A sinewy grasp of Latin imparts Ciceronian clarity
From Rosario A Iaconis,
Emmanuel Macron’s allusion to a Jupiterian presidency is neither a lapsus linguae nor a bit of rhetorical hyperbole (“Latin and Greek are not dead languages in modern France”, November 1). In fact, his predilection for precise Latin locutions is grounded in history, tradition and, yes, gravitas. Had Julius Caesar not been victorious in the Gallic wars, modern France, the French language and the very notion of a Fifth Republic — res publica — might never have come into existence.
Without Rome’s global commonwealth, and the Augustan Reformation, America’s Founding Fathers would have been unable to forge a “more perfect union” or the US constitution. President John F Kennedy could not have inspired the west with “civis Romanus sum” in his speech to a divided Berlin in 1963. And in a world bereft of what Pliny described as the “Immensa Romanae pacis maiestas” (the Immense Majesty of the Roman Peace), there would be no concept of a United Nations.
Mirabile dictu: the vernacular of Virgil, Ovid and Tacitus still echoes across the sea of time. Indeed, it remains the lingua franca of the rule of law, sound governance, science and medicine. Today’s western leaders would be wise to brush up on this classical Italic tongue. For a sinewy grasp of Latin imparts Ciceronian clarity, logic and eloquence.
Rosario A Iaconis Chairman, The Italic Institute of America, Mineola, NY, US