Classical Latin

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Classical Latin in simplest terms is the socio-linguistic register of the Latin language regarded by the enfranchised and empowered populations of the late Roman republic and the Roman empire as good Latin. Most writers during this time made use of it. Any unabridged Latin dictionary informs moderns that Marcus Tullius Cicero and his contemporaries of the late republic while using lingua Latina and sermo Latinus to mean the Latin language as opposed to the Greek or other languages, and sermo vulgaris or sermo vulgi to refer to the vernacular of the uneducated masses, regarded the speech they valued most and in which they wrote as Latinitas, "Latinity", with the implication of good. Sometimes it is called sermo familiaris, "speech of the good families", sermo urbanus, "speech of the city" or rarely sermo nobilis, "noble speech", but mainly besides Latinitas it was Latine (adverb), "in good Latin", or Latinius (comparative degree of adjective), "good Latin."

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


Philological constructs

The classical

Good Latin in philology is "classical" Latin literature. The term refers to the canonicity of works of literature written in Latin in the late Roman republic and the early to middle Roman empire: "that is to say, that of belonging to an exclusive group of authors (or works) that were considered to be emblematic of a certain genre."[1] The term classicus (masculine plural classici) was devised by the Romans themselves to translate Greek ἐγκριθέντες (enkrithentes), "select", referring to authors who wrote in Greek that was considered model. Prior to then classis, in addition to being a naval fleet, was a social class in one of the diachronic divisions of Roman society according to property ownership by the Roman constitution.[2] The word is a transliteration into the Latin alphabet of Greek κλῆσις (klēsis), a "calling" of draftees for the army by property: first class, second class, etc., down to fifth class.

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