Adams, op cit, p.9 wrote:ELITE AND SUB-ELlTE BILlNGUALISM: ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE AND ITS SHORTCOMINGS...There is also a good deal of anecdotal and other evidence for fluent bilingualism (in Greek and Latin) among upper-class Romans, though opinions differ as to how it should be interpreted (see below). According to Valerius Maximus, P. Crassus Mucianus as proconsul in Asia Minor in 131 BC was able to use the five Greek dialects...
Adams, op cit, p.11 wrote:On the one hand the educated Roman aspired to be fluent in Greek, but on the other hand it might be seen by some as humiliating to the Roman state if Greek was accepted on a public occasion. Attitudes were constantly changing, and what to Tiberius was unacceptable did not bother Claudius.
It is worth dwelling a IittIe longer on the diversity of anecdotal evidence about upper-class Romans and its interpretation. Not all anecdotal information is about fluent performance in the second language. Lesser degrees of competence are also occasionally acknowledged. Augustus, though he was interested in Greek culture and used code-switching into Greek in his letters (see Suet. Tib. 21.4-6), lacked confidence in the spoken language and was unwilling to speak extempore or to compose his own speeches in Greek: Suet. Aug. 89.1 non tamen ut aut loqueretur expedite aut componere aliquid auderet; nam et si quid res exigeret, Latine formabat uertendumque alii dabat. From the pages of Suetonius we are thus able to deduce a distinction between an individual's written and spoken Greek, or to be more precise between his writing of Greek to fellow Romans in private and his speaking of Greek to Greeks in public. Certainly Augustus did sometimes speak Greek before Greeks. Afler the battle of Actium he addressed the Egyptians and Alexandrians in Greek (D.C. 51.16.4), but no doubt from a prepared text if we are to believe Suetonius. Claudius by contrast could reply to legati in extended speeches in Greek in the senate, and replies would not necessarily have been prepared in advance (Suet. Claud. 42.1 ae saepe in senatu legati perpetua oratione respondit).
Another familiar story concerning poor competence has to do with the humiliation of Roman ambassadors to Tarentum in 282 BC under L. Postumius Megellus. The audience looked for errors in the Greek of Postumius and greeled his efforts with laughter. As the ambassadors left, someone excreted on the ambassadorial robe (D.H. 19.5).
There is even found occasionally an attitude that mistakes in Greek might be made by a Roman deliberately, as a demonstration of Romanness: it would not do (in the eyes of some) to be considered too Greek. Thus, according to Cicero, Lucullus had inserted barbarisms and solecisms in his histories intentionally: Att. 1.19.10 non dicam quod tibi, ut opinor, Panhormi Lucullus de suis historiis dixerat, se, quo facilius illas probaret Romani hominis esse, idcirco barbara quaedam el soloeca dispersisse.
p.13 wrote:A second inadequacy of such evidence is that it concerns a limited number of individuals, and cannot give any real idea of the proportion of educated Romans who were fluent Greek speakers, or (e.g.) of the extent of bilingualism among women as compared with men. I quote Jocelyn (1973: 64): 'Deductions about the general level of Greek knowledge among upper-elass Romans on the basis ofCicero's correspondence with Atticus are ... dubious ... The tone ofthe prefaces to the philosophical dialogues suggests that, at Ihe time these were written, Greek was a special accomplishment and that more men claimed than really possessed an effective knowledge of the language and its literature...
p.14 wrote:It emerges from this section that, while anecdotal evidence concerning the bilingualism of the Roman elite has its interest, it is difficult to interpret, because tendentious assertions cannot always be distinguished from objective linguistic statements. It seems to me pointless to engage in a debate about the extent and quality of elite Roman bilingualism. Bilingualism existed, no doubt in many degrees of competence, but its extent cannot be determined.
p.15 wrote:Concentration on anecdotal evidence for bilingualism (sec further above) to the exclusion of primary sources can have the effect of portraying only the elite as second-language learners. Dubuisson's article (1992), for example, presents on the one hand upper-class Romans as learners of Greek, and on the other hand slaves as basically Greek-speaking (see 189 on Juv. II. 148, a passage which does indeed imply, no doubt with a degree of exaggeration, that slaves were often addressed in Greek (see also below, 3.V, n. 130 on this passage). But if the Greek inscriptions of Rome (and indeed the Latin inscriptions) are examined in detail, evidence emerges for ordinary Greeks learning Latin and showing some concern about the presentation of their linguistic identity.
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