1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Latin Language
LATIN LANGUAGE. 1. Earliest Records of its Area.—Latin was the language spoken in Rome and in the plain of Latium in the 6th or 7th century B.C.—the earliest period from which we have any contemporary record of its existence. But it is as yet impossible to determine either, on the one hand, whether the archaic inscription of Praeneste (see below), which is assigned with great probability to that epoch, represents exactly the language then spoken in Rome; or, on the other, over how much larger an area of the Italian peninsula, or even of the lands to the north and west, the same language may at that date have extended. In the 5th century B.C. we find its limits within the peninsula fixed on the north-west and south-west by Etruscan (see Etruria: Language); on the east, south-east, and probably north and north-east, by Safine (Sabine) dialects (of the Marsi, Paeligni, Samnites, Sabini and Picenum, qq.v.); but on the north we have no direct record of Sabine speech, nor of any non-Latinian tongue nearer than Tuder and Asculum or earlier than the 4th century B.C. (see Umbria, Iguvium, Picenum). We know however, both from tradition and from the archaeological data, that the Safine tribes were in the 5th century B.C. migrating, or at least sending off swarms of their younger folk, farther and farther southward into the peninsula. Of the languages they were then displacing we have no explicit record save in the case of Etruscan in Campania, but it may be reasonably inferred from the evidence of place-names and tribal names, combined with that of the Faliscan inscriptions, that before the Safine invasion some idiom, not remote from Latin, was spoken by the pre-Etruscan tribes down the length of the west coast (see Falisci; Volsci; also Rome: History; Liguria; Siculi).
2. Earliest Roman Inscriptions.—At Rome, at all events, it is clear from the unwavering voice of tradition that Latin was spoken from the beginning of the city. Of the earliest Latin inscriptions found in Rome which were known in 1909, the oldest, the so-called “Forum inscription,” can hardly be referred with confidence to an earlier century than the 5th; the later, the well-known Duenos ( = later Latin bonus) inscription, certainly belongs to the 4th; both of these are briefly described below (§§ 40, 41). At this date we have probably the period of the narrowest extension of Latin; non-Latin idioms were spoken in Etruria, Umbria, Picenum and in the Marsian and Volscian hills. But almost directly the area begins to expand again, and after the war with Pyrrhus the Roman arms had planted the language of Rome in her military colonies throughout the peninsula. When we come to the 3rd century B.C. the Latin inscriptions begin to be more numerous, and in them (e.g. the oldest epitaphs of the Scipio family) the language is very little removed from what it was in the time of Plautus.
3. The Italic Group of Languages.—For the characteristics
and affinities of the dialects that have just been mentioned, see
the article Italy: Ancient Languages and Peoples, and to the
separate articles on the tribes. Here it is well to point out that
the only one of these languages which is not akin to Latin is
Etruscan; on the other hand, the only one very closely resembling
Latin is Faliscan, which with it forms what we may call the
Latinian dialect of the Italic group of the Indo-European family
of languages. Since, however, we have a far more complete
knowledge of Latin than of any other member of the Italic
group, this is the most convenient place in which to state briefly
the very little tha
n can be said as yet to have been ascertained
as to the general relations of Italic to its sister groups. Here,
as in many kindred questions, the work of Paul Kretschmer of
Vienna (Einleitung in die Geschichte der griechischen Sprache,
Göttingen, 1896) marked an important epoch in the historical
aspects of linguistic study, as the first scientific attempt to
interpret critically the different kinds of evidence which the
Indo-European languages give us, not in vocabulary merely,
but in phonology, morphology, and especially in their mutual
borrowings, and to combine it with the non-linguistic data of
tradition and archaeology. A certain number of the results so
obtained have met with general acceptance and may be briefly
treated here. It is, however, extremely dangerous to draw
merely from linguistic kinship deductions as to racial identity,
or even as to an original contiguity of habitation. Close resemblances
in any two languages, especially those in their inner
structure (morphology), may be due to identity of race, or to long
neighbourhood in the earliest period of their development; but
they may also be caused by temporary neighbourhood (for a
longer or shorter period), brought about by migrations at a later
epoch (or epochs). A particular change in sound or usage may
spread over a whole chain of dialects and be in the end exhibited
alike by them all, although the time at which it first began was
long after their special and distinctive characteristics had
become clearly marked. For example, the limitation of the
word-accent to the last three syllables of a word in Latin and
Oscan (see below)—a phenomenon which has left deep marks
on all the Romance languages—demonstrably grew up between
the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C.; and it is a permissible conjecture
that it started from the influence of the Greek colonies in Italy
(especially Cumae and Naples), in whose language the same
limitation (although with an accent whose actual character was
probably more largely musical) had been established some
4. Position of the Italic Group.—The Italic group, then, when compared with the other seven main “families” of Indo-European speech, in respect of their most significant differences, ranges itself thus:
(i.) Back-palatal and Velar Sounds.—In point of its treatment of the Indo-European back-palatal and velar sounds, it belongs to the western or centum group, the name of which is, of course, taken from Latin; that is to say, like German, Celtic and Greek, it did not sibilate original k and g, which in Indo-Iranian, Armenian, Slavonic and Albanian have been converted into various types of sibilants (Ind.-Eur.* km̥tom = Lat. centum, Gr. (ἑ)-κατόν, Welsh cant, Eng. hund-(red), but Sans. ṧatam, Zend satəm); but, on the other hand, in company with just the same three western groups, and in contrast to the eastern, the Italic languages labialized the original velars (Ind.-Eur. * qod = Lat. quod, Osc. pod, Gr. ποδ-(απός), Welsh pwy, Eng. what, but Sans. kás, “who?”).
(ii.) Indo-European Aspirates.—Like Greek and Sanskrit, but in contrast to all the other groups (even to Zend and Armenian), the Italic group largely preserves a distinction between the Indo-European mediae aspiratae and mediae (e.g. between Ind.-Eur. dh and d, the former when initial becoming initially regularly Lat. f as in Lat. fēc-ī [cf. Umb. feia, “faciat”], beside Gr. ἔ-θηκ-α [cf. Sans. da-dhā-ti, “he places”], the latter simply d as in domus, Gr. δόμος). But the aspiratae, even where thus distinctly treated in Italic, became fricatives, not pure aspirates, a character which they only retained in Greek and Sanskrit.
(iii.) Indo-European ŏ.—With Greek and Celtic, Latin preserved the Indo-European ŏ, which in the more northerly groups (Germanic, Balto-Slavonic), and also in Indo-Iranian, and, curiously, in Messapian, was confused with ă. The name for olive-oil, which spread with the use of this commodity from Greek (ἔλαιϝον) to Italic speakers and thence to the north, becoming by regular changes (see below) in Latin first *ólaivom, then *óleivom, and then taken into Gothic and becoming alēv, leaving its parent form to change further (not later than 100 B.C.) in Latin to oleum, is a particularly important example, because (a) of the chronological limits which are implied, however roughly, in the process just described, and (b) of the close association in time of the change of o to a with the earlier stages of the “sound-shifting” (of the Indo-European plosives and aspirates) in German; see Kretschmer, Einleit. p. 116, and the authorities he cites.
(iv.) Accentuation.—One marked innovation common to the western groups as compared with what Greek and Sanskrit show to have been an earlier feature of the Indo-European parent speech was the development of a strong expiratory (sometimes called stress) accent upon the first syllable of all words. This appears early in the history of Italic, Celtic, Lettish (probably, and at a still later period) in Germanic, though at a period later than the beginning of the “sound-shifting.” This extinguished the complex system of Indo-European accentuation, which is directly reflected in Sanskrit, and was itself replaced in Latin and Oscan by another system already mentioned, but not in Latin till it had produced marked effects upon the language (e.g. the degradation of the vowels in compounds as in cōnficio from cón-facio, inclūdo from ín-claudo). This curious wave of accentual change (first pointed out by Dieterich, Kuhn’s Zeitschrift, i., and later by Thurneysen, Revue celtique, vi. 312, Rheinisches Museum, xliii. 349) needs and deserves to be more closely investigated from a chronological standpoint. At present it is not clear how far it was a really connected process in all the languages. (See further Kretschmer, op. cit. p. 115, K. Brugmann, Kurze vergleichende Grammatik (1902–1904), p. 57, and their citations, especially Meyer-Lübke, Die Betonung im Gallischen (1901).)
To these larger affinities may be added some important points in which the Italic group shows marked resemblances to other groups.
5. Italic and Celtic.—It is now universally admitted that the Celtic languages stand in a much closer relation than any other group to the Italic. It may even be doubted whether there was any real frontier-line at all between the two groups before the Etruscan invasion of Italy (see Etruria: Language; Liguria). The number of morphological innovations on the Indo-European system which the two groups share, and which are almost if not wholly peculiar to them, is particularly striking. Of these the chief are the following.
(i.) Extension of the abstract-noun stems in -ti- (like Greek φάτις with Attic βάσις, &c.) by an -n- suffix, as in Lat. mentio (stem menti-ōn-) = Ir. (er-)mitiu (stem miti-n-), contrasted with the same word without the n-suffix in Sans. mati-, Lat. mens, Ind.-Eur. *mn̥-ti-. A similar extension (shared also by Gothic) appears in Lat. iuventū-t-, O. Ir. óitiu (stem oiliūt-) beside the simple -tu- in nouns like senātus.
(ii.) Superlative formation in -is-m̥mo- as in Lat. aegerrimus for *aegr-ism̥mos, Gallic Οὐξισάμη the name of a town meaning “the highest.”
(iii.) Genitive singular of the o-stems (second declension) in -ī Lat. agri, O. Ir. (Ogam inscriptions) magi, “of a son.”
(iv.) Passive and deponent formation in -r, Lat. sequitur = Ir. sechedar, “he follows.” The originally active meaning of this curious -r suffix was first pointed out by Zimmer (Kuhn’s Zeitschrift, 1888, xxx. 224), who thus explained the use of the accusative pronouns with these “passive” forms in Celtic; Ir. -m-berar, “I am carried,” literally “folk carry me”; Umb. pir ferar, literally ignem feratur, though as pir is a neuter word ( = Gr. πῦρ) this example was not so convincing. But within a twelvemonth of the appearance of Zimmer’s article, an Oscan inscription (Conway, Camb. Philol. Society’s Proceedings, 1890, p. 16, and Italic Dialects, p. 113) was discovered containing the phrase ůltiumam (iůvilam) sakrafi̊r, “ultimam (imaginem) consecraverint” (or “ultima consecretur”) which demonstrated the nature of the suffix in Italic also. This originally active meaning of the -r form (in the third person singular passive) is the cause of the remarkable fondness for the “impersonal” use of the passive in Latin (e.g., itur in antiquam silvam, instead of eunt), which was naturally extended to all tenses of the passive (ventum est, &c.), so soon as its origin was forgotten. Fuller details of the development will be found in Conway, op. cit. p. 561, and the authorities there cited (very little is added by K. Brugmann, Kurze vergl. Gramm. 1904, p. 596).
(v.) Formation of the perfect passive from the -to- past participle, Lat. monitus (est), &c., Ir. léic-the, “he was left,” ro-léiced, “he has been left.” In Latin the participle maintains its distinct adjectival character; in Irish (J. Strachan, Old Irish Paradigms, 1905, p. 50) it has sunk into a purely verbal form, just as the perfect participles in -us in Umbrian have been absorbed into the future perfect in -ust (entelust, “intenderit”; benust, “venerit”) with its impersonal passive or third plural active -us(s)so (probably standing for -ussor) as in benuso, “ventum erit” (or “venerint”).
To these must be further added some striking peculiarities in phonology.
(vi.) Assimilation of p to a qṷ in a following syllable as in Lat. quinque = Ir. cóic, compared with Sans. pánca, Gr. πέντε, Eng. five, Ind.-Eur. *penqe.
(vii.) Finally—and perhaps this parallelism is the most important of all from the historical standpoint—both Italic and Celtic are divided into two sub-families which differ, and differ in the same way, in their treatment of the Ind.-Eur. velar tenuis q. In both halves of each group it was labialized to some extent; in one half of each group it was labialized so far as to become p. This is the great line of cleavage (i.) between Latinian (Lat. quod, quandō, quinque; Falisc. cuando) and Osco-Umbrian, better called Safine (Osc. pod, Umb. panū- [for *pandō], Osc.-Umb. pompe-, “five,” in Osc. půmperias “nonae,” Umb. pumped̠̣ia-, “fifth day of the month”); and (ii.) between Goidelic (Gaelic) (O. Ir. cóic, “five,” maq, “son”; modern Irish and Scotch Mac as in MacPherson) and Brythonic (Britannic) (Welsh pump, “five,” Ap for map, as in Powel for Ap Howel).
The same distinction appears elsewhere; Germanic belongs, broadly described, to the q-group, and Greek, broadly described, to the p-group. The ethnological bearing of the distinction within Italy is considered in the articles Sabini and Volsci; but the wider questions which the facts suggest have as yet been only scantily discussed; see the references for the “Sequanian” dialect of Gallic (in the inscription of Coligny, whose language preserves q) in the article Celts: Language.
From these primitive affinities we must clearly distinguish the numerous words taken into Latin from the Celts of north Italy within the historic period; for these see especially an interesting study by J. Zwicker, De vocabulis et rebus Gallicis sive Transpadanis apud Vergilium (Leipzig dissertation, 1905).
6. Greek and Italic.—We have seen above (§ 4, i., ii., iii.) certain broad characteristics which the Greek and the Italic groups of language have in common. The old question of the degree of their affinity may be briefly noticed. There are deep-seated differences in morphology, phonology and vocabulary between the two languages—such as (a) the loss of the forms of the ablative in Greek and of the middle voice in Latin; (b) the decay of the fricatives (s, v, i̭) in Greek and the cavalier treatment of the aspirates in Latin; and (c) the almost total discrepancy of the vocabularies of law and religion in the two languages—which altogether forbid the assumption that the two groups can ever have been completely identical after their first dialectic separation from the parent language. On the other hand, in the first early periods of that dialectic development in the Indo-European family, the precursors of Greek and Italic cannot have been separated by any very wide boundary. To this primitive neighbourhood may be referred such peculiarities as (a) the genitive plural feminine ending in -āsōm (Gr. -άων, later in various dialects -έων, -ῶν, -ᾶν; cf. Osc. egmazum “rerum”; Lat. mensarum, with -r- from -s-), (b) the feminine gender of many nouns of the -o- declension, cf. Gr. ἡ ὁδὸς, Lat. haec fāgus; and some important and ancient syntactical features, especially in the uses of the cases (e.g. (c) the genitive of price) of the (d) infinitive and of the (e) participles passive (though in each case the forms differ widely in the two groups), and perhaps (f ) of the dependent moods (though here again the forms have been vigorously reshaped in Italic). These syntactic parallels, which are hardly noticed by Kretschmer in his otherwise careful discussion (Einleit. p. 155 seq.), serve to confirm his general conclusion which has been here adopted; because syntactic peculiarities have a long life and may survive not merely complete revolutions in morphology, but even a complete change in the speaker’s language, e.g. such Celticisms in Irish-English as “What are you after doing?” for “What have you done?” or in Welsh-English as “whatever” for “anyhow.” A few isolated correspondences in vocabulary, as in remus from *ret-s-mo-, with ἐρετμός and in a few plant-names (e.g. πράσον and porrum), cannot disturb the general conclusion, though no doubt they have some historical significance, if it could be determined.
7. Indo-Iranian and Italo-Celtic.—Only a brief reference can here be made to the striking list of resemblances between the Indo-Iranian and Italo-Celtic groups, especially in vocabulary, which Kretschmer has collected (ibid. pp. 126-144). The most striking of these are rēx, O. Ir. rīg-, Sans. rāj-, and the political meaning of the same root in the corresponding verb in both languages (contrast regere with the merely physical meaning of Gr. ὀρέγνυμι); Lat. flāmen (for *flag-men) exactly = Sans. brahman- (neuter), meaning probably “sacrificing,” “worshipping,” and then “priesthood,” “priest,” from the Ind.-Eur. root *bhelgh-, “blaze,” “make to blaze”; rēs, rem exactly = Sans. rās, rām in declension and especially in meaning; and Ārio-, “noble,” in Gallic Ariomanus, &c., = Sans. ārya-, “noble” (whence “Aryan”). So argentum exactly = Sans. rajata-, Zend erezata-; contrast the different (though morphologically kindred) suffix in Gr. ἄργυρος. Some forty-two other Latin or Celtic words (among them crēdere, caesariēs, probus, castus (cf. Osc. kasit, Lat. caret, Sans. šiṣta-), Volcānus, Neptūnus, ensis, erus, pruina, rūs, novācula) have precise Sanskrit or Iranian equivalents, and none so near in any other of the eight groups of languages. Finally the use of an -r suffix in the third plural is common to both Italo-Celtic (see above) and Indo-Iranian. These things clearly point to a fairly close, and probably in part political, intercourse between the two communities of speakers at some early epoch. A shorter, but interesting, list of correspondences in vocabulary with Balto-Slavonic (e.g. the words mentīrī, rōs, ignis have close equivalents in Balto-Slavonic) suggests that at the same period the precursor of this dialect too was a not remote neighbour.
8. Date of the Separation of the Italic Group.—The date at which the Italic group of languages began to have (so far as it had at all) a separate development of its own is at present only a matter of conjecture. But the combination of archaeological and linguistic research which has already begun can have no more interesting object than the approximate determination of this date (or group of dates); for it will give us a point of cardinal importance in the early history of Europe. The only consideration which can here be offered as a starting-point for the inquiry is the chronological relation of the Etruscan invasion, which is probably referable to the 12th century B.C. (see Etruria), to the two strata of Indo-European population—the -CO- folk (Falisci, Marruci, Volsci, Hernici and others), to whom the Tuscan invaders owe the names Etrusci and Tusci, and the -NO- folk, who, on the West coast, in the centre and south of Italy, appear at a distinctly later epoch, in some places (as in the Bruttian peninsula, see Bruttii) only at the beginning of our historical record. If the view of Latin as mainly the tongue of the -CO- folk prove to be correct (see Rome: History; Italy: Ancient Languages and Peoples; Sabini; Volsci) we must regard it (a) as the southern or earlier half of the Italic group, firmly rooted in Italy in the 12th century B.C., but (b) by no means yet isolated from contact with the northern or later half; such is at least the suggestion of the striking peculiarities in morphology which it shares with not merely Oscan and Umbrian, but also, as we have seen, with Celtic. The progress in time of this isolation ought before long to be traced with some approach to certainty.
The History of Latin
9. We may now proceed to notice the chief changes that arose in Latin after the (more or less) complete separation of the Italic group whenever it came about. The contrasted features of Oscan and Umbrian, to some of which, for special reasons, occasional reference will be here made, are fully described under Osca Lingua and Iguvium respectively.
It is rarely possible to fix with any precision the date at which a particular change began or was completed, and the most serviceable form for this conspectus of the development will be to present, under the heads of Phonology, Morphology and Syntax, the chief characteristics of Ciceronian Latin which we know to have been developed after Latin became a separate language. Which of these changes, if any, can be assigned to a particular period will be seen as we proceed. But it should be remembered that an enormous increase of exact knowledge has accrued from the scientific methods of research introduced by A. Leskien and K. Brugmann in 1879, and finally established by Brugmann’s great Grundriss in 1886, and that only a brief enumeration can be here attempted. For adequate study reference must be made to the fuller treatises quoted, and especially to the sections bearing on Latin in K. Brugmann’s Kurze vergleichende Grammatik (1902).
10. The Latin Accent.—It will be convenient to begin with some account of the most important discovery made since the application of scientific method to the study of Latin, for, though it is not strictly a part of phonology, it is wrapped up with much of the development both of the sounds and, by consequence, of the inflexions. It has long been observed (as we have seen § 4, iv. above) that the restriction of the word-accent in Latin to the last three syllables of the word, and its attachment to a long syllable in the penult, were certainly not its earliest traceable condition; between this, the classical system, and the comparative freedom with which the word-accent was placed in pro-ethnic Indo-European, there had intervened a period of first-syllable accentuation to which were due many of the characteristic contractions of Oscan and Umbrian, and in Latin the degradation of the vowels in such forms as accentus from ad+cantus or praecipitem from prae+caput- (§ 19 below). R. von Planta (Osk.-Umbr. Grammatik, 1893, i. p. 594) pointed out that in Oscan also, by the 3rd century B.C., this first-syllable-accent had probably given way to a system which limited the word-accent in some such way as in classical Latin. But it remained for C. Exon, in a brilliant article (Hermathena (1906), xiv. 117, seq.), to deduce from the more precise stages of the change (which had been gradually noted, see e.g. F. Skutsch in Kroll’s Altertumswissenschaft letzten Vierteljahrhundert, 1905) their actual effect on the language.
11. Accent in Time of Plautus.—The rules which have been established for the position of the accent in the time of Plautus are these:
|(i.)||The quantity of the final syllable had no effect on accent.|
|(ii.)||If the penult was long, it bore the accent (amābā́mus).|
|(iii.)||If the penult was short, then|
|(a)||if the ante-penult was long, it bore the accent (amā́bimus);|
|(b)||if the ante-penult was short, then|
|(i.)||if the ante-ante-penult was long, the accent was on the ante-penult (amīcítia); but|
|(ii.)||if the ante-ante-penult was also short, it bore the accent (cólumine, puéritia).|
Exon’s Laws of Syncope.—With these facts are now linked what may be called Exon’s Laws, viz:—
In pre-Plautine Latin in all words or word-groups of four or more syllables whose chief accent is on one long syllable, a short unaccented medial vowel was syncopated; thus *quínquedecem became *quínqdecem and thence quíndecim (for the -im see § 19), *súps-emere became *súpsmere and that sūmere (on -psm- v. inf.) *súrregere, *surregḗmus, and the like became surgere, surgḗmus, and the rest of the paradigm followed; so probably validē̇ bonus became valdḗ bonus, exterā́ viam became extrā́ viam; so *supo-téndo became subtendo (pronounced sup-tendo), *āridḗre, *avidḗre (from āridus, avidus) became ārdḗre, audḗre. But the influence of cognate forms often interfered; posterī́-diē became postrī́diē, but in posterṓrum, posterā́rum the short syllable was restored by the influence of the trisyllabic cases, pósterus, pósterī, &c., to which the law did not apply. Conversely, the nom. *ā́ridor (more correctly at this period *āridōs), which would not have been contracted, followed the form of ārdṓrem (from *āridṓrem), ārdḗre, &c.
The same change produced the monosyllabic forms nec, ac, neu, seu, from neque, &c., before consonants, since they had no accent of their own, but were always pronounced in one breath with the following word, neque tántum becoming nec tantum, and the like. So in Plautus (and probably always in spoken Latin) the words nemp(e), ind(e), quipp(e), ill(e), are regularly monosyllables.
12. Syncope of Final Syllables.—It is possible that the frequent but far from universal syncope of final syllables in Latin (especially before -s, as in mēns, which represents both Gr. μένος and Sans. matís = Ind.-Eur. mn̥tís, Eng. mind) is due also to this law operating on such combinations as bona mēns and the like, but this has not yet been clearly shown. In any case the effects of any such phonetic change have been very greatly modified by analogical changes. The Oscan and Umbrian syncope of short vowels before final s seems to be an independent change, at all events in its detailed working. The outbreak of the unconscious affection of slurring final syllables may have been contemporaneous.
13. In post-Plautine Latin words accented on the ante-antepenult:—
(i.) suffered syncope in the short syllable following the accented syllable (bálineae became bálneae, puéritia became puértia (Horace), cólumine, tégimine, &c., became cúlmine, tégmine, &c., beside the trisyllabic cólumen, tégimen) unless
(ii.) that short vowel was e or i, followed by another vowel (as in párietem, múlierem, Púteoli), when, instead of contraction, the accent shifted to the penult, which at a later stage of the language became lengthened, pariétem giving Ital. parḗte, Fr. paroi, Puteóli giving Ital. Pozzuṓli.
The restriction of the accent to the last three syllables was completed by these changes, which did away with all the cases in which it had stood on the fourth syllable.
14. The Law of the Brevis Brevians.—Next must be mentioned another great phonetic change, also dependent upon accent, which had come about before the time of Plautus, the law long known to students as the Brevis Brevians, which may be stated as follows (Exon, Hermathena (1903), xii. 491, following Skutsch in, e.g., Vollmöller’s Jahresbericht für romanische Sprachwissenschaft, i. 33): a syllable long by nature or position, and preceded by a short syllable, was itself shortened if the word-accent fell immediately before or immediately after it—that is, on the preceding short syllable or on the next following syllable. The sequence of syllables need not be in the same word, but must be as closely connected in utterance as if it were. Thus mṓdō became módŏ, vŏlūptā́tēm became vŏlŭ(p)tā́tem, quī́d ēst? became quid ĕst? either the s or the t or both being but faintly pronounced.
It is clear that a great number of flexional syllables so shortened would have their quantity immediately restored by the analogy of the same inflexion occurring in words not of this particular shape; thus, for instance, the long vowel of ā́mā and the like is due to that in other verbs (pulsā, agitā) not of iambic shape. So ablatives like modö, sonō get back their -ō, while in particles like modo, “only,” quōmodo, “how,” the shortened form remains. Conversely, the shortening of the final -a in the nom. sing. fem. of the a-declension (contrast lūnă with Gr. χωρᾱ́) was probably partly due to the influence of common forms like eă, bonă, mală, which had come under the law.
15. Effect on Verb Inflexion.—These processes had far-reaching effects on Latin inflexion. The chief of these was the creation of the type of conjugation known as the capio-class. All these verbs were originally inflected like audio, but the accident of their short root-syllable, (in such early forms as *fúgīs, *fugītū́rus, *fugīsḗtis, &c., becoming later fúgĭs, fugĭtū́rus, fugĕrḗtis) brought great parts of their paradigm under this law, and the rest followed suit; but true forms like fugīre, cupīre, morīri, never altogether died out of the spoken language. St Augustine, for instance, confessed in 387 A.D. (Epist. iii. 5, quoted by Exon, Hermathena (1901), xi. 383,) that he does not know whether cupi or cupiri is the pass. inf. of cupio. Hence we have Ital. fuggīre, morīre, Fr. fuir, mourir. (See further on this conjugation, C. Exon, l.c., and F. Skutsch, Archiv für lat. Lexicographie, xii. 210, two papers which were written independently.)
16. The question has been raised how far the true phonetic shortening appears in Plautus, produced not by word-accent but by metrical ictus—e.g. whether the reading is to be trusted in such lines as Amph. 761, which gives us dedisse as the first foot (tribrach) of a trochaic line “because the metrical ictus fell on the syllable ded-”—but this remarkable theory cannot be discussed here. See the articles cited and also F. Skutsch, Forschungen zu Latein. Grammatik und Metrik, i. (1892); C. Exon, Hermathena (1903) xii. p. 492, W. M. Lindsay, Captivi (1900), appendix.
In the history of the vowels and diphthongs in Latin we must distinguish the changes which came about independently of accent and those produced by the preponderance of accent in another syllable.
17. Vowel Changes independent of Accent.—In the former category the following are those of chief importance:—
(i.) ĭ became ĕ (a) when final, as in ant-e beside Gr. ἀντί, trīste besides trīsti-s, contrasted with e.g., the Greek neuter ἴδρι (the final -e of the infinitive—regere, &c.—is the -ĭ of the locative, just as in the so-called ablatives genere, &c.); (b) before -r- which has arisen from -s-, as in cineris beside cinis, cinisculus; serō beside Gr. ἴ(σ)ημι (Ind.-Eur. *si-sēmi, a reduplicated non-thematic present).
(ii.) Final ŏ became ĕ; imperative sequere = Gr. ἔπε(σ)ο; Lat. ille may contain the old pronoun *so, “he,” Gr. ὁ, Sans. sa (otherwise Skutsch, Glotta, i. Hefte 2-3).
(iii.) el became ol when followed by any sound save e, i or l, as in volō, volt beside velle; colō beside Gr. τέλλομαι, πολεῖν, Att. τέλος; colōnus for *quelōnus, beside inquilīnus for *en-quēlenus.
(iv.) e became i (i.) before a nasal followed by a palatal or velar consonant (tingo, Gr. τέγγω; in-cipio from *en-capio); (ii.) under certain conditions not yet precisely defined, one of which was i in a following syllable (nihil, nisi, initium). From these forms in- spread and banished en-, the earlier form.
(v.) The “neutral vowel” (“schwa Indo-Germanicum”) which arose in pro-ethnic Indo-European from the reduction of long ā, ē or ō in unaccented syllables (as in the -tós participles of such roots as stā-, dhē-, dō-, *stətós, *dhətós, *dətós) became a in Latin (status con-ditus [from *con-dhatos], datus), and it is the same sound which is represented by a in most of the forms of dō (damus, dabō, &c.).
(vi.) When a long vowel came to stand before another vowel in the same word through loss of i̭ or ṷ, it was always shortened; thus the -eō of intransitive verbs like candeō, caleō is for -ēi̭ō (where the ē is identical with the η in Gr. ἐφάνην, ἐμάνην) and was thus confused with the causative -eiō (as in moneō, “I make to think,” &c.), where the short e is original. So audīuī became audīī and thence audiī (the form audīvī would have disappeared altogether but for being restored from audīveram, &c.; conversely audieram is formed from audiī). In certain cases the vowels contracted, as in trēs, partēs, &c. with -ēs from ei̭es, *amō from amā(i̭)ō.
18. Of the Diphthongs.
(vii.) eu became ou in pro-ethnic Italic, Lat. novus: Gr. νέος, Lat. novem, Umb. nuviper (i.e. noviper), “usque ad Changes of the diphthongs independent of accent. noviens”: Gr. (ἐν-)νέα; in unaccented syllables this -ov- sank to -u(v)- as in dḗnuō from dḗ novō, suus (which is rarely anything but an enclitic word), Old Lat. sovos: Gr. ἑ(ϝ)ός.
(viii.) ou, whether original or from eu, when in one syllable became -ū-, probably about 200 B.C., as in dūcō, Old Lat. doucō, Goth, tiuhan, Eng. tow, Ind.-Eur. *deṷcō.
(ix.) ei became ī (as in dīcō, Old Lat. deico: Gr. δείκ-νυμι, fīdo: Gr. πείθομαι, Ind.-Eur. *bheidhō) just before the time of Lucilius, who prescribes the spellings puerei (nom. plur.) but puerī (gen. sing.), which indicates that the two forms were pronounced alike in his time, but that the traditional distinction in spelling had been more or less preserved. But after his time, since the sound of ei was merely that of ī, ei is continually used merely to denote a long ī, even where, as in faxeis for faxīs, there never had been any diphthongal sound at all.
(x.) In rustic Latin (Volscian and Sabine) au became ō as in the vulgar terms explōdere, plōstrum. Hence arose interesting doublets of meaning;—lautus (the Roman form), “elegant,” but lōtus, “washed”; haustus, “draught,” but hōstus (Cato), “the season’s yield of fruit.”
(xi.) oi became oe and thence ū some time after Plautus, as in ūnus, Old Lat. oenus: Gr. οἰνή “ace.” In Plautus the forms have nearly all been modernized, save in special cases, e.g. in Trin. i. 1, 2, immoene facinus, “a thankless task,” has not been changed to immune because that meaning had died out of the adjective so that immune facinus would have made nonsense; but at the end of the same line utile has replaced oetile. Similarly in a small group of words the old form was preserved through their frequent use in legal or religious documents where tradition was strictly preserved—poena, foedus (neut.), foedus (adj.), “ill-omened.” So the archaic and poetical moenia, “ramparts,” beside the true classical form mūnia, “duties”; the historic Poeni beside the living and frequently used Pūnicum (bellum)—an example which demonstrates conclusively (pace Sommer) that the variation between ū and oe is not due to any difference in the surrounding sounds.
(xii.) ai became ae and this in rustic and later Latin (2nd or 3rd century A.D.) simple ē, though of an open quality—Gr. αἴθος, αἴθω, Lat. aedēs (originally “the place for the fire”); the country forms of haedus, praetor were edus, pretor (Varro, Ling. Lat. v. 97, Lindsay, Lat. Lang. p. 44).
19. Vowels and Diphthongs in unaccented Syllables.—The changes of the short vowels and of the diphthongs in unaccented syllables are too numerous and complex to be set forth here. Some took place under the first-syllable system of accent, some later (§§ 9, 10). Typical examples are pepErci from *péparcai and ónustus from *ónostos (before two consonants); concIno from *cóncano and hospItIs from *hóstipotes, legImus beside Gr. λέγομεν (before one consonant); SicUli from *Siceloi (before a thick l, see § 17, 3); dilIgIt from *dísleget (contrast, however, the preservation of the second e in neglEgIt); occUpat from *opcapat (contrast accipit with i in the following syllable); the varying spelling in monumentum and monimentum, maxumus and maximus, points to an intermediate sound (ü) between u and i (cf. Quint. i. 4. 8, reading optumum and optimum [not opimum] with W. M. Lindsay, Latin Language §§ 14, 16, seq.), which could not be correctly represented in spelling; this difference may, however, be due merely to the effect of differences in the neighbouring sounds, an effect greatly obscured by analogical influences.
Inscriptions of the 4th or 3rd century, B.C. which show original -es and -os in final syllables (e.g. Venerĕs, gen. sing., nāvebos abl. pl.) compared with the usual forms in -is, -us a century later, give us roughly the date of these changes. But final -os, -om, remained after -u- (and v) down to 50 B.C. as in servos.
20. Special mention should be made of the change of -rĭ- and -ro- to -er- (incertus from *encritos; ager, ācer from *agros, *ācris; the feminine ācris was restored in Latin (though not in North Oscan) by the analogy of other adjectives, like tristis, while the masculine ācer was protected by the parallel masculine forms of the -o- declension, like tener, niger [from *teneros, *nigros]).
21. Long vowels generally remained unchanged, as in compāgo, condōno.
22. Of the diphthongs, ai and oi both sank to ei, and with original ei further to ī, in unaccented syllables, as in Achivi from Gr. Ἀχαιϝοί, olīivom, earlier *oleivom (borrowed into Gothic and there becoming alēv) from Gr. ἔλαιϝον. This gives us interesting chronological data, since the el- must have changed to ol- (§ 16. 3) before the change of -ai- to -ei-, and that before the change of the accent from the first syllable to the penultimate (§ 9); and the borrowing took place after -ai- had become -ei-, but before -eivom had become -eum, as it regularly did before the time of Plautus.
But cases of ai, ae, which arose later than the change to ei, ī, were unaffected by it; thus the nom. plur. of the first declension originally ended in -ās (as in Oscan), but was changed at some period before Plautus to -ae by the influence of the pronominal nom. plur. ending -ae in quae? hae, &c., which was accented in these monosyllables and had therefore been preserved. The history of the -ae of the dative, genitive and locative is hardly yet clear (see Exon, Hermathena (1905), xiii. 555; K. Brugmann, Grundriss, 1st ed. ii. 571, 601).
The diphthongs au, ou in unaccented syllables sank to -u-, as in inclūdō beside claudō; the form clūdō, taken from the compounds, superseded claudo altogether after Cicero’s time. So cūdō, taken from incūdō, excūdō, banished the older *caudō, “I cut, strike,” with which is probably connected cauda, “the striking member, tail,” and from which comes caussa, “a cutting, decision, legal case,” whose -ss- shows that it is derived from a root ending in a dental (see §25 (b) below and Conway, Verner’s Law in Italy, p. 72).
Consonants.—Passing now to the chief changes of the consonants we may notice the following points:—
23. Consonant i (wrongly written j; there is no g-sound in the letter), conveniently written i̭ by phoneticians,
(i.) was lost between vowels, as in trēs for *trei̭es, &c. (§ 17. 6);
(ii.) in combination: -mi̭- became -ni-, as in veniö, from Ind.-Eur. *Ƨṷ mi̭o, “I come,” Sans. gam-, Eng. come; -ni̭- probably (under certain conditions at least) became -nd-, as in tendō beside Gr. τείνω, fendō = Gr. θείνω, and in the gerundive stem -endus, -undus, probably for -eni̭os, -oni̭os; cf. the Sanskrit gerundive in -an-īya-s; -gi̭-, -di̭- became -i̭- as in māior from *mag-ior, pēior from *ped-ior;
(iii.) otherwise -i̭- after a consonant became generally syllabic (-ii̭-), as in capiō (trisyllabic) beside Goth. hafya.
24. Consonant u (formerly represented by English v), conveniently written ṷ,
(i.) was lost between similar vowels when the first was accented, as in audīui, which became audiī (§ 17 ), but not in amāuī, nor in avārus.
(ii.) in combination: dṷ became b, as in bonus, bellum, O. Lat. dṷonus, *dṷellum (though the poets finding this written form in old literary sources treated it as trisyllabic); pṷ-, fṷ-, bṷ-, lost the ṷ, as in ap-erio, op-erio beside Lith. -veriu, “I open,” Osc. veru, “gate,” and in the verbal endings -bam, -bō, from -bhṷ-ām, -bhṷō (with the root of Lat. fui), and fīo, du-bius, super-bus, vasta-bundus, &c., from the same; -sṷ- between vowels (at least when the second was accented) disappeared (see below § 25 (a), iv.), as in pruīna for prusuīna, cf. Eng. fros-t, Sans, pruṣvā, “hoar-frost.” Contrast Minérva from an earlier *menes-ṷā, sṷe-, sṷo-, both became so-, as in sorōor(em) beside Sans. svasār-am, Ger. schwes-t-er, Eng. sister, sordēs, beside O. Ger. swart-s, mod. schwarz. -ṷo- in final syllables became -u-, as in cum from quom, parum from parṷom; but in the declensional forms -ṷu- was commonly restored by the analogy of the other cases, thus (a) serṷos, serṷom, serṷī became (b) *serus, *serum, *serṷi, but finally (c) serṷus, serṷum, serṷi.
(iii.) In the 2nd century A.D., Lat. v (i.e. ṷ) had become a voiced labio-dental fricative, like Eng. v; and the voiced labial plosive b had broken down (at least in certain positions) into the same sound; hence they are frequently confused as in spellings like vene for bene, Bictorinus for Victorinus.
25. (a) Latin s
(i.) became r between vowels between 450 and 350 B.C. (for the date see R. S. Conway, Verner’s Law in Italy, pp. 61-64), as āra, beside O. Lat. āsa, generis from *geneses, Gr. γένεος; eram, erō for *esām, *esō, and so in the verbal endings -erām, -erō, -erim. But a considerable number of words came into Latin, partly from neighbouring dialects, with -s- between vowels, after 350 B.C., when the change ceased, and so show -s-, as rosa (probably from S. Oscan for *rodi̭a “rose-bush” cf. Gr. ῥόδον), cāseus, “cheese,” miser, a term of abuse, beside Gr. μυσαρός (probably also borrowed from south Italy), and many more, especially the participles in -sus (fūsus), where the -s- was -ss- at the time of the change of -s- to -r- (so in causa, see above). All attempts to explain the retention of the -s- otherwise must be said to have failed (e.g. the theory of accentual difference in Verner’s Law in Italy, or that of dissimilation, given by Brugmann, Kurze vergl. Gram. p. 242).
(ii.) sr became þr ( = Eng. thr in throw) in pro-ethnic Italic, and this became initially fr- as in frīgus, Gr. ῥῖγος (Ind.-Eur. *srīgos), but medially -br-, as in funebris, from funus, stem funes-.
(iii.) -rs-, ls- became -rr-, -ll-, as in ferre, velle, for *fer-se, *vel-se (cf. es-se).
(iv.) Before m, n, l, and v, -s- vanished, having previously caused the loss of any preceding plosive or -n-, and the preceding vowel, if short, was lengthened as in
prīmus from *prismos, Paelig. prismu, “prima,” beside pris-cus.
iūmentum from O. Lat. iouxmentum, older *ieugsmentom; cf. Gr. ζεῦγμα, ζύγον, Lat. iugum, iungo.
lūna from *leucsnā-, Praenest, losna, Zend raoχsna-; cf. Gr. λεῦκος, “white-ness” neut. e.g. λευκός, “white,” Lat. lūceō.
tēlum from *tēns-lom or *tends-lom, trānāre from *trāns-nāre.
sēvirī from *sex-virī, ēvehō from *ex-vehō, and so ē-mittō, ē-līdō, ē-numerō, and from these forms arose the proposition ē instead of ex.
(v.) Similarly -sd- became -d-, as in īdem from is-dem.
(vi.) Before n-, m-, l-, initially s- disappeared, as in nūbo beside Old Church Slavonic snubiti, “to love, pay court to”; mīror beside Sans, smáyatē, “laughs,” Eng. smi-le; lūbricus beside Goth, sliupan, Eng. slip.
(b) Latin -ss- arose from an original -t + t-, -d + t-, -dh + t- (except before -r), as in missus, earlier *mit-tos; tōnsus, earlier *tond-tos, but tonstrīx from *tond-trīx. After long vowels this -ss- became a single -s- some time before Cicero (who wrote caussa [see above], divissio, &c., but probably only pronounced them with -s-, since the -ss- came to be written single directly after his time).
26. Of the Indo-European velars the breathed q was usually preserved in Latin with a labial addition of -ṷ- (as in sequor, Gr. ἕπομαι, Goth, saihvan, Eng. see; quod, Gr. ποδ-(απός), Eng. what); but the voiced Ƨṷ remained (as -gu-) only after -n- (unguo beside Ir. imb, “butter”) and (as g) before r, l, and u (as in gravis, Gr. βαρύς; glans, Gr. βάλανος; legūmen, Gr. λοβός, λεβίνθος). Elsewhere it became v, as in veniō (see § 23, ii.), nūdus from *novedos, Eng. naked. Hence bōs (Sans. gāus, Eng. cow) must be regarded as a farmer’s word borrowed from one of the country dialects (e.g. Sabine); the pure Latin would be *vōs, and its oblique cases, e.g. acc. *vovem, would be inconveniently close in sound to the word for sheep ovem.
27. The treatment of the Indo-European voiced aspirates (bh, dh, ĝh Ƨh) in Latin is one of the most marked characteristics of the language, which separates it from all the other Italic dialects, since the fricative sounds, which represented the Indo-European aspirates in pro-ethnic Italic, remained fricatives medially if they remained at all in that position in Oscan and Umbrian, whereas in Latin they were nearly always changed into voiced explosives. Thus—
|Ind.-Eur. bh:||initially Lat. f- (ferō; Gr. φέρω).|
|medially Lat. -b- (tibi; Umb. tefe; Sans, tubhy-(am), “to thee”; the same suffix in Gr. βίη-φι, &c.).|
|Ind.-Eur. dh:||initially Lat. f- (fa-c-ere, fē-c-ī; Gr. θετός (instead of *θατός), ἔθη-κα).|
|medially -d- (medius; Osc. mefio-; Gr. μέσσος, μέσος from *μεθιος); except after u (iubēre beside iussus for *i̭udh-tos; Sans. yṓdhati, “rouses to battle”); before l (stabulum, but Umb. staflo-, with the suffix of Gr. οτέργηθρον, &c.); before or after r (verbum: Umb. verfale: Eng. word. Lat. glaber [v. inf].: Ger. glatt: Eng. glad).|
|Ind.-Eur. ĝh:||initially h- (humī: Gr. χαμαί); except before -u- (fundo: Gr. χέ(ϝ)ω, χύτρα).|
|medially -h- (veho: Gr. ἔχω, ὄχος; cf. Eng. wagon); except after -n- (fingere: Osc. feiho-, “wall”: Gr. θιγγάνω: Ind.-Eur. dheiĝh-, dhinĝh-); and before l (fīg(u)lus, from the same root).|
|Ind.-Eur gṷh:||initially f- (formus and furnus, “oven”, Gr. θερμός, θέρμη, cf. Ligurian Bormiō, “a place with hot springs,” Bormanus, “a god of hot springs”; fendō: Gr. θείνω, φόνος, πρόσ-φατος).|
|medially v, -gu- or -g- just as Ind.-Eur. Ƨṷ (ninguere, nivem beside Gr. νίφα, νείφει; frāgrāre beside Gr. ὀσφραίνομαι [ὀσ- for ods-, cf. Lat. odor], a reduplicated verb from a root Ƨṷhra-).|
For the “non-labializing velars” (Hostis, conGius, Glaber) reference must be made to the fuller accounts in the handbooks.
28. Authorities.—This summary account of the chief points in Latin phonology may serve as an introduction to its principles, and give some insight into the phonetic character of the language. For systematic study reference must be made to the standard books, Karl Brugmann, Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der Indo-Germanischen Sprachen (vol. i., Lautlehre, 2nd ed. Strassburg, 1897; Eng. trans. of ed. 1 by Joseph Wright, Strassburg, 1888) and his Kurze vergleichende Grammatik (Strassburg, 1902); these contain still by far the best accounts of Latin; Max Niederman, Précis de phonétique du Latin (Paris, 1906), a very convenient handbook, excellently planned; F. Sommer, Lateinische Laut- und Flexionslehre (Heidelberg, 1902), containing many new conjectures; W. M. Lindsay, The Latin Language (Oxford, 1894), translated into German (with corrections) by Nohl (Leipzig, 1897), a most valuable collection of material, especially from the ancient grammarians, but not always accurate in phonology; F. Stolz, vol. i. of a joint Historische Grammatik d. lat. Sprache by Blase, Landgraf, Stolz and others (Leipzig, 1894); Neue-Wagener, Formenlehre d. lat. Sprache (3 vols., 3rd ed. Leipzig, 1888, foll.); H. J. Roby’s Latin Grammar (from Plautus to Suetonius; London, 7th ed., 1896) contains a masterly collection of material, especially in morphology, which is still of great value. W. G. Hale and C. D. Buck’s Latin Grammar (Boston, 1903), though on a smaller scale, is of very great importance, as it contains the fruit of much independent research on the part of both authors; in the difficult questions of orthography it was, as late as 1907, the only safe guide.
In morphology the following are the most characteristic Latin innovations:—
29. In nouns.
(i.) The complete loss of the dual number, save for a survival in the dialect of Praeneste (C.I.L. xiv. 2891, = Conway, Ital. Dial. p. 285, where Q. k. Cestio Q. f. seems to be nom. dual); so C.I.L. xi. 67065, T. C. Vomanio, see W. Schulze, Lat. Eigennamen, p. 117.
(ii.) The introduction of new forms in the gen. sing, of the -o- stems (dominī), of the -ā- stems (mēnsae) and in the nom. plural of the same two declensions; innovations mostly derived from the pronominal declension.
(iii.) The development of an adverbial formation out of what was either an instrumental or a locative of the -o- stems, as in longē. And here may be added the other adverbial developments, in -m (palam, sensim) probably accusative, and -iter, which is simply the accusative of iter, “way,” crystallized, as is shown especially by the fact that though in the end it attached itself particularly to adjectives of the third declension (molliter), it appears also from adjectives of the second declension whose meaning made their combination with iter especially natural, such as longiter, firmiter, largiter (cf. English straightway, longways). The only objections to this derivation which had any real weight (see F. Skutsch, De nominibus no- suffixi ope formatis, 1890, pp. 4-7) have been removed by Exon’s Law (§ 11), which supplies a clear reason why the contracted type constanter arose in and was felt to be proper to Participial adverbs, while firmiter and the like set the type for those formed from adjectives.
(iv.) The development of the so-called fifth declension by a re-adjustment of the declension of the nouns formed with the suffix -iē-: ia- (which appears, for instance, in all the Greek feminine participles, and in a more abstract sense in words like māteriēs) to match the inflexion of two old root-nouns rēs and diēs, the stems of which were originally rēi̭- (Sans. rās, rāyas, cf. Lat. reor) and diēṷ-.
(v.) The disuse of the -ti- suffix in an abstract sense. The great number of nouns which Latin inherited formed with this suffix were either (1) marked as abstract by the addition of the further suffix -ōn- (as in natio beside the Gr. γνὴσι–ος, &c.) or else (2) confined to a concrete sense; thus vectis, properly “a carrying, lifting,” came to mean “pole, lever”; ratis, properly a “reckoning, devising,” came to mean “an (improvised) raft” (contrast ratiō); postis, a “placing,” came to mean “post.”
(vi.) The confusion of the consonantal stems with stems ending in -ĭ-. This was probably due very largely to the forms assumed through phonetic changes by the gen. sing. and the nom. and acc. plural. Thus at say 300 B.C. the inflexions probably were:
|conson. stem||-ĭ- stem|
The confusing difference of signification of the long -ēs ending led to a levelling of these and other forms in the two paradigms.
(vii.) The disuse of the u declension (Gr. ἡδύς, στάχυς) in adjectives; this group in Latin, thanks to its feminine form (Sans. fem. svādvī, “sweet”), was transferred to the i declension (suavis, gravis, levis, dulcis).
30. In verbs.
(i.) The disuse of the distinction between the personal endings of primary and secondary tenses, the -t and -nt, for instance, being used for the third person singular and plural respectively in all tenses and moods of the active. This change was completed after the archaic period, since we find in the oldest inscriptions -d regularly used in the third person singular of past tenses, e.g. deded, feced in place of the later dedit, fecit; and since in Oscan the distinction was preserved to the end, both in singular and plural, e.g. faamat (perhaps meaning “auctionatur”), but deded (“dedit”). It is commonly assumed from the evidence of Greek and Sanskrit (Gr. ἕστι, Sans. asti beside Lat. est) that the primary endings in Latin have lost a final -i, partly or wholly by some phonetic change.
(ii.) The non-thematic conjugation is almost wholly lost, surviving only in a few forms of very common use, est, “is”; ēst, “eats”; volt, “wills,” &c.
(iii.) The complete fusion of the aorist and perfect forms, and in the same tense the fusion of active and middle endings; thus tutudī, earlier *tutudai, is a true middle perfect; dīxī is an s aorist with the same ending attached; dīxit is an aorist active; tutudisti is a conflation of perfect and aorist with a middle personal ending.
(iv.) The development of perfects in -uī and -vī, derived partly from true perfects of roots ending in v or u, e.g. mōvī ruī. For the origin of monuī see Exon, Hermathena (1901), xi. 396 sq.
(v.) The complete fusion of conjunctive and optative into a single mood, the subjunctive; regam, &c., are conjunctive forms, whereas rexerim, rexissem are certainly and regerem most probably optative; the origin of amem and the like is still doubtful. Notice, however, that true conjunctive forms were often used as futures, regēs, reget, &c., and also the simple thematic conjunctive in forms like erō, rexerō, &c.
(vi.) The development of the future in -bo and imperfect in -bam by compounding some form of the verb, possibly the Present Participle with forms from the root of fuī, *amans-fuo becoming amabō, *amans-fṷām becoming amābam at a very early period of Latin; see F. Skutsch, Atti d. Congresso Storico Intern. (1903), vol. ii. p. 191.
(vii.) We have already noticed the rise of the passive in -r (§ 5 (d)). Observe, however, that several middle forms have been pressed into the service, partly because the -r- in them which had come from -s- seemed to give them a passive colour (legere = Gr. λέγε(σ)ο, Attic λέγου). The interesting forms in -minī are a confusion of two distinct inflexions, namely, an old infinitive in -menai, used for the imperative, and the participial -menoi, masculine, -menai, feminine, used with the verb “to be” in place of the ordinary inflexions. Since these forms had all come to have the same shape, through phonetic change, their meanings were fused; the imperative forms being restricted to the plural, and the participial forms being restricted to the second person.
31. Past Participle Passive.—Next should be mentioned the great development in the use of the participle in -tos (factus, fusus, &c.). This participle was taken with sum to form the perfect tenses of the passive, in which, thanks partly to the fusion of perfect and aorist active, a past aorist sense was also evolved. This reacted on the participle itself giving it a prevailingly past colour, but its originally timeless use survives in many places, e.g. in the participle ratus, which has as a rule no past sense, and more definitely still in such passages as Vergil, Georg. i. 206 (vectis), Aen. vi. 22 (ductis), both of which passages demand a present sense. It is to be noticed also that in the earliest Latin, as in Greek and Sanskrit, the passive meaning, though the commonest, is not universal. Many traces of this survive in classical Latin, of which the chief are
1. The active meaning of deponent participles, in spite of the fact that some of them (e.g. adeptus, ēmēnsus, expertus) have also a passive sense, and
2. The familiar use of these participles by the Augustan poets with an accusative attached (galeam indutus, traiectus lora). Here no doubt the use of the Greek middle influenced the Latin poets, but no doubt they thought also that they were reviving an old Latin idiom.
32. Future Participle.—Finally may be mentioned together (a) the development of the future participle active (in -ūrus, never so freely used as the other participles, being rare in the ablative absolute even in Tacitus) from an old infinitive in -ūrum (“scio inimicos meos hoc dicturum,” C. Gracchus (and others) apud Gell. 1. 7, and Priscian ix. 864 (p. 475 Keil), which arose from combining the dative or locative of the verbal noun in -tu with an old infinitive esom “esse” which survives in Oscan, *dictu esom becoming dicturum. This was discovered by J. P. Postgate (Class. Review, v. 301, and Idg. Forschungen iv. 252). (b) From the same infinitival accusative with the post-position -dō, meaning “to,” “for,” “in” (cf. quandō for *quam-do, and Eng. to, Germ, zu) was formed the so-called gerund agen-dō, “for doing,” “in doing,” which was taken for a Case, and so gave rise to the accusative and genitive in -dum and -dī. The form in -dō still lives in Italian as an indeclinable present participle. The modal and purposive meanings of -dō appear in the uses of the gerund.
The authorities giving a fuller account of Latin morphology are the same as those cited in § 28 above, save that the reader must consult the second volume of Brugmann’s Grundriss, which in the English translation (by Conway and Rouse, Strassburg, 1890–1896) is divided into volumes ii, iii. and iv.; and that Niedermann does not deal with morphology.
The chief innovations of syntax developed in Latin may now be briefly noted.
33. In nouns.
(i.) Latin restricted the various Cases to more sharply defined uses than either Greek or Sanskrit; the free use of the internal accusative in Greek (e.g. ἁβρὸν βαίνειν, τυφλὸς τὰ ὦτα) is strange to Latin, save in poetical imitations of Greek; and so is the freedom of the Sanskrit instrumental, which often covers meanings expressed in Latin by cum, ab, inter.
(ii.) The syncretism of the so-called ablative case, which combines the uses of (a) the true ablative which ended in -d (O. Lat. praidād); (b) the instrumental sociative (plural forms like dominīs, the ending being that of Sans. çivāiş); and (c) the locative (noct-e, “at night”; itiner-e, “on the road,” with the ending of Greek ἐλπίδ–ι). The so-called absolute construction is mainly derived from the second of these, since it is regularly attached fairly closely to the subject of the clause in which it stands, and when accompanied by a passive participle most commonly denotes an action performed by that subject. But the other two sources cannot be altogether excluded (orto sole, “starting from sunrise”; campo patente, “on, in sight of, the open plain”).
34. In verbs.
(i.) The rich development and fine discrimination of the uses of the subjunctive mood, especially (a) in indirect questions (based on direct deliberative questions and not fully developed by the time of Plautus, who constantly writes such phrases as dic quis es for the Ciceronian dic quis sis); (b) after the relative of essential definition (non is sum qui negem) and the circumstantial cum (“at such a time as that”). The two uses (a) and (b) with (c) the common Purpose and Consequence-clauses spring from the “prospective” or “anticipatory” meaning of the mood. (d) Observe further its use in subordinate oblique clauses (irascitur quod abierim, “he is angry because, as he asserts, I went away”). This and all the uses of the mood in oratio obliqua are derived partly from (a) and (b) and partly from the (e) Unreal Jussive of past time (Non illi argentum redderem? Non redderes, “Ought I not to have returned the money to him?” “You certainly ought not to have,” or, more literally, “You were not to”).
On this interesting chapter of Latin syntax see W. G. Hale’s “Cum-constructions” (Cornell University Studies in Classical Philology, No. 1, 1887–1889), and The Anticipatory Subjunctive (Chicago, 1894).
(ii.) The complex system of oratio obliqua with the sequence of tenses (on the growth of the latter see Conway, Livy II., Appendix ii., Cambridge, 1901).
(iii.) The curious construction of the gerundive (ad capiendam urbem), originally a present (and future?) passive participle, but restricted in its use by being linked with the so-called gerund (see § 32, b). The use, but probably not the restriction, appears in Oscan and Umbrian.
(iv.) The favourite use of the impersonal passive has already been mentioned (§ 5, iv.).
35. The chief authorities for the study of Latin syntax are: Brugmann’s Kurze vergl. Grammatik, vol. ii. (see § 28); Landgraf’s Historische lat. Syntax (vol. ii. of the joint Hist. Gram., see § 28); Hale and Buck’s Latin Grammar (see § 28); Draeger’s Historische lat. Syntax, 2 vols. (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1878–1881), useful but not always trustworthy; the Latin sections in Delbrück’s Vergleichende Syntax, being the third volume of Brugmann’s Grundriss (§ 28).
IV. Importation of Greek Words
36. It is convenient, before proceeding to describe the development of the language in its various epochs, to notice briefly the debt of its vocabulary to Greek, since it affords an indication of the steadily increasing influence of Greek life and literature upon the growth of the younger idiom. Corssen (Lat. Aussprache, ii. 814) pointed out four different stages in the process, and though they are by no means sharply divided in time, they do correspond to different degrees and kinds of intercourse.
(a) The first represents the period of the early intercourse of Rome with the Greek states, especially with the colonies in the south of Italy and Sicily. To this stage belong many names of nations, countries and towns, as Siculi, Tarentum, Graeci, Achivi, Poenus; and also names of weights and measures, articles of industry and terms connected with navigation, as mina, talentum, purpura, patina, ancora, aplustre, nausea. Words like amurca, scutula, pessulus, balineum, tarpessita represent familiarity with Greek customs and bear equally the mark of naturalization. To these may be added names of gods or heroes, like Apollo, Pollux and perhaps Hercules. These all became naturalized Latin words and were modified by the phonetic changes which took place in the Latin language after they had come into it (cf. §§ 9-27 supra). (b) The second stage was probably the result of the closer intercourse resulting from the conquest of southern Italy, and the wars in Sicily, and of the contemporary introduction of imitations of Greek literature into Rome, with its numerous references to Greek life and culture. It is marked by the free use of hybrid forms, whether made by the addition of Latin suffixes to Greek stems as ballistārius, hēpatārius, subbasilicānus, sycophantiōsus, cōmissārī or of Greek suffixes to Latin stems as plāgipatidas, pernōnides; or by derivation, as thermopōtāre, supparasītāri; or by composition as ineuschēmē, thyrsigerae, flagritribae, scrophipascī. The character of many of these words shows that the comic poets who coined them must have been able to calculate upon a fair knowledge of colloquial Greek on the part of a considerable portion of their audience. The most remarkable instance of this is supplied by the burlesque lines in Plautus (Pers. 702 seq.), where Sagaristio describes himself as
During this period Greek words are still generally inflected according to the Latin usage.
(c) But with Accius (see below) begins a third stage, in which the Greek inflexion is frequently preserved, e.g. Hectora, Oresten, Cithaeron; and from this time forward the practice wavers. Cicero generally prefers the Latin case-endings, defending, e.g., Piraeeum as against Piraeea (ad Att. vii. 3, 7), but not without some fluctuation, while Varro takes the opposite side, and prefers poëmasin to the Ciceronian poëmatis. By this time also y and z were introduced, and the representation of the Greek aspirates by th, ph, ch, so that words newly borrowed from the Greek could be more faithfully reproduced. This is equally true whatever was the precise nature of the sound which at that period the Greek aspirates had reached in their secular process of change from pure aspirates (as in Eng. ant-hill, &c.) to fricatives (like Eng. th in thin). (See Arnold and Conway, The Restored Pronunciation of Greek and Latin, 4th ed., Cambridge, 1908, p. 21.)
(d) A fourth stage is marked by the practice of the Augustan poets, who, especially when writing in imitation of Greek originals, freely use the Greek inflexions, such as Arcaděs, Tethŷ, Aegida, Echūs, &c. Horace probably always used the Latin form in his Satires and Epistles, the Greek in his Odes. Later prose writers for the most part followed the example of his Odes. It must be added, however, in regard to these literary borrowings that it is not quite clear whether in this fourth class, and even in the unmodified forms in the preceding class, the words had really any living use in spoken Latin.
This appears the proper place for a rapid survey of the pronunciation of the Latin language, as spoken in its best days.
37. Consonants.—(i.) Back palatal. Breathed plosive c, pronounced always as k (except that in some early inscriptions—probably none much later, if at all later, than 300 B.C.—the character is used also for g) until about the 7th century after Christ. K went out of use at an early period, except in a few old abbreviations for words in which it had stood before a, e.g., kal. for kalendae. Q, always followed by the consonantal u, except in a few old inscriptions, in which it is used for c before the vowel u, e.g. pequnia. X, an abbreviation for cs; xs is, however, sometimes found. Voiced plosive g, pronounced as in English gone, but never as in English gem before about the 6th century after Christ. Aspirate h, the rough breathing as in English.
(ii.) Palatal.—The consonantal i, like the English y; it is only in late inscriptions that we find, in spellings like Zanuario, Giove, any definite indication of a pronunciation like the English j. The precise date of the change is difficult to determine (see Lindsay’s Latin Lang. p. 49), especially as we may, in isolated cases, have before us merely a dialectic variation; see Paeligni.
(iii.) Lingual.—r as in English, but probably produced more with the point of the tongue. l similarly more dental than in English. s always breathed (as Eng. ce in ice). z, which is only found in the transcription of Greek words in and after the time of Cicero, as dz or zz.
(iv.) Dental.—Breathed, t as in English. Voiced, d as in English; but by the end of the 4th century di before a vowel was pronounced like our j (cf. diurnal and journal). Nasal, n as in English; but also (like the English n) a guttural nasal (ng) before a guttural. Apparently it was very lightly pronounced, and easily fell away before s.
(v.) Labial.—Breathed, p as in English. Voiced, b as in English; but occasionally in inscriptions of the later empire v is written for b, showing that in some cases b had already acquired the fricative sound of the contemporary β (see § 24, iii.). b before a sharp s was pronounced p, e.g. in urbs. Nasal, m as in English, but very slightly pronounced at the end of a word. Spirant, v like the ou in French oui, but later approximating to the w heard in some parts of Germany, Ed. Sievers, Grundzüge d. Phonetik, ed. 4, p. 117, i.e. a labial v, not (like the English v) a labio-dental v.
(vi.) Labio-dental.—Breathed fricative, f as in English.
38. Vowels.—ā, ū, ī, as the English ah, oo, ee; ō, a sound coming nearer to Eng. aw than to Eng. ō; ē a close Italian ē, nearly as the a of Eng. mate, ée of Fr. passée. The short sound of the vowels was not always identical in quality with the long sound. ă was pronounced as in the French chatte, ŭ nearly as in Eng. pull, ĭ nearly as in pit, ŏ as in dot, ĕ nearly as in pet. The diphthongs were produced by pronouncing in rapid succession the vowels of which they were composed, according to the above scheme. This gives, au somewhat broader than ou in house; eu like ow in the “Yankee” pronunciation of town; ae like the vowel in hat lengthened, with perhaps somewhat more approximation to the i in wine; oe, a diphthongal sound approximating to Eng. oi; ui, as the French oui.
To this it should be added that the Classical Association, acting on the advice of a committee of Latin scholars, has recommended for the diphthongs ae and oe the pronunciation of English i (really ai) in wine and oi in boil, sounds which they undoubtedly had in the time of Plautus and probably much later, and which for practical use in teaching have been proved far the best.
VI. The Language as recorded
39. Passing now to a survey of the condition of the language at various epochs and in the different authors, we find the earliest monument of it yet discovered in a donative inscription on a fibula or brooch found in a tomb of the 7th century B.C. at Praeneste. It runs “Manios med fhefhaked Numasioi,” i.e. “Manios made me for Numasios.” The use of f (fh) to denote the sound of Latin f supplied the explanation of the change of the symbol f from its Greek value ( = Eng. w) to its Latin value f, and shows the Chalcidian Greek alphabet in process of adaptation to the needs of Latin (see Writing). The reduplicated perfect, its 3rd sing. ending -ed, the dative masculine in -oi (this is one of the only two recorded examples in Latin), the -s- between vowels (§ 25, 1), and the -a- in what was then (see §§ 9, 10) certainly an unaccented syllable and the accusative med, are all interesting marks of antiquity.
40. The next oldest fragment of continuous Latin is furnished by a vessel dug up in the valley between the Quirinal and the Viminal early in 1880. The vessel is of a dark brown clay, and consists of three small round pots, the sides of which are connected together. All round this vessel runs an inscription, in three clauses, two nearly continuous, the third written below; the writing is from right to left, and is still clearly legible; the characters include one sign not belonging to the later Latin alphabet, namely for R, while the M has five strokes and the Q has the form of a Koppa.
The inscription is as follows:—
“iovesat deivos qoi med mitat, nei ted endo cosmis virco sied, asted noisi opetoitesiai pacari vois.
dvenos med feced en manom einom duenoi ne med malo statod.”
The general style of the writing and the phonetic peculiarities make it fairly certain that this work must have been produced not later than 300 B.C. Some points in its interpretation are still open to doubt, but the probable interpretation is—
“Deos iurat ille (or iurant illi) qui me mittat (or mittant) ne in te Virgo (i.e. Proserpina) comis sit, nisi quidem optimo (?) Theseae (?) pacari vis. Duenos me fecit contra Manum, Dueno autem ne per me malum stato ( = imputetur, imponatur).”
“He (or they) who dispatch me binds the gods (by his offering) that Proserpine shall not be kind to thee unless thou wilt make terms with (or “for”) Opetos Thesias (?). Duenos made me against Manus, but let no evil fall to Duenos on my account.”
41. Between these two inscriptions lies in point of date the famous stele discovered in the Forum in 1899 (G. Boni, Notiz. d. scavi, May 1899). The upper half had been cut off in order to make way for a new pavement or black stone blocks (known to archaeologists as the niger lapis) on the site of the comitium, just to the north-east of the Forum in front of the Senate House. The inscription was written lengthwise along the (pyramidal) stele from foot to apex, but with the alternate lines in reverse directions, and one line not on the full face of any one of the four sides, but up a roughly-flattened fifth side made by slightly broadening one of the angles. No single sentence is complete and the mutilated fragments have given rise to a whole literature of conjectural “restorations.”
R. S. Conway examined it in situ in company with F. Skutsch in 1903 (cf. his article in Vollmöller’s Jahresbericht, vi. 453), and the only words that can be regarded as reasonably certain are regei (regi) on face 2, kalatorem and iouxmenta on face 3, and iouestod (iusto) on face 4. The date may be said to be fixed by the variation of the sign for m between and (with Ɑ for r) and other alphabetic indications which suggest the 5th century B.C. It has been suggested also that the reason for the destruction of the stele and the repavement may have been either (1) the pollution of the comitium by the Gallic invasion of 390 B.C., all traces of which, on their departure, could be best removed by a repaving; or (2) perhaps more probably, the Augustan restorations (Studniczka, Jahresheft d. Österr. Institut, 1903, vi. 129 ff.). (R. S. C.)
42. Of the earlier long inscriptions the most important would be the Columna Rostrata, or column of Gaius Duilius (q.v.), erected to commemorate his victory over the Carthaginians in 260 B.C., but for the extent to which it has suffered from the hands of restorers. The shape of the letters plainly shows that the inscription, as we have it, was cut in the time of the empire. Hence Ritschl and Mommsen pointed out that the language was modified at the same time, and that, although many archaisms have been retained, some were falsely introduced, and others replaced by more modern forms. The most noteworthy features in it are—C always written for G (Ceset = gessit), single for double consonants (clases-classes), d retained in the ablative (e.g., in altod marid), o for u in inflexions (primos, exfociont = exfugiunt), e for i (navebos = navibus, exemet = exemit); of these the first is probably an affected archaism, G having been introduced some time before the assumed date of the inscription. On the other hand, we have praeda where we should have expected praida; no final consonants are dropped; and the forms -es, -eis and -is for the accusative plural are interchanged capriciously. The doubts hence arising preclude the possibility of using it with confidence as evidence for the state of the language in the 3rd century B.C.
43. Of unquestionable genuineness and the greatest value are the Scipionum Elogia, inscribed on stone coffins, found in the monument of the Scipios outside the Capene gate (C.I.L.1 i. 32). The earliest of the family whose epitaph has been preserved is L. Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (consul 298 B.C.), the latest C. Cornelius Scipio Hispanus (praetor in 139 B.C.); but there are good reasons for believing with Ritschl that the epitaph of the first was not contemporary, but was somewhat later than that of his son (consul 259 B.C.). This last may therefore be taken as the earliest specimen of any length of Latin and it was written at Rome; it runs as follows:—
honcoino . ploirume . cosentiont . r[omai]
duonoro . optumo . fuise . uiro [virorum]
luciom . scipione . filios . barbati
co]nsol . censor . aidilis . hic . fuet a [pud vos]
he]c . cepit . corsica . aleriaque . urbe[m]
de]det . tempestatebus . aide . mereto[d votam].
The archaisms in this inscription are—(1) the retention of o for u in the inflexion of both nouns and verbs; (2) the diphthongs oi ( = later u) and ai ( = later ae); (3) -et for -it, hec for hic, and -ebus for -ibus; (4) duon- for bon; and (5) the dropping of a final m in every case except in Luciom, a variation which is a marked characteristic of the language of this period.
44. The oldest specimen of the Latin language preserved to us in any literary source is to be found in two fragments of the Carmina Saliaria (Varro, De ling. Lat. vii. 26, 27), and one in Terentianus Scaurus, but they are unfortunately so corrupt as to give us little real information (see B. Maurenbrecher, Carminum Saliarium reliquiae, Leipzig, 1894; G. Hempl, American Philol. Assoc. Transactions, xxxi., 1900, 184). Rather better evidence is supplied in the Carmen Fratrum Arvalium, which was found in 1778 engraved on one of the numerous tablets recording the transactions of the college of the Arval brothers, dug up on the site of their grove by the Tiber, 5 m. from the city of Rome; but this also has been so corrupted in its oral tradition that even its general meaning is by no means clear (C.I.L.1 i. 28; Jordan, Krit. Beiträge, pp. 203-211).
45. The text of the Twelve Tables (451–450 B.C.), if preserved in its integrity, would have been invaluable as a record of antique Latin; but it is known to us only in quotations. R. Schoell, whose edition and commentary (Leipzig, 1866) is the most complete, notes the following traces, among others, of an archaic syntax: (1) both the subject and the object of the verb are often left to be understood from the context, e.g. ni it antestamino, igitur, em capito; (2) the imperative is used even for permissions, “si volet, plus dato,” “if he choose, he may give him more”; (3) the subjunctive is apparently never used in conditional, only in final sentences, but the future perfect is common; (4) the connexion between sentences is of the simplest kind, and conjunctions are rare. There are, of course, numerous isolated archaisms of form and meaning, such as calvitur, pacunt, endo, escit. Later and less elaborate editions are contained in Fontes Iuris Romani, by Bruns-Mommsen-Gradenwitz (1892); and P. Girard, Textes de droit romain (1895).
46. Turning now to the language of literature we may group the Latin authors as follows:—
I. Ante-Classical (240–80 B.C.).—Naevius (? 269–204), Plautus (254–184), Ennius (239–169), Cato the Elder (234–149), Terentius (? 195–159), Pacuvius (220–132), Accius (170–94), Lucilius (? 168–103).
II. Classical—Golden Age (80 B.C.–A.D. 14).—Varro (116–28), Cicero (106–44), Lucretius (99–55), Caesar (102–44), Catullus (87–? 47), Sallust (86–34), Virgil (70–19), Horace (65–8), Propertius (? 50– ?), Tibullus (? 54–? 18), Ovid (43 B.C.–A.D. 18), Livy (59 B.C.–A.D. 18).
III. Classical—Silver Age (A.D. 14–180).—Velleius (? 19 B.C.–? A.D. 31), M. Seneca (d. c. A.D. 30), Persius (34–62), Petronius (d. 66), Lucan (39–65), L. Seneca (d. A.D. 65), Plinius major (23–A.D. 79), Martial (40–101), Quintilian (42–118), Pliny the Younger (61–? 113), Tacitus (? 60–? 118), Juvenal (? 47–? 138), Suetonius (75–160), Fronto (c. 90–170).
47. Naevius and Plautus.—In Naevius we find archaisms proportionally much more numerous than in Plautus, especially in the retention of the original length of vowels, and early forms of inflexion, such as the genitive in -as and the ablative in -d. The number of archaic words preserved is perhaps due to the fact that so large a proportion of his fragments have been preserved only by the grammarians, who cited them for the express purpose of explaining these.
Of the language of Plautus important features have already been mentioned (§§ 10-16); for its more general characteristics see Plautus.
48. Ennius.—The language of Ennius deserves especial study because of the immense influence which he exerted in fixing the literary style. He first established the rule that in hexameter verse all vowels followed by two consonants (except in the case of a mute and a liquid), or a double consonant, must be treated as lengthened by position. The number of varying quantities is also much diminished, and the elision of final -m becomes the rule, though not without exceptions. On the other hand he very commonly retains the original length of verbal terminations (essēt, faciēt) and of nominatives in or and a, and elides final s before an initial consonant. In declension he never uses -ae as the genitive, but -ai or -as; the older and shorter form of the gen. plur. is -um in common; obsolete forms of pronouns are used, as mis, olli, sum (= eum), sas, sos, sapsa; and in verbal inflexion there are old forms like morīmur (§ 15), fūimus (§ 17, vi.), potestur (cf. § 5, iv.). Some experiments in the way of tmesis (saxo cere comminuit-brum) and apocope (divum domus altisonum cael, replet te laetificum gau) were happily regarded as failures, and never came into real use. His syntax is simple and straightforward, with the occasional pleonasms of a rude style, and conjunctions are comparatively rare. From this time forward the literary language of Rome parted company with the popular dialect. Even to the classical writers Latin was in a certain sense a dead language. Its vocabulary was not identical with that of ordinary life. Now and again a writer would lend new vigour to his style by phrases and constructions drawn from homely speech. But on the whole, and in ever-increasing measure, the language of literature was the language of the schools, adapted to foreign models. The genuine current of Italian speech is almost lost to view with Plautus and Terence, and reappears clearly only in the semi-barbarous products of the early Romance literature.
49. Pacuvius, Accius and Lucilius.—Pacuvius is noteworthy especially for his attempt to introduce a free use of compounds after the fashion of the Greek, which were felt in the classical times to be unsuited to the genius of the Latin language, Quintilian censures severely his line—
Accius, though probably the greatest of the Roman tragedians, is only preserved in comparatively unimportant fragments. We know that he paid much attention to grammar and orthography; and his language is much more finished than that of Ennius. It shows no marked archaisms of form, unless the infinitive in -ier is to be accounted as such.
Lucilius furnishes a specimen of the language of the period, free from the restraints of tragic diction and the imitation of Greek originals. Unfortunately the greater part of his fragments are preserved only by a grammarian whose text is exceptionally corrupt; but they leave no doubt as to the justice of the criticism passed by Horace on his careless and “muddy” diction. The urbanitas which is with one accord conceded to him by ancient critics seems to indicate that his style was free from the taint of provincial Latinity, and it may be regarded as reproducing the language of educated circles in ordinary life; the numerous Graecisms and Greek quotations with which it abounds show the familiarity of his readers with the Greek language and literature. Varro ascribes to him the gracile genus dicendi, the distinguishing features of which were venustas and subtilitas. Hence it appears that his numerous archaisms were regarded as in no way inconsistent with grace and precision of diction. But it may be remembered that Varro was himself something of an archaizer, and also that the grammarians’ quotations may bring this aspect too much into prominence. Lucilius shares with the comic poets the use of many plebeian expressions, the love for diminutives, abstract terms and words of abuse; but occasionally he borrows from the more elevated style of Ennius forms like simitu (= simul), noenu (= non), facul (= facile), and the genitive in -āī, and he ridicules the contemporary tragedians for their zetematia, their high-flown diction and sesquipedalia verba, which make the characters talk “not like men but like portents, flying winged snakes.” In his ninth book he discusses questions of grammar, and gives some interesting facts as to the tendencies of the language. For instance, when he ridicules a praetor urbanus for calling himself pretor, we see already the intrusion of the rustic degradation of ae into e, which afterwards became universal. He shows a great command of technical language, and (partly owing to the nature of the fragments) ἅπαξ λεγόμενα are very numerous.
50. Cato.—The treatise of Cato the elder, De re rustica, would have afforded invaluable material, but it has unfortunately come down to us in a text greatly modernized, which is more of interest from the point of view of literature than of language. We find in it, however, instances of the accusative with uti, of the old imperative praefamino and of the fut. sub. servassis, prohibessis and such interesting subjunctive constructions as dato bubus bibant omnibus, “give all the oxen (water) to drink.”
51. Growth of Latin Prose.—It is unfortunately impossible to trace the growth of Latin prose diction through its several stages with the same clearness as in the case of poetry. The fragments of the earlier Latin prose writers are too scanty for us to be able to say with certainty when and how a formed prose style was created. But the impulse to it was undoubtedly given in the habitual practice of oratory. The earliest orators, like Cato, were distinguished for strong common sense, biting wit and vigorous language, rather than for any graces of style; and probably personal auctoritas was of far more account than rhetoric both in the law courts and in the assemblies of the people. The first public speaker, according to Cicero, who aimed at a polished style and elaborate periods was M. Aemilius Lepidus Porcina, in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. On his model the Gracchi and Carbo fashioned themselves, and, if we may judge from the fragments of the orations of C. Gracchus which are preserved, there were few traces of archaism remaining. A more perfect example of the urbanitas at which good speakers aimed was supplied by a famous speech of C. Fannius against C. Gracchus, which Cicero considered the best oration of the time. No small part of the urbanitas consisted in a correct urban pronunciation; and the standard of this was found in the language of the women of the upper classes, such as Laelia and Cornelia.
In the earliest continuous prose work which remains to us the four books De Rhetorica ad Herennium, we find the language already almost indistinguishable from that of Cicero. There has been much discussion as to the authorship of this work, now commonly, without very convincing reasons, ascribed to Q. Cornificius; but, among the numerous arguments which prove that it cannot have been the work of Cicero, none has been adduced of any importance drawn from the character of the language. It is worth while noticing that not only is the style in itself perfectly finished, but the treatment of the subject of style, elocutio (iv. 12. 17), shows the pains which had already been given to the question. The writer lays down three chief requisites—(1) elegantia, (2) compositio and (3) dignitas. Under the first come Latinitas, a due avoidance of solecisms and barbarisms, and explanatio, clearness, the employment of familiar and appropriate expressions. The second demands a proper arrangement; hiatus, alliteration, rhyme, the repetition or displacement of words, and too long sentences are all to be eschewed. Dignity depends upon the selection of language and of sentiments.
52. Characteristics of Latin Prose.—Hence we see that by the time of Cicero Latin prose was fully developed. We may, therefore, pause here to notice the characteristic qualities of the language at its most perfect stage. The Latin critics were themselves fully conscious of the broad distinction in character between their own language and the Greek. Seneca dwells upon the stately and dignified movement of the Latin period, and uses for Cicero the happy epithet of gradarius. He allows to the Greeks gratia, but claims potentia for his own countrymen. Quintilian (xii. 10. 27 seq.) concedes to Greek more euphony and variety both of vocalization and of accent; he admits that Latin words are harsher in sound, and often less happily adapted to the expression of varying shades of meaning. But he too claims “power” as the distinguishing mark of his own language. Feeble thought may be carried off by the exquisite harmony and subtleness of Greek diction; his countrymen must aim at fulness and weight of ideas if they are not to be beaten off the field. The Greek authors are like lightly moving skiffs; the Romans spread wider sails and are wafted by stronger breezes; hence the deeper waters suit them. It is not that the Latin language fails to respond to the calls made upon it. Lucretius and Cicero concur, it is true, in complaints of the poverty of their native language; but this was only because they had had no predecessors in the task of adapting it to philosophic utterance; and the long life of Latin technical terms like qualitas, species, genus, ratio, shows how well the need was met when it arose. H. A. J. Munro has said admirably of this very period:—
“The living Latin for all the higher forms of composition, both prose and verse, was a far nobler language than the living Greek. During the long period of Grecian pre-eminence and literary glory, from Homer to Demosthenes, all the manifold forms of poetry and prose which were invented one after the other were brought to such exquisite perfection that their beauty of form and grace of language were never afterwards rivalled by Latin or any other people. But hardly had Demosthenes and Aristotle ceased to live when that Attic which had been gradually formed into such a noble instrument of thought in the hands of Aristophanes, Euripides, Plato and the orators, and had superseded for general use all the other dialects, became at the same time the language of the civilized world and was stricken with a mortal decay.... Epicurus, who was born in the same year as Menander, writes a harsh jargon that does not deserve to be called a style; and others of whose writings anything is left entire or in fragments, historians and philosophers alike, Polybius, Chrysippus, Philodemus, are little if any better. When Cicero deigns to translate any of their sentences, see what grace and life he instils into their clumsily expressed thoughts, how satisfying to the ear and taste are the periods of Livy when he is putting into Latin the heavy and uncouth clauses of Polybius! This may explain what Cicero means when at one time he gives to Greek the preference over Latin, at another to Latin over Greek; in reading Sophocles or Plato he could acknowledge their unrivalled excellence; in translating Panaetius or Philodemus he would feel his own immeasurable superiority.”
The greater number of long syllables, combined with the paucity of diphthongs and the consequent monotony of vocalization, and the uniformity of the accent, lent a weight and dignity of movement to the language which well suited the national gravitas. The precision of grammatical rules and the entire absence of dialectic forms from the written literature contributed to maintain the character of unity which marked the Roman republic as compared with the multiplicity of Greek states. It was remarked by Francis Bacon that artistic and imaginative nations indulge freely in verbal compounds, practical nations in simple concrete terms. In this respect, too, Latin contrasts with Greek. The attempts made by some of the earlier poets to indulge in novel compounds was felt to be out of harmony with the genius of the language. Composition, though necessarily employed, was kept within narrow limits, and the words thus produced have a sharply defined meaning, wholly unlike the poetical vagueness of some of the Greek compounds. The vocabulary of the language, though receiving accessions from time to time in accordance with practical needs, was rarely enriched by the products of a spontaneous creativeness. In literature the taste of the educated town circles gave the law; and these, trained in the study of the Greek masters of style, required something which should reproduce for them the harmony of the Greek period. Happily the orators who gave form to Latin prose were able to meet the demand without departing from the spirit of their own language.
53. Cicero and Caesar.—To Cicero especially the Romans owed the realization of what was possible to their language in the way of artistic finish of style. He represents a protest at one and the same time against the inroads of the plebeius sermo, vulgarized by the constant influx of non-Italian provincials into Rome, and the “jargon of spurious and partial culture” in vogue among the Roman pupils of the Asiatic rhetoricians. His essential service was to have caught the tone and style of the true Roman urbanitas, and to have fixed it in extensive and widely read speeches and treatises as the final model of classical prose. The influence of Caesar was wholly in the same direction. His cardinal principle was that every new-fangled and affected expression, from whatever quarter it might come, should be avoided by the writer, as rocks by the mariner. His own style for straightforward simplicity and purity has never been surpassed; and it is not without full reason that Cicero and Caesar are regarded as the models of classical prose. But, while they fixed the type of the best Latin, they did not and could not alter its essential character. In subtlety, in suggestiveness, in many-sided grace and versatility, it remained far inferior to the Greek. But for dignity and force, for cadence and rhythm, for clearness and precision, the best Latin prose remains unrivalled.
It is needless to dwell upon the grammar or vocabulary of Cicero. His language is universally taken as the normal type of Latin; and, as hitherto the history of the language has been traced by marking differences from his usage, so the same method may be followed for what remains.
54. Varro, “the most learned of the ancients,” a friend and contemporary of Cicero, seems to have rejected the periodic rhythmical style of Cicero, and to have fallen back upon a more archaic structure. Mommsen says of one passage “the clauses of the sentence are arranged on the thread of the relative like dead thrushes on a string.” But, in spite (some would say, because) of his old-fashioned tendencies, his language shows great vigour and spirit. In his Menippean satires he intentionally made free use of plebeian expressions, while rising at times to a real grace and showing often fresh humour. His treatise De Re Rustica, in the form of a dialogue, is the most agreeable of his works, and where the nature of his subject allows it there is much vivacity and dramatic picturesqueness, although the precepts are necessarily given in a terse and abrupt form. His sentences are as a rule co-ordinated, with but few connecting links; his diction contains many antiquated or unique words.
55. Sallust.—In Sallust, a younger contemporary of Cicero, we have the earliest complete specimen of historical narrative. It is probably due to his subject-matter, at least in part, that his style is marked by frequent archaisms; but something must be ascribed to intentional imitation of the earlier chroniclers, which led him to be called priscorum Catonisque verborum ineruditissimus fur. His archaisms consist partly of words and phrases used in a sense for which we have only early authorities, e.g. cum animo habere, &c., animos tollere, bene factum, consultor, prosapia, dolus, venenum, obsequela, inquies, sallere, occipere, collibeo, and the like, where we may notice especially the fondness for frequentatives, which he shares with the early comedy; partly in inflections which were growing obsolete, such as senati, solui, comperior (dep.), neglegisset, vis (acc. pl.) nequitur. In syntax his constructions are for the most part those of the contemporary writers.
56. Lucretius is largely archaic in his style. We find im for eum, endo for in, illae, ullae, unae and aliae as genitives, alid for aliud, rabies as a genitive by the side of genitives in -ai, ablatives in -i like colli, orbi, parti, nominatives in s for r, like colos, vapos, humos. In verbs there are scatit, fulgit, quaesit, confluxet = confluxisset, recesse = recessisse, induiacere for inicere; simple forms like fligere, lacere, cedere, stinguere for the more usual compounds, the infinitive passive in -ier, and archaic forms from esse like siet, escit, fuat. Sometimes he indulges in tmesis which reminds us of Ennius: inque pediri, disque supata, ordia prima. But this archaic tinge is adopted only for poetical purposes, and as a proof of his devotion to the earlier masters of his art; it does not affect the general substance of his style, which is of the freshest and most vigorous stamp. But the purity of his idiom is not gained by any slavish adherence to a recognized vocabulary: he coins words freely; Munro has noted more than a hundred ἅπαξ λεγόμενα, or words which he alone among good writers uses. Many of these are formed on familiar models, such as compounds and frequentatives; others are directly borrowed from the Greek apparently with a view to sweetness of rhythm (ii. 412, v. 334, 505); others again (forty or more in number) are compounds of a kind which the classical language refused to adopt, such as silvifragus, terriloquus, perterricrepus. He represents not so much a stage in the history of the language as a protest against the tendencies fashionable in his own time. But his influence was deep upon Virgil, and through him upon all subsequent Latin literature.
57. Catullus gives us the type of the language of the cultivated circles, lifted into poetry by the simple directness with which it is used to express emotion. In his heroic and elegiac poems he did not escape the influence of the Alexandrian school, and his genius is ill suited for long-continued flights; but in his lyrical poems his language is altogether perfect. As Macaulay says: “No Latin writer is so Greek. The simplicity, the pathos, the perfect grace, which I find in the great Athenian models are all in Catullus, and in him alone of the Romans.” The language of these poems comes nearest perhaps to that of Cicero’s more intimate letters. It is full of colloquial idioms and familiar language, of the diminutives of affection or of playfulness. Greek words are rare, especially in the lyrics, and those which are employed are only such as had come to be current coin. Archaisms are but sparingly introduced; but for metrical reasons he has four instances of the inf. pass., in -ier, and several contracted forms; we find also alis and alid, uni (gen.), and the antiquated tetuli and recepso. There are traces of the popular language in the shortened imperatives cavĕ and manĕ, in the analytic perfect paratam habes, and in the use of unus approaching that of the indefinite article.
58. Horace.—The poets of the Augustan age mark the opening of a new chapter in the history of the Latin language. The influence of Horace was less than that of his friend and contemporary Virgil; for Horace worked in a field of his own, and, although Statius imitated his lyrics, and Persius and Juvenal, especially the former, his satires, on the whole there are few traces of any deep marks left by him on the language of later writers. In his Satires and Epistles the diction is that of the contemporary urbanitas, differing hardly at all from that of Cicero in his epistles and dialogues. The occasional archaisms, such as the syncope in erepsemus, evasse, surrexe, the infinitives in -ier, and the genitives deum, divum, may be explained as still conversationally allowable, though ceasing to be current in literature; and a similar explanation may account for plebeian terms, e.g. balatro, blatero, giarrio, mutto, vappa, caldus, soldus, surpite, for the numerous diminutives, and for such pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions and turns of expression as were common in prose, but not found, or found but rarely, in elevated poetry. Greek words are used sparingly, not with the licence which he censures in Lucilius, and in his hexameters are framed according to Latin rules. In the Odes, on the other hand, the language is much more precisely limited. There are practically no archaisms (spargier in Carm. iv. 11. 8 is a doubtful exception), or plebeian expressions; Greek inflections are employed, but not with the licence of Catullus; there are no datives in ĭ or sĭn like Tethyĭ or Dryasin; Greek constructions are fairly numerous, e.g. the genitive with verbs like regnare, abstinere, desinere, and with adjectives, as integer vitae, the so-called Greek accusative, the dative with verbs of contest, like luctari, decertare, the transitive use of many intransitive verbs in the past participle, as regnatus, triumphatus; and finally there is a “prolative” use of the infinitive after verbs and adjectives, where prose would have employed other constructions, which, though not limited to Horace, is more common with him than with other poets. Compounds are very sparingly employed, and apparently only when sanctioned by authority. His own innovations in vocabulary are not numerous. About eighty ἅπαξ λεγόμενα have been noted. Like Virgil, he shows his exquisite skill in the use of language rather in the selection from already existing stores, than in the creation of new resources: tantum series iuncturaque pollet. But both his diction and his syntax left much less marked traces upon succeeding writers than did those of either Virgil or Ovid.
59. Virgil.—In Virgil the Latin language reached its full maturity. What Cicero was to the period, Virgil was to the hexameter; indeed the changes that he wrought were still more marked, inasmuch as the language of verse admits of greater subtlety and finish than even the most artistic prose. For the straightforward idiomatic simplicity of Lucretius and Catullus he substituted a most exact and felicitous diction, rich with the suggestion of the most varied sources of inspiration. Sometimes it is a phrase of Homer’s “conveyed” literally with happy boldness, sometimes it is a line of Ennius, or again some artistic Sophoclean combination. Virgil was equally familiar with the great Greek models of style and with the earlier Latin poets. This learning, guided by an unerring sense of fitness and harmony, enabled him to give to his diction a music which recalls at once the fullest tones of the Greek lyre and the lofty strains of the most genuinely national song. His love of antiquarianism in language has often been noticed, but it never passes into pedantry. His vocabulary and constructions are often such as would have conveyed to his contemporaries a grateful flavour of the past, but they would never have been unintelligible. Forms like iusso, olle or admittier can have delayed no one.
In the details of syntax it is difficult to notice any peculiarly Virgilian points, for the reason that his language, like that of Cicero, became the canon, departures from which were accounted irregularities. But we may notice as favourite constructions a free use of oblique cases in the place of the more definite construction with prepositions usual in prose, e.g. it clamor caelo, flet noctem, rivis currentia vina, bacchatam iugis Naxon, and many similar phrases; the employment of some substantives as adjectives, like venator canis, and vice versa, as plurimus volitans; a proleptic use of adjectives, as tristia torquebit; idioms involving ille, atque, deinde, haud, quin, vix, and the frequent occurrence of passive verbs in their earlier reflexive sense, as induor, velor, pascor.
60. Livy.—In the singularly varied and beautiful style of Livy we find Latin prose in rich maturity. To a training in the rhetorical schools, and perhaps professional experience as a teacher of rhetoric, he added a thorough familiarity with contemporary poetry and with the Greek language; and these attainments have all deeply coloured his language. It is probable that the variety of style naturally suggested by the wide range of his subject matter was increased by a half-unconscious adoption of the phrases and constructions of the different authorities whom he followed in different parts of his work; and the industry of German critics has gone far to demonstrate a conclusion likely enough in itself. Hence perhaps comes the fairly long list of archaisms, especially in formulae (cf. Kühnast, Liv. Synt. pp. 14-18). These are, however, purely isolated phenomena, which do not affect the general tone. It is different with the poetical constructions and Graecisms, which appear on every page. Of the latter we find numerous instances in the use of the cases, e.g. in genitives like via praedae omissae, oppidum Antiochiae, aequum campi; in datives like quibusdam volentibus erat; in accusatives like iurare calumniam, certare multam; an especially frequent use of transitive verbs absolutely; and the constant omission of the reflexive pronoun as the subject of an infinitive in reported speech. To the same source must be assigned the very frequent pregnant construction with prepositions, an attraction of relatives, and the great extension of the employment of relative adverbs of place instead of relative pronouns, e.g. quo = in quem. Among his poetical characteristics we may place the extensive list of words which are found for the first time in his works and in those of Virgil or Ovid, and perhaps his common use of concrete words for collective, e.g. eques for equitatus, of abstract terms such as remigium, servitia, robora, and of frequentative verbs, to say nothing of poetical phrases like haec ubi dicta dedit, adversum montium, &c. Indications of the extended use of the subjunctive, which he shares with contemporary writers, especially poets, are found in the construction of ante quam, post quam with this mood, even when there is no underlying notion of anticipation, of donec, and of cum meaning “whenever.” On the other hand, forsitan and quamvis, as in the poets, are used with the indicative in forgetfulness of their original force. Among his individual peculiarities may be noticed the large number of verbal nouns in -tus (for which Cicero prefers forms in -tio) and in -tor, and the extensive use of the past passive participle to replace an abstract substantive, e.g. ex dictatorio imperio concusso. In the arrangement of words Livy is much more free than any previous prose writer, aiming, like the poets, at the most effective order. His periods are constructed with less regularity than those of Cicero, but they gain at least as much in variety and energy as they lose in uniformity of rhythm and artistic finish. His style cannot be more fitly described than in the language of Quintilian, who speaks of his mira iucunditas and lactea ubertas.
61. Propertius.—The language of Propertius is too distinctly his own to call for detailed examination here. It cannot be taken as a specimen of the great current of the Latin language; it is rather a tributary springing from a source apart, tinging to some slight extent the stream into which it pours itself, but soon ceasing to affect it in any perceptible fashion. “His obscurity, his indirectness and his incoherence” (to adopt the words of J. P. Postgate) were too much out of harmony with the Latin taste for him to be regarded as in any sense representative; sometimes he seems to be hardly writing Latin at all. Partly from his own strikingly independent genius, partly from his profound and not always judicious study of the Alexandrian writers, his poems abound in phrases and constructions which are without a parallel in Latin poetry. His archaisms and Graecisms, both in diction and in syntax, are very numerous; but frequently there is a freedom in the use of cases and prepositions which can only be due to bold and independent innovations. His style well deserves a careful study for its own sake (cf. J. P. Postgate’s Introduction, pp. lvii.-cxxv.); but it is of comparatively little significance in the history of the language.
62. Ovid.—The brief and few poems of Tibullus supply only what is given much more fully in the works of Ovid. In these we have the language recognized as that best fitted for poetry by the fashionable circles in the later years of Augustus. The style of Ovid bears many traces of the imitation of Virgil, Horace and Propertius, but it is not less deeply affected by the rhetoric of the schools. His never-failing fertility of fancy and command of diction often lead him into a diffuseness which mars the effect of his best works; according to Quintilian it was only in his (lost) tragedy of Medea that he showed what real excellence he might have reached if he had chosen to control his natural powers. His influence on later poets was largely for evil; if he taught them smoothness of versification and polish of language, he also co-operated powerfully with the practice of recitation to lead them to aim at rhetorical point and striking turns of expression, instead of a firm grasp of a subject as a whole, and due subordination of the several parts to the general impression. Ovid’s own influence on language was not great; he took the diction of poetry as he found it, formed by the labours of his predecessors; the conflict between the archaistic and the Graecizing schools was already settled in favour of the latter; and all that he did was to accept the generally accepted models as supplying the material in moulding which his luxuriant fancy could have free play. He has no deviations from classical syntax but those which were coming into fashion in his time (e.g. forsitan and quamvis with the indic., the dative of the agent with passive verbs, the ablative for the accusative of time, the infinitive after adjectives like certus, aptus, &c.), and but few peculiarities in his vocabulary. It is only in the letters from the Pontus that laxities of construction are detected, which show that the purity of his Latin was impaired by his residence away from Rome, and perhaps by increasing carelessness of composition.
63. The Latin of Daily Life.—While the leading writers of the Ciceronian and Augustan eras enable us to trace the gradual development of the Latin language to its utmost finish as an instrument of literary expression, there are some less important authors who supply valuable evidence of the character of the sermo plebeius. Among them may be placed the authors of the Bellum Africanum and the Bellum Hispaniense appended to Caesar’s Commentaries. These are not only far inferior to the exquisite urbanitas of Caesar’s own writings; they are much rougher in style even than the less polished Bellum Alexandrinum and De Bello Gallico Liber VIII., which are now with justice ascribed to Hirtius. There is sufficient difference between the two to justify us in assuming two different authors; but both freely employ words and constructions which are at once antiquated and vulgar. The writer of the Bellum Alexandrinum uses a larger number of diminutives within his short treatise than Caesar in nearly ten times the space; postquam and ubi are used with the pluperfect subjunctive; there are numerous forms unknown to the best Latin, like tristimonia, exporrigere, cruciabiliter and convulnero; potior is followed by the accusative, a simple relative by the subjunctive. There is also a very common use of the pluperfect for the imperfect, which seems a mark of this plebeius sermo (Nipperdey, Quaest. Caes. pp. 13-30).
Another example of what we may call the Latin of business life is supplied by Vitruvius. Besides the obscurity of many of his technical expressions, there is a roughness and looseness in his language, far removed from a literary style; he shares the incorrect use of the pluperfect, and uses plebeian forms like calefaciuntur, faciliter, expertiones and such careless phrases as rogavit Archimedem uti in se sumeret sibi de eo cogitationem. At a somewhat later stage we have, not merely plebeian, but also provincial Latin represented in the Satyricon of Petronius. The narrative and the poems which are introduced into it are written in a style distinguished only by the ordinary peculiarities of silver Latinity; but in the numerous conversations the distinctions of language appropriate to the various speakers are accurately preserved; and we have in the talk of the slaves and provincials a perfect storehouse of words and constructions of the greatest linguistic value. Among the unclassical forms and constructions may be noticed masculines like fatus, vinus, balneus, fericulus and lactem (for lac), striga for strix, gaudimonium and tristimonium, sanguen, manducare, nutricare, molestare, nesapius (sapius = Fr. sage), rostrum (= os), ipsimus (= master), scordalias, baro, and numerous diminutives like camella, audaculus, potiuncula, savunculum, offla, peduclus, corcillum, with constructions such as maledicere and persuadere with the accusative, and adiutare with the dative, and the deponent forms pudeatur and ridetur. Of especial interest for the Romance languages are astrum (désastre), berbex (brébis), botellus (boyau), improperare, muttus, naufragare.
Suetonius (Aug. c. 87) gives an interesting selection of plebeian words employed in conversation by Augustus, who for the rest was something of a purist in his written utterances: ponit assidue et pro stulto baceolum, et pro pullo pulleiaceum, et pro cerrito vacerrosum, et vapide se habere pro male, et betizare pro languere, quod vulgo lachanizare dicitur.
The inscriptions, especially those of Pompeii, supply abundant evidence of the corruptions both of forms and of pronunciation common among the vulgar. It is not easy always to determine whether a mutilated form is evidence of a letter omitted in pronunciation, or only in writing; but it is clear that the ordinary man habitually dropped final m, s, and t, omitted n before s, and pronounced ĭ like ĕ. There are already signs of the decay of ae to e, which later on became almost universal. The additions to our vocabulary are slight and unimportant (cf. Corpus Inscr. Lat. iv., with Zangemeister’s Indices).
64. To turn to the language of literature. In the dark days of Tiberius and the two succeeding emperors a paralysis seemed to have come upon prose and poetry alike. With the one exception of oratory, literature had long been the utterance of a narrow circle, not the expression of the energies of national life; and now, while all free speech in the popular assemblies was silenced, the nobles were living under a suspicious despotism, which, whatever the advantage which it brought to the poorer classes and to the provincials, was to them a reign of terror. It is no wonder that the fifty years after the accession of Tiberius are a blank as regards all higher literature. Velleius Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, Celsus and Phaedrus give specimens of the Latin of the time, but the style of no one of these, classical for the most part in vocabulary, but occasionally approaching the later usages in syntax, calls for special analysis. The elder Seneca in his collection of suasoriae and controversiae supplies examples of the barren quibblings by which the young Romans were trained in the rhetorical schools. A course of instruction, which may have been of service when its end was efficiency in active public life, though even then not without its serious drawbacks, as is shown by Cicero in his treatise De Oratore, became seriously injurious when its object was merely idle display. Prose came to be overloaded with ornament, and borrowed too often the language, though not the genius, of poetry; while poetry in its turn, partly owing to the fashion of recitation, became a string of rhetorical points.
65. Seneca, Persius and Lucan.—In the writers of Nero’s age there are already plain indications of the evil effects of the rhetorical schools upon language as well as literature. The leading man of letters was undoubtedly Seneca the younger, “the Ovid of prose”; and his style set the model which it became the fashion to imitate. But it could not commend itself to the judgment of sound critics like Quintilian, who held firmly to the great masters of an earlier time. He admits its brilliance, and the fertility of its pointed reflections, but charges the author justly with want of self-restraint, jerkiness, frequent repetitions and tawdry tricks of rhetoric. Seneca was the worst of models, and pleased by his very faults. In his tragedies the rhetorical elaboration of the style only serves to bring into prominence the frigidity and frequent bad taste of the matter. But his diction is on the whole fairly classical; he is, in the words of Muretus, vetusti sermonis diligentior quam quidam inepte fastidiosi suspicantur. In Persius there is a constant straining after rhetorical effect, which fills his verses with harsh and obscure expressions. The careful choice of diction by which his master Horace makes every word tell is exaggerated into an endeavour to gain force and freshness by the most contorted phrases. The sin of allusiveness is fostered by the fashion of the day for epigram, till his lines are barely intelligible after repeated reading. Conington happily suggested that this style was assumed only for satiric purposes, and pointed out that when not writing satire Persius was as simple and unaffected as Horace himself. This view, while it relieves Persius of much of the censure which has been directed against his want of judgment, makes him all the more typical a representative of this stage of silver Latinity. In his contemporary Lucan we have another example of the faults of a style especially attractive to the young, handled by a youth of brilliant but ill-disciplined powers. The Pharsalia abounds in spirited rhetoric, in striking epigram, in high sounding declamation; but there are no flights of sustained imagination, no ripe wisdom, no self-control in avoiding the exaggerated or the repulsive, no mature philosophy of life or human destiny. Of all the Latin poets he is the least Virgilian. It has been said of him that he corrupted the style of poetry, not less than Seneca that of prose.
66. Pliny, Quintilian, Frontinus.—In the elder Pliny the same tendencies are seen occasionally breaking out in the midst of the prosaic and inartistic form in which he gives out the stores of his cumbrous erudition. Wherever he attempts a loftier tone than that of the mere compiler, he falls into the tricks of Seneca. The nature of his encyclopaedic subject matter naturally makes his vocabulary very extensive; but in syntax and general tone of language he does not differ materially from contemporary writers. Quintilian is of interest especially for the sound judgment which led him to a true appreciation of the writers of Rome’s golden age. He set himself strenuously to resist the tawdry rhetoric fashionable in his own time, and to hold up before his pupils purer and loftier models. His own criticisms are marked by excellent taste, and often by great happiness of expression, which is pointed without being unduly epigrammatic. But his own style did not escape, as indeed it hardly could, the influences of his time; and in many small points his language falls short of classical purity. There is more approach to the simplicity of the best models in Frontinus, who furnishes a striking proof that it was rather the corruption of literary taste than any serious change in the language of ordinary cultivated men to which the prevalent style was due. Writing on practical matters—the art of war and the water-supply of Rome—he goes straight to the point without rhetorical flourishes; and the ornaments of style which he occasionally introduces serve to embellish but not to distort his thought.
67. The Flavian Age.—The epic poets of the Flavian age present a striking contrast to the writers of the Claudian period. As a strained originality was the cardinal fault of the one school, so a tame and slavish following of authority is the mark of the other. The general correctness of this period may perhaps be ascribed (with Merivale) partly to the political conditions, partly to the establishment of professional schools. Teachers like Quintilian must have done much to repress extravagance of thought and language; but they could not kindle the spark of genius. Valerius Flaccus, Silius Italicus and Papinius Statius are all correct in diction and in rhythm, and abound in learning; but their inspiration is drawn from books and not from nature or the heart; details are elaborated to the injury of the impression of the whole; every line is laboured, and overcharged with epigrammatic rhetoric. Statius shows by far the greatest natural ability and freshness; but he attempts to fill a broad canvas with drawing and colouring suited only to a miniature. Juvenal exemplifies the tendencies of the language of his time, as moulded by a singularly powerful mind. A careful study of the earlier poets, especially Virgil and Lucan, has kept his language up to a high standard of purity. His style is eminently rhetorical; but it is rhetoric of real power. The concise brevity by which it is marked seems to have been the result of a deliberate attempt to mould his natural diffuseness into the form recognized as most appropriate for satire. In his verses we notice a few metrical peculiarities which represent the pronunciation of his age, especially the shortening of the final -o in verbs, but as a rule they conform to the Virgilian standard. In Martial the tendency of this period to witty epigram finds its most perfect embodiment, combined with finished versification.
68. Pliny the Younger and Tacitus.—The typical prose-writers of this time are Pliny the younger and Tacitus. Some features of the style of Tacitus are peculiar to himself; but on the whole the following statement represents the tendencies shared in greater or less degree by all the writers of this period. The gains lie mainly in the direction of a more varied and occasionally more effective syntax; its most striking defect is a lack of harmony in the periods, of arrangements in words, of variety in particles arising from the loose connexion of sentences. The vocabulary is extended, but there are losses as well as gains. Quintilian’s remarks are fully borne out by the evidence of extant authorities: on the one hand, quid quod nihil iam proprium placet, dum parum creditur disertum, quod et alius dixisset (viii. prooem. 24); a corruptissimo quoque poetarum figuras seu translationes mutuamur; tum demum ingeniosi scilicet, si ad intelligendos nos opus sit ingenio (ib. 25); sordet omne quod natura dictavit (ib. 26); on the other hand, nunc utique, cum haec exercitatio procul a veritate seiuncta laboret incredibili verborum fastidio, ac sibi magnam partem sermonis absciderit (viii. 3, 23), multa cotidie ab antiquis ficta moriuntur (ib. 6, 32). A writer like Suetonius therefore did good service in introducing into his writings terms and phrases borrowed, not from the rhetoricians, but from the usage of daily life.
69. In the vocabulary of Tacitus there are to be noted:—
1. Words borrowed (consciously or unconsciously) from the classical poets, especially Virgil, occurring for the most part also in contemporary prose. Of these Dräger gives a list of ninety-five (Syntax und Stil des Tacitus, p. 96).
2. Words occurring only, or for the first time, in Tacitus. These are for the most part new formations or compounds from stems already in use, especially verbal substantives in -tor and -sor, -tus and -sus, -tura and -mentum, with new frequentatives.
3. Words used with a meaning (a) not found in earlier prose, but sometimes borrowed from the poets, e.g. componere, “to bury”; scriptura, “a writing”; ferratus “armed with a sword”; (b) peculiar to later writers, e.g. numerosus, “numerous”; famosus, “famous”; decollare, “to behead”; imputare, “to take credit for,” &c.; (c) restricted to Tacitus himself, e.g. dispergere = divolgare.
Generally speaking, Tacitus likes to use a simple verb instead of a compound one, after the fashion of the poets, employs a pluperfect for a perfect, and (like Livy and sometimes Caesar) aims at vividness and variety by retaining the present and perfect subjunctive in indirect speech even after historical tenses. Collective words are followed by a plural far more commonly than in Cicero. The ellipse of a verb is more frequent. The use of the cases approximates to that of the poets, and is even more free. The accusative of limitation is common in Tacitus, though never found in Quintilian. Compound verbs are frequently followed by the accusative where the dative might have been expected; and the Virgilian construction of an accusative with middle and passive verbs is not unusual. The dative of purpose and the dative with a substantive in place of a genitive are more common with Tacitus than with any writer. The ablative of separation is used without a preposition, even with names of countries and with common nouns; the ablative of place is employed similarly without a preposition; the ablative of time has sometimes the force of duration; the instrumental ablative is employed even of persons. A large extension is given to the use of the quantitative genitive after neuter adjectives and pronouns, and even adverbs, and to the genitive with active participles; and the genitive of relation after adjectives is (probably by a Graecism) very freely employed. In regard to prepositions, there are special uses of citra, erga, iuxta and tenus to be noted, and a frequent tendency to interchange the use of a preposition with that of a simple case in corresponding clauses. In subordinate sentences quod is used for “the fact that,” and sometimes approaches the later use of “that”; the infinitive follows many verbs and adjectives that do not admit of this construction in classical prose; the accusative and infinitive are used after negative expressions of doubt, and even in modal and hypothetical clauses.
Like Livy, the writers of this time freely employ the subjunctive of repeated action with a relative, and extend its use to relative conjunctions, which he does not. In clauses of comparison and proportion there is frequently an ellipse of a verb (with nihil aliud quam, ut, tanquam); tanquam, quasi and velut are used to imply not comparison but alleged reason; quin and quominus are interchanged at pleasure. Quamquam and quamvis are commonly followed by the subjunctive, even when denoting facts. The free use of the genitive and dative of the gerundive to denote purpose is common in Tacitus, the former being almost limited to him. Livy’s practice in the use of participles is extended even beyond the limits to which he restricts it. It has been calculated that where Caesar uses five participial clauses, Livy has sixteen, Tacitus twenty-four.
In his compressed brevity Tacitus may be said to be individual; but in the poetical colouring of his diction, in the rhetorical cast of his sentences, and in his love for picturesqueness and variety he is a true representative of his time.
70. Suetonius.—The language of Suetonius is of interest as giving a specimen of silver Latinity almost entirely free from personal idiosyncrasies; his expressions are regular and straightforward, clear and business-like; and, while in grammar he does not attain to classical purity, he is comparatively free from rhetorical affectations.
71. The African Latinity.—A new era commences with the accession of Hadrian (117). As the preceding half century had been marked by the influence of Spanish Latinity (the Senecas, Lucan, Martial, Quintilian), so in this the African style was paramount. This is the period of affected archaisms and pedantic learning, combined at times with a reckless love of innovation and experiment, resulting in the creation of a large number of new formations and in the adoption of much of the plebeian dialect. Fronto and Apuleius mark a strong reaction against the culture of the preceding century, and for evil far more than for good the chain of literary tradition was broken. The language which had been unduly refined and elaborated now relapsed into a tasteless and confused patch-work, without either harmony or brilliance of colouring. In the case of the former the subject matter is no set-off against the inferiority of the style. He deliberately attempts to go back to the obsolete diction of writers like Cato and Ennius. We find compounds like altipendulus, nudiustertianus, tolutiloquentia, diminutives such as matercella, anulla, passercula, studiolum, forms like congarrire, disconcinnus, pedetemptius, desiderantissimus (passive), conticinium; gaudeo, oboedio and perfungor are used with an accusative, modestus with a genitive. On the other hand he actually attempts to revive the form asa for ara. In Apuleius the archaic element is only one element in the queer mixture which constitutes his style, and it probably was not intended to give the tone to the whole. Poetical and prosaic phrases, Graecisms, solecisms, jingling assonances, quotations and coinages apparently on the spur of the moment, all appear in this wonderful medley. There are found such extraordinary genitives as sitire beatitudinis, cenae pignerarer, incoram omnium, foras corporis, sometimes heaped one upon another as fluxos vestium Arsacidas et frugum pauperes Ityraeos et odorum divites Arabas. Diminutives are coined with reckless freedom, e.g. diutule, longule, mundule amicta el altiuscule sub ipsas papillas succinctula. He confesses himself that he is writing in a language not familiar to him: In urbe Latia advena studiorum Quiritium indigenam sermonem aerumnabili labore, nullo magistro praeeunte, aggressus excolui; and the general impression of his style fully bears out his confession. Melanchthon is hardly too severe when he says that Apuleius brays like his own ass. The language of Aulus Gellius is much superior in purity; but still it abounds in rare and archaic words, e.g. edulcare, recentari, aeruscator, and in meaningless frequentatives like solitavisse. He has some admirable remarks on the pedantry of those who delighted in obsolete expressions (xi. 7) such as apluda, flocus and bovinator; but his practice falls far short of his theory.
72. The Lawyers.—The style of the eminent lawyers of this period, foremost among whom is Gaius, deserves especial notice as showing well one of the characteristic excellences of the Latin language. It is for the most part dry and unadorned, and in syntax departs occasionally from classical usages, but it is clear, terse and exact. Technical terms may cause difficulty to the ordinary reader, but their meaning is always precisely defined; new compounds are employed whenever the subject requires them, but the capacities of the language rise to the demands made upon it; and the conceptions of jurisprudence have never been more adequately expressed than by the great Romanist jurists. (A. S. W.; R. S. C.)
For the subsequent history of the language see Romance Languages.
- The grounds for this pronunciation will be found best stated in Postgate, How to pronounce Latin (1907), Arnold and Conway, The Restored Pronunciation of Greek and Latin (4th ed., Cambridge, 1908); and in the grammars enumerated in § 28 above, especially the preface to vol. i. of Roby’s Grammar. The chief points about c may be briefly given as a specimen of the kind of evidence. (1) In some words the letter following c varies in a manner which makes it impossible to believe that the pronunciation of the c depended upon this, e.g. decumus and decimus, dīc from Plaut. dīce; (2) if c was pronounced before e and i otherwise than before a, o and u, it is hard to see why k should not have been retained for the latter use; (3) no ancient writer gives any hint of a varying pronunciation of c; (4) a Greek κ is always transliterated by c, and c by κ; (5) Latin words containing c borrowed by Gothic and early High German are always spelt with k; (6) the varying pronunciations of ce, ci in the Romance languages are inexplicable except as derived independently from an original ke, ki.
- The inscription was first published by Helbig and Dümmler in Mittheilungen des deutschen archäol. Inst. Rom. ii. 40; since in C.I.L. xiv. 4123 and Conway, Italic Dial. 280, where other references will be found.
- This inscription was first published by Dressel, Annali dell’ Inst. Archeol. Romano (1880), p. 158, and since then by a multitude of commentators. The view of the inscription as a curse, translating a Greek cursing-formula, which has been generally adopted, was first put forward by R. S. Conway in the American Journal of Philology, x. (1889), 453; see further his commentary Italic Dialects, p. 329, and since then G. Hempl, Trans. Amer. Philol. Assoc. xxxiii. (1902), 150, whose interpretation of iouesat = iurat and Opetoi Tesiai has been here adopted, and who gives other references.
- The most important writings upon it are those of Domenico Comparetti, Iscriz. arcaica del Foro Romano (Florence-Rome, 1900); Hülsen, Berl. philolog. Wochenschrift (1899), No. 40; and Thurneysen, Rheinisches Museum (Neue Folge), iii. 2. Prof. G. Tropea gives a Cronaca della discussione in a series of very useful articles in the Rivista di storia antica (Messina, 1900 and 1901). Skutsch’s article already cited puts the trustworthy results in an exceedingly brief compass.
- For further information see special articles on these authors, and Latin Literature.
- Cicero also refers to certain scripta dulcissima of the son of Scipio Africanus Maior, which must have possessed some merits of style.
- The study of the rhythm of the Clausulae, i.e. of the last dozen (or half-dozen) syllables of a period in different Latin authors, has been remarkably developed in the last three years, and is of the highest importance for the criticism of Latin prose. It is only possible to refer to Th. Zielinski’s Das Clauselgesetz in Cicero’s Reden (St. Petersburg, 1904), reviewed by A. C. Clark in Classical Review, 1905, p. 164, and to F. Skutsch’s important comments in Vollmöller’s Jahresberichten über die Fortschritte der romanischen Philologie (1905) and Glotta (i. 1908, esp. p. 413), also to A. C. Clark’s Fontes Prosae Numerosae (Oxford, 1909), The Cursus in Mediaeval and Vulgar Latin (ibid. 1910), and article Cicero.