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Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

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Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby Cyborg » Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:24 am

Hi everyone,
I'm trying to pick up Latin again. I had stopped at half the Moreland & Fleischer Latin: an Intensive Course, but I think I'll just start over and hopefully contribute to the Latinist community and post an answer key on Textkit for the whole book. That's my goal now.

But, I'm not here to ask about any of that. It's a little unrelated.

Sometimes I have trouble asking questions about ideas that are still immature in my mind. Let's see how I do.

My basic question is: how do I know all the particularities and details and exceptions of Classical Latin as it really was instead of as it was passed down to us from copyists? For instance, I would think that even though (if what I read is correct) Latin had done away with -os in the nominative but kept it when there was an -v- before, as in seruos and equos, still the copyists would have changed every equos and seruos to equus and seruus, so there must me a different way to know that the Romans in the Classical age were using equos and seruos without our using the copyists copies as evidence (since they would have equus and seruus).

So my question is, is there some sort of book or other publication in which it is explained all of those details which cannot be readily seen in the copyists papyri but that we today know for a fact and acknowledge that that was the way that the Romans actually used their language?

The same question could be posed for their calligraphy. I've seen pictures of papyri but if I'm not mistaken those are never the originals but the copyist's copy, therefore they use the copyist's calligraphy. How can we know the way the Romans actually wrote their As and Bs and Cs?

If my question is too obscure let me know and I'll try to improve it. :)
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby benissimus » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:28 am

My friend, the answer to all your questions is in inscriptions.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby adrianus » Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:40 am

Cyborg wrote:The same question could be posed for their calligraphy. I've seen pictures of papyri but if I'm not mistaken those are never the originals but the copyist's copy, therefore they use the copyist's calligraphy. How can we know the way the Romans actually wrote their As and Bs and Cs?

Vide
Jean Mallon, L'Écriture Latine de la Capitale Romaine à la Minuscule (1939)
Bernard Bishoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (1990)
(graffiti, too, and some evidence of handwritten documents from AD30s decade on— scalpurrigines quoquè in muribus, et pauca chirographorum vestigia quae post tricesimum aevi communis annum scripta sunt)
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby Cyborg » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:04 am

benissime and adriane, thank you for your answers.
So inscriptions is all we have for the kind of thing I'm looking for?
Thanks for the publications, Adriane, I'll look into them, definitely.
But I'm curious to know, has anyone ever published a book on the "real" classical and old Latin (I'm interested in Old Latin as well as in classical Latin) as opposed to the Classical Latin we learn from books and textbooks?
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby Lex » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:20 am

Cyborg wrote:has anyone ever published a book on the "real" classical and old Latin (I'm interested in Old Latin as well as in classical Latin) as opposed to the Classical Latin we learn from books and textbooks?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Latin
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby Iulia » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:26 am

Loeb Classical Library has four volumes, "Remains of Old Latin," compiled by Warmington.
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby Cyborg » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:46 am

Also this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_cursive
Is very interesting.

Thanks Lex and Iulia! Wikipedia is one of my first sources and I've read that page many times. :)

It's a good start to know more about Old Latin, but I still find it too hard to move from that to the "remains" of Old Latin in Classical Latin, as the book that Iulia recommends puts it very adequately (I don't know if it's actually about that, it actually seems to me to be about what little Old Latin documents remain extant to us modern people).
If only I had thought of it as "remains of Old Latin in Classical Latin" when I first posted the original post, my question would not have been so disjointed and unnecessarily long!
That, though, seems like a much harder book to find. I've seen it mentioned in wikipedia that thing about how they still used equos and seruos in Classical times instead of equus and seruus, because of this -v- rule that is not usually taught in textbooks. That is precisely what I'm looking for - those particularities about Classical Latin that are not usually taught in regular textbooks (maybe because it'd be considered to be useless details, and/or because whatever Latin texts the student will read will never use those details, i.e. the texts will always have the very regular equus instead of the exceptional equos) which to me are most interesting.
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby Lex » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:01 am

Bennett's Syntax of Early Latin Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.
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Re: Question: How do we know that EQVOS non EQVVS inter alia?

Postby thesaurus » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:51 pm

I'm not sure if this is what you're asking about, but it's worth noting that spelling was not really standardized in any language previous to the dissemination of the printing-press. Thus if you examine the extant writing of antiquity I'm sure you'll find a healthy variety of spellings of common words, depending on region, education level, and idiosyncrasies.

Also, as you've surely discovered, the terms we use like "Old," "Classical," "Church" Latin etc. are retrospective terms that we've invented to categorize different periods and style of the language. But as with any system of classification, the terms are necessarily artificial and not comprehensive. You'll find exceptions to the rules and categories wherever you turn. While someone like Cicero was aware of the differences between his Latin and that of Ennius and the ancients, I doubt he drew any actual distinction between the two. The fact that he often chooses various forms that would seem archaic in his day shows the fluidity of the varieties.

You'll see similar phenomena in any language, and it's easy to notice in English literature. Where does Old English end and Middle English begin? What about the difference between Early Modern and Modern, or one of the many other such distinctions? Certain authors in the middle-ages chose to adopt many features of Old English as a matter of personal style, and this takes place to varying degrees (depending on the work) in writers from then to today.
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