Arts and Belles Lettres, vol. III,
translated by Hooper, W., London: G Scott
• Citroni, Mario (2006), “The Concept of the Classical and the Canons of Model Authors in Roman Literature”, in Porter, James I. (ed.), The Classical Tradition of Greece and Rome, translated by Packham,
RA, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 204–34
• Cruttwell, Charles Thomas (1877), A History of Roman Literature from the Earliest Period to the Death of Marcus Aurelius, London: Charles Griffin & Co.
• Littlefield, George Emery (1904),
Early Schools and School-books of New England, Boston, MA: Club of Odd Volumes
• Settis, Salvatore (2006), The Future of the “Classical”, translated by Cameron, Allan, Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity Press
• Teuffel, Wilhelm Sigismund (1873),
A History of Roman Literature, translated by Wagner, Wilhelm, London: George Bell & Sons
• Teuffel, Wilhelm Sigismund; Schwabe, Ludwig (1892), Teuffel’s History of Roman Literature Revised and Enlarged, vol. II, The Imperial Period, translated
by Warr, George C.W. (from the 5th German ed.), London: George Bell & Sons