Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Latin Language

Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457), Elegantiarum Libri, praefatio, tr. Christopher S. Celenza, The Italian Renaissance and the Origins of the Modern Humanities: An Intellectual History, 1400-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021), p. 23 (brackets in original):
It is the great sacrament, indeed, the great divinity of the Latin language that in a holy and religious fashion has been defended among pilgrims, barbarians, and enemies for so many centuries, to such a point that we Romans should not lament but rather rejoice and indeed, with the whole world hearkening, take pride. We have lost Rome, we have lost our kingdom, we have lost power — but this is not our fault but that of the times. And yet we rule over most of the world through this more illustrious power: Italy is ours, as are France, Spain, Germany, Pannonia [meaning the territory that is today partially in Hungary, Austria, and Serbia], Dalmatia [today covering much of Croatia], Illyria [modern Albania], and many other nations. For wherever the Roman language dominates, it is there that one finds Roman power.
The Latin, from Eugenio Garin, ed., Prosatori latini del Quattrocento (Milan: Ricciardi, 1952), p. 596:
Magnum ergo latini sermonis sacramentum est, magnum profecto numen quod apud peregrinos, apud barbaros, apud hostes, sancte ac religiose per tot saecula custoditur, ut non tam dolendum nobis Romanis quam gaudendum sit atque ipso etiam orbe terrarum exaudiente gloriandum. Amisimus Romam, amisimus regnum atque dominatum; tametsi non nostra sed temporum culpa; verum tamen per hunc splendidiorem dominatum in magna adhuc orbis parte regnamus. Nostra est Italia, nostra Gallia, nostra Hispania, Germania, Pannonia, Dalmatia, lllyricum, multaeque aliae nationes. Ibi namque romanum imperium est ubicumque romana lingua dominatur.