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Continuing classical Latin
Continuing classical Latin

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1.5 Early Latin: Latin before Plautus

Fragments of archaic Latin law are preserved as the Law of the XII Tables. Early inscriptions survive from the 6th Century BCE. Writing was introduced into Southern Italy by Greek colonists in the early 8th Century BCE, Polybius (c. 200-c. 118 BCE), Greek Historian of Rome. Histories 3.22.3 ‘the Ancient Roman language differs so much from the modern that it can only be partially made out, and that after much application, by the most intelligent men.’ (Translation by W.R. Paton)

Some Early Latin forms:

  • aurum ‘gold’ from earlier ausom
  • iurat ‘he swears’ from earlier iouesat (CIL I² 4).¹º
  • Genitive singular of second declension was – osio; CIL I² 2832a (= Lapis Satricanus) popliosio ualesiosio = Publii Valerii.

Audio activity 5

Now listen to the following audio conversation between James Clackson and Geoffrey Horrocks.

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Before Plautus’ Latin
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