Sunday, June 22, 2008

In the Time of Erasmus

1895

Then not only all the learned, but all the educated, were familiar with Latin. Whoever read indeed must read Latin, for there was little else to read. Theology, history, philosophy, all were in Latin. The national literatures were only in their cradles. Nearly a century after the time of Erasmus, Bacon deliberately buried his greater works in Latin in the hope of securing his fame, and even Milton chose Latin as the vehicle of some of the best of his early poetry and did not abandon it without hesitation.

To Erasmus it was everything — the language of his tongue as well as of his pen. He traveled everywhere, in Italy, France, England, Germany, but he certainly knew no English or German and apparently made his Latin carry him through wherever he went. And whatever difficulties of language he found with innkeepers and servants and officers of customs he found none among the clergy or the nobles, at whose houses his introductions made him everywhere welcome. — Temple Bar.

1 comment:

J.D. said...

A thousand years or more after the fall of Rome, the language of the Romans--as the language of the church--continued to unite Europe.