Late Latin (Latin: Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written Latin of late antiquity. English dictionary definitions of Late Latin date this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD, and continuing into the 7th century in the Iberian Peninsula. This somewhat ambiguously defined version of Latin was used between the eras of Classical Latin and Medieval Latin. There is no scholarly consensus about exactly when Classical Latin should end or Medieval Latin should begin. However, Late Latin is characterized (with variations and disputes) by an identifiable style.
Being a written language, Late Latin is not the same as Vulgar Latin. The latter served as ancestor of the Romance languages. Although Late Latin reflects an upsurge of the use of Vulgar Latin vocabulary and constructs, it remains largely classical in its overall features, depending on the author who uses it. Some Late Latin writings are more literary and classical, but others are more inclined to the vernacular. Also, Late Latin is not identical to Christian patristic Latin, used in the theological writings of the early Christian fathers. While Christian writings used a subset of Late Latin, pagans also wrote extensively in Late Latin, especially in the early part of the period.
Late Latin formed when mercenaries from non-Latin-speaking peoples on the borders of the empire were being subsumed and assimilated in large numbers, and the rise of Christianity was introducing a heightened divisiveness in Roman society, creating a greater need for a standard language for communicating between different socioeconomic registers and widely separated regions of the sprawling empire. A new and more universal speech evolved from the main elements: Classical Latin, Christian Latin, which featured sermo humilis (ordinary speech) in which the people were to be addressed, and all the various dialects of Vulgar Latin. The linguist Antoine Meillet wrote, "Without the exterior appearance of the language being much modified, Latin became in the course of the imperial epoch a new language", and, "Serving as some sort of lingua franca to a large empire, Latin tended to become simpler, to keep above all what it had of the ordinary".
Augustine of Hippo (354–430), Late Latin author
|Native to||Roman Empire, Ostrogothic Kingdom, Gallic Empire, Palmyrene Empire|
|Region||Mare Nostrum region|
|Era||3rd to 6th centuries; developed into Medieval Latin|
Official language in
|Both Roman Empires (Later replaced with Koine Greek in the East)|
|Regulated by||Schools of grammar and rhetoric|
The Late-Latin speaking world, AD 271
Neither Late Latin nor Late Antiquity are modern terms or concepts; neither are they ancient; their origin remains obscure. A notice in Harper's New Monthly Magazine of the publication of Andrews' Freund's Lexicon of the Latin Language in 1850 mentions that the dictionary divides Latin into ante-classic, quite classic, Ciceronian, Augustan, post-Augustan and post-classic or late Latin, which indicates the term already was in professional use by English classicists in the early 19th century. Instances of English vernacular use of the term may also be found from the 18th century. The term Late Antiquity meaning post-classical and pre-medieval had currency in English well before then.
Wilhelm Sigismund Teuffel's first edition (1870) of History of Roman Literature defined an early period, the Golden Age, the Silver Age and then goes on to define other ages first by dynasty and then by century (see under Classical Latin). In subsequent editions he subsumed all periods under three headings: the First Period (Old Latin), the Second Period (the Golden Age) and the Third Period, "the Imperial Age", subdivided into the Silver Age, the 2nd century, and Centuries 3–6 together, which was a recognition of Late Latin, as he sometimes refers to the writings of those times as "late." Imperial Latin went on into English literature; Fowler's History of Roman Literature mentions it in 1903.
There are, however, insoluble problems with the beginning and end of Imperial Latin. Politically the excluded Augustan Period is the paradigm of imperiality, and yet the style cannot be bundled with either the Silver Age or with Late Latin. Moreover, in 6th century Italy, the Roman Empire no longer existed; the rule of Gothic kings prevailed. Subsequently the term Imperial Latin was dropped by historians of Latin literature, although it may be seen in marginal works. The Silver Age was extended a century and the final four centuries represent Late Latin.
Low Latin is a vague and often pejorative term that might refer to any post-classical Latin from Late Latin through Renaissance Latin depending on the author. Its origins are obscure but the Latin expression media et infima Latinitas sprang into public notice in 1678 in the title of a Glossary (by today's standards a dictionary) by Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange. The multi-volume set had many editions and expansions by other authors subsequently. The title varies somewhat; most commonly used was Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis. It has been translated by expressions of widely different meanings. The uncertainty is understanding what media, "middle", and infima, "low", mean in this context.
The media is securely connected to Medieval Latin by Cange's own terminology expounded in the Praefatio, such as scriptores mediae aetatis, "writers of the middle age." Cange's Glossary takes words from authors ranging from the Christian period (Late Latin) to the Renaissance, dipping into the classical period if a word originated there. Either media et infima Latinitas refers to one age, which must be the middle age covering the entire post-classical range, or it refers to two consecutive periods, infima Latinitas and media Latinitas. Both interpretations have their adherents.
In the former case the infimae appears extraneous; it recognizes the corruptio of the corrupta Latinitas Cange said his Glossary covered. The two-period case postulates a second unity of style, infima Latinitas, translated into English as "Low Latin" (which in the one-period case would be identical to media Latinitas). Cange in the glossarial part of his Glossary identifies some words as being used by purioris Latinitatis scriptores, such as Cicero (of the Golden Age). He has already said in the Preface that he rejects the ages scheme used by some: Golden Age, Silver Age, Brass Age, Iron Age. A second category are the inferioris Latinitatis scriptores, such as Apuleius (Silver Age). The third and main category are the infimae Latinitatis scriptores, who must be post-classical; that is, Late Latin, unless they are also medieval. His failure to state which authors are low leaves the issue unresolved.
He does however give some idea of the source of his infima, which is a classical word, "lowest", of which the comparative degree is inferior, "lower." In the Preface he opposes the style of the scriptores aevi inferioris (Silver Age) to the elegantes sermones, "elegant speech", the high and low styles of Latinitas defined by the classical authors. Apparently Cange was basing his low style on sermo humilis, the simplified speech devised by Late Latin Christian writers to address the ordinary people. Humilis (humble, humility) means "low", "of the ground". The Christian writers were not interested in the elegant speech of the best or classical Latin, which belonged to their aristocratic pagan opponents. Instead they preferred a humbler style lower in correctness, so that they might better deliver the gospel to the vulgus or "common people."
Low Latin in this view is the Latin of the two periods in which it has the least degree of purity, or is most corrupt. By corrupt du Cange only meant that the language had resorted to non-classical vocabulary and constructs from various sources, but his choice of words was unfortunate. It allowed the "corruption" to extend to other aspects of society, providing fuel for the fires of religious (Catholic vs. Protestant) and class (conservative vs. revolutionary) conflict. Low Latin passed from the heirs of the Italian renaissance to the new philologists of the northern and Germanic climes, where it became a different concept.
In Britain, Gildas' view that Britain fell to the Anglo-Saxons because it was morally slack was already well known to the scholarly world. The northern Protestants now worked a role reversal: if the language was "corrupt" it must be symptomatic of a corrupt society, which indubitably led to a "decline and fall", as Edward Gibbon put it, of imperial society. Writers taking this line relied heavily on the scandalous behavior of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the bad emperors reported by Tacitus and other writers and later by the secret history of Procopius, who hated his royal employers to such a degree that he could not contain himself about their real methods and way of life any longer. They, however, spoke elegant Latin. The Protestants changed the scenario to fit their ideology that the church needed to be purified of corruption. For example, Baron Bielfeld, a Prussian officer and comparative Latinist, characterised the low in Low Latin, which he saw as medieval Latin, as follows:
French: Le quatrieme âge de la langue Latine, est celui où pendant le reste du moyen âge & les premiers siecles des temps modernes, le Latin tomba successivement dans une telle décadence, que ce ne fut plus qu’un jargon barbare. C’est au Latin de cet âge qu’on a donné le nom de basse Latinité ; […] en effet […] tellement corrompu, altéré, mêlé d’expressions étrangeres […] Et que pouvoit-on espérer pour la langue Latine d’un temps où des Nations Barbares pénétrerent dans toute l’Europe, & sur-tout en Italie, où l’Empire d’Orient étoit gouverné par des imbécilles, où les moeurs étoient abominables, où les arts & les sciences étoient comme anéantis, où les Prêtres & les Moines, &c. étoient les seuls lettrés, & néanmoins les plus ignorans & les plus ineptes personnages du monde. Aussi faut-il ranger sous ces temps ténébreux ce Latin absurde qu’on nommoit lingua Ecclesiastica, & qu’on ne sauroit lire sans dégoût. The fourth age of the Latin tongue is that of the remainder of the middle age, and the 1st centuries of modern times, during which the language fell by degrees into so great a decadency, that it became nothing better than a barbarous jargon. It is the style of these times that is given the name of Low Latin. ... What indeed could be expected from this language, at a time when the barbarians had taken possession of Europe, but especially of Italy; when the empire of the east was governed by idiots; when there was a total corruption of morals; when the priests and monks were the only men of letters, and were at the same time the most ignorant and futile mortals in the world. Under these times of darkness, we must, therefore, rank that Latin, which is called lingua ecclesiastica, and which we cannot read without disgust.— The Elements of Universal Erudition, containing an Analytical Abrigement of the Sciences, Polite Arts and Belles Lettres
As ‘Low Latin’ tends to be muddled with Vulgar Latin, Late Latin and Medieval Latin and has unfortunate extensions of meaning into the sphere of socioeconomics, it has gone out of use by the mainstream philologists of Latin literature. A few writers on the periphery still mention it, influenced by the dictionaries and classic writings of former times.
As Teuffel's scheme of the Golden Age and the Silver Age is the generally accepted one, the canonical list of authors should begin just after the end of the Silver Age, regardless of what 3rd century event is cited as the beginning; otherwise there are gaps. Teuffel gave the end of the Silver Age as the death of Hadrian at 138 AD. His classification of styles left a century between that event and his final period, the 3rd–6th centuries BC, which was in other systems being considered Late Antiquity.
Starting with Charles Thomas Crutwell's A History of Roman Literature from the Earliest Period to the Death of Marcus Aurelius, which first came out in 1877, English literary historians have included the spare century in Silver Latin. Accordingly, the latter ends with the death of the last of the five good emperors in 180 AD. Other authors use other events, such as the end of the Nervan–Antonine dynasty in 192 AD or later events. A good round date of 200 AD gives a canonical list of nearly no overlap.
The transition between Late Latin and Medieval Latin is by no means as easy to assess. Taking that media et infima Latinitas was one style, Mantello in a recent handbook asserts of "the Latin used in the middle ages" that it is "here interpreted broadly to include late antiquity and therefore to extend from c. AD 200 to 1500." Although recognizing "late antiquity" he does not recognize Late Latin. It did not exist and Medieval Latin began directly at 200 BC. In this view all differences from Classical Latin are bundled as though they evolved through a single continuous style.
Of the two-style interpretations the Late Latin period of Erich Auerbach and others is one of the shortest: "In the first half of the 6th century, which witnessed the beginning and end of Ostrogoth rule in Italy, Latin literature becomes medieval. Boethius was the last 'ancient' author and the role of Rome as the center of the ancient world, as communis patria, was at an end." In essence, the lingua franca of classical vestiges was doomed when Italy was overrun by the Goths, but its momentum carried it one lifetime further, ending with the death of Boethius in AD 524.
Not everyone agrees that the lingua franca came to an end with the fall of Rome, but argue that it continued and became the language of the reinstituted Carolingian Empire (predecessor of the Holy Roman Empire) under Charlemagne. Toward the end of his reign his administration conducted some language reforms. The first recognition that Late Latin could not be understood by the masses and therefore was not a lingua franca was the decrees of 813 AD by synods at Mainz, Rheims Tours that from then on preaching was to be done in a language more understandable to the people, which was stated by Tours Canon 17 as rustica Romana lingua, identified as proto-Romance, the descendant of Vulgar Latin. Late Latin as defined by Meillet was at an end; however, Pucci's Harrington's Mediaeval Latin sets the end of Late Latin when Romance began to be written, "Latin retired to the cloister" and "Romanitas lived on only in the fiction of the Holy Roman Empire." The final date given by those authors is AD 900.
The combination of features specific to Vulgar Latin and Ecclesiastical Latin had the effect, then, of transforming the language by the fourth century into something of extraordinary vigor.
The third or Imperial Period lasts from 14 A. D. to the beginning of the Middle Ages.
The Areopagus () is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Its English name is the Late Latin composite form of the Greek name Areios Pagos, translated "Ares Rock" (Ancient Greek: Ἄρειος Πάγος). In classical times, it functioned as the court for trying deliberate homicide, wounding and religious matters, as well as cases involving arson or olive trees.
Ares was supposed to have been tried here by the gods for the murder of Poseidon's son Halirrhothius (a typical example of an aetiological myth).Camerlengo
Camerlengo (plural: camerlenghi, Italian for "Chamberlain") is an Italian title of medieval origin. It derives from the late Latin camarlingus, in turn coming, through the Frankish kamerling, from the Latin camerarius, which meant "chamber officer" (generally meaning "treasure chamber").Champion
A champion (from the late Latin campio) is the victor in a challenge, contest or competition.
There can be a territorial pyramid of championships, e.g. local, regional / provincial, state, national, continental and world championships, and even further (artificial) divisions at one or more of these levels, as in soccer. Their champions can be accordingly styled, e.g. national champion, world champion.Common ringed plover
The common ringed plover or ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula) is a small plover that breeds in Arctic Eurasia. The genus name Charadrius is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate. It derives from Ancient Greek kharadrios a bird found in ravines and river valleys (kharadra, "ravine"). The specific hiaticula is Latin and has a similar meaning to the Greek term, coming from hiatus, "cleft" and -cola, "dweller" (colere, "to dwell").Deus
Deus (Classical Latin: [ˈde.ʊs]) is the Latin word for "god" or "deity".
Latin deus and dīvus ("divine") are in turn descended from Proto-Indo-European *deiwos, "celestial" or "shining", from the same root as *Dyēus, the reconstructed chief god of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon.
In Classical Latin, deus (feminine dea) was a general noun referring to a deity, while in technical usage a divus or diva was a figure who had become divine, such as a divinized emperor. In Late Latin, Deus came to be used mostly for the Christian God.
It was inherited by the Romance languages in French Dieu, Spanish Dios, Portuguese and Galician Deus, Italian Dio, etc., and by the Celtic languages in Welsh Duw and Irish Dia.Encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Roman Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop. The word comes from Late Latin encyclios (from Latin encyclius, a Latinization of Greek ἐγκύκλιος enkyklios meaning "circular", "in a circle", or "all-round", also part of the origin of the word encyclopedia).
The term has been used by Catholics, Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox.Festoon
A festoon (from French feston, Italian festone, from a Late Latin festo, originally a festal garland, Latin festum, feast) is a wreath or garland hanging from two points, and in architecture typically a carved ornament depicting conventional arrangement of flowers, foliage or fruit bound together and suspended by ribbons. The motif is sometimes known as a swag when depicting fabric or linen.In modern English the verb forms, especially "festooned with", are often used very loosely or figuratively to mean having any type of fancy decoration or covering.Gammon (meat)
Gammon is the hind leg of pork after it has been cured by dry-salting or brining, which may or may not be smoked. Unlike most ham, but like bacon, it must be cooked before it is safe to eat. The term is mostly used in Britain, while other dialects of English largely make no distinction between gammon and ham.
Ham hock, gammon hock, or knuckle, is the foot end of the joint, and contains more connective tissue and sinew.In Britain, joints of cooked gammon are often served at Christmas or on Boxing Day.
The word 'gammon' is derived from the Middle English word for 'ham', gambon, which is attested since the early 15th century and derived from Old North French gambon, itself derived from Old French jambon, which is identical to the modern French word for 'ham'. Old French jambon is attested since the 13th century and is derived from Old French jambe (gambe in Old North French) which in turn is derived from the Late Latin gamba, meaning 'leg/hock of a horse/animal', which can ultimately be traced to Greek kampe meaning 'a bending/a joint'. In some English dialects a similarly derived 'gambol' refers to a 'leg'.Ides of March
The Ides of March (; Latin: Idus Martiae, Late Latin: Idus Martii) was a day in the Roman calendar that corresponds to 15 March. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts. In 44 BC, it became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar which made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history.Magnate
A magnate, from the late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus, "great", is a noble or a man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities. In reference to the Middle Ages, the term is often used to distinguish higher territorial landowners and warlords such as counts, earls, dukes, and territorial-princes from the baronage, and in Poland for the richest Szlachta.Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in Roman Catholic Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In this region it served as the primary written language, though local languages were also written to varying degrees. Latin functioned as the main medium of scholarly exchange, as the liturgical language of the Church, and as the working language of science, literature, law, and administration.
Medieval Latin represented, in essence, a continuation of Classical Latin and Late Latin, with enhancements for new concepts as well as for the increasing integration of Christianity. Despite some meaningful differences from Classical Latin, Medieval writers did not regard it as a fundamentally different language. There is no real consensus on the exact boundary where Late Latin ends and Medieval Latin begins. Some scholarly surveys begin with the rise of early Ecclesiastical Latin in the middle of the 4th century, others around 500, and still others with the replacement of written Late Latin by written Romance languages starting around the year 900.
The terms Medieval Latin and Ecclesiastical Latin are often used synonymously, though some scholars draw distinctions. Ecclesiastical Latin refers specifically to the form that has been used by the Roman Catholic Church, whereas Medieval Latin refers more broadly to all of the (written) forms of Latin used in the Middle Ages. The Romance languages spoken in the Middle Ages were often referred to as Latin, since the Romance languages were all descended from Vulgar Latin itself.Officer
An officer is a person who has a position of authority in a hierarchical organization. The term derives from the late Latin from officiarius, meaning "official".Pergola
A pergola is an outdoor garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway, or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support cross-beams and a sturdy open lattice, often upon which woody vines are trained. The origin of the word is the Late Latin pergula, referring to a projecting eave. As a type of gazebo, it may also be an extension of a building or serve as protection for an open terrace or a link between pavilions. They are different from green tunnels, with a green tunnel being a type of road under a canopy of trees.
Pergolas are sometimes confused with arbours ("arbors" in American English), and the terms are often used interchangeably. An arbour is generally regarded as a wooden bench seat with a roof, usually enclosed by lattice panels forming a framework for climbing plants. A pergola, on the other hand, is a much larger and more open structure and does not normally include integral seating.Perineum
The perineum is the space between the anus and scrotum in the male and between the anus and the vulva in the female. The perineum is the region of the body between the pubic symphysis (pubic arch) and the coccyx (tail bone), including the perineal body and surrounding structures. There is some variability in how the boundaries are defined. The perianal area (peri- and anal) is a subset of the perineum.
The perineum is an erogenous zone for both males and females. Perineal tears and episiotomy often occur in childbirth with first-time deliveries, but the risk of these injuries can be reduced by preparing the perineum, often through massage. The word perineum derives from late Latin, from Greek περίνεος perineos perinaeon, peri-, around + inein to discharge or defecate.Pylaeus
In Greek mythology, Pylaeus (Ancient Greek: Πύλαιος), son of Lethus, son of Teutamides, descendant of Pelasgus. He was one of the allies to King Priam in the Trojan War; he commanded the Pelasgian contingent together with his brother Hippothous. Pylaeus is hardly ever mentioned separately from his brother; they are said to have fallen in battle together by Dictys Cretensis and to have been buried "in a garden" according to the late Latin poet Ausonius.Strabo, in his comment on the Homeric passage referenced above, mentions that according to a local tradition of Lesbos, Pylaeus also commanded the Lesbian army and had a mountain on the island named Pylaeus after him.Pylaeus is also an epithet of Hermes.Refectory
A refectory (also frater, frater house, fratery) is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools, and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries. It derives from the Latin reficere "to remake or restore," via Late Latin refectorium, which means "a place one goes to be restored" (cf. "restaurant").Repertoire
See also: Repertory theater or Repertoire (disambiguation).A repertoire () is a list or set of dramas, operas, musical compositions or roles which a company or person is prepared to perform.Musicians often have a musical repertoire. The first known use of the word "repertoire" was in 1847. It is a loan word from the French language, as "répertoire", with a similar meaning in the arts. The origin of the word is from the Late Latin word "repertorium".The concept of a basic repertoire has been extended to refer to groups which focus mainly on performing standard works, as in repertory theater or repertoire ballet.Semipalmated plover
The semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) is a small plover. The genus name Charadrius is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate. It derives from Ancient Greek kharadrios a bird found in ravines and river valleys (kharadra, "ravine"). The specific semipalmatus is Latin and comes from semi, "half" and palma, "palm". Like the English name, this refers to its only partly webbed feet.Virtuoso
A virtuoso (from Italian virtuoso [virˈtwoːzo] or [virtuˈoːso], "virtuous", Late Latin virtuosus, Latin virtus, "virtue", "excellence" or "skill") is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability in a particular art or field such as fine arts, music, singing, playing a musical instrument, or composition. This word also refers to a person who has cultivated appreciation of artistic excellence, either as a connoisseur or collector. The plural form of virtuoso is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine forms are virtuosa and virtuose.
According to Music in the Western civilization by Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin:
...a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public.
The defining element of virtuosity is the performance ability of the musician in question, who is capable of displaying feats of skill well above the average performer.
Especially in music, both critics and musicians have mixed opinions on virtuosity. While the skill implied is clearly positive, musicians focused on virtuosity have been criticized for overlooking substance and emotion in favor of raw technical prowess.More commonly applied in the context of the fine arts, the term can also refer to a "master" or "ace" who excels technically within any particular field or area of human knowledge—anyone especially or dazzlingly skilled at what they do. For instance, Ken Jennings's initial success on Jeopardy! was described as a "virtuoso performance."
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