Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin
The Latin language has been the one constant in the cultural history of the West for more than two millennia. It has been the foundation of our education, and has defined the way in which we express our thoughts, our faith, and our knowledge of how the world functions. Indeed, the language has proved far more enduring than its empire in Rome, its use echoing on in the law codes of half the world, in the terminologies of modern science, and until forty years ago, in the liturgy of the Catholic Church. It is the unseen substance that makes us members of the Western world.
In his erudite and entertaining "biography," Nicholas Ostler shows how and why (against the odds, through conquest from within and without) Latin survived and thrived even as its creators and other languages failed. Originally the dialect of Rome and its surrounds, Latin supplanted its neighbors to become, by conquest and settlement, the language of all Italy, and then of Western Europe and North Africa. Its cultural creep toward Greek in the East led it to copy and then ally with it in an unprecedented, but invincible combination: Greek theory and Roman practice, delivered through Latin, became the foundation of Western civilization. Christianity, a latecomer, then joined the alliance, and became vital to Latin's survival when the empire collapsed. Spoken Latin re-emerged as a host of new languages, from Portuguese and Spanish in the west to Romanian in the east. But a knowledge of Latin lived on as the common code of European thought, and inspired the founders of Europe's New World in the Americas. E pluribus unum.
Illuminating the extravaganza of its past, Nicholas Ostler makes clear that, in a thousand echoes, Latin lives on, ad infinitum.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - NielsenGW - LibraryThing
Nicholas Ostler’s Ad Infinitum is a monumental effort to catalog the travels and metamorphosis of the Latin language throughout European history. Latin changed in varying degrees based on the peoples ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - gmicksmith - LibraryThing
This is an insightful volume, reviewing the history of the West from an unusual angle, the Latin language. Along the way the reader can discover many gems into language in general and the specific ... Read full review
Ad infinitumAn Empire Lived in Latin
Fons et origoLatins Kin
Sub rosaLatins Etruscan Stepmother
Cut bono?Romes Winning Ways
ExcelsiorLooking Up to Greek
Felix coniunctioA Partnership of Paragons
Urbi et orbiTaking Over the Church
Vox populi vox deiLatin as the Bond of Unity