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Latin Lives

Letter to the Editor, New York Times, December 5, 2007

Mirabile dictu, Latin lives. But not just as a linguistic patrimony. And not merely for reasons of religious tradition. No, the vernacular of Virgil, Cicero and Tacitus still echoes across the sea of time--from the Western rule of law to the Constitution of our "more perfect union" to the ideal of an enduring peace among nations.

Indeed, Pliny's exquisite Latin phrase best describes Rome's global commonwealth: "Immensa Romanae pacis maiestas"--the boundless majesty of the Roman peace. From Scotland to Sudan and from the Iberian peninsula to the Euphrates River, the Roman Empire brought stability, prosperity and good governance to a diversity of peoples.

America's founding fathers derived much inspiration from Caesar Augustus' reformation of the Senate and his righting of an inequitable system of taxation. And George Washington--our pater patriae--was hailed as the American Cincinnatus.

Today's crop of presidential aspirants ought to brush up on their Latin. They might derive a measure of strength and not a little gravitas from mastering humanity's timeless lingua franca.

Rosario Iaconis
Vice Chairman
The Italic Institute of America
Floral Park, N.Y.

 
 

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