Fatalis alea incertis jactibus in hujus vitae tabula mortales eludit
Our life is a board game on which the dice of fate with its unexpected throws tries to trick mortal men

History of the Latin Language

he Latin language has existed for some 2500 years and there still exist vast numbers of documents written in Latin on papyrus, vellum (animal skin) and paper. Some of the literary works produced during the Classical period about 2000 years ago, when such famous authors as Cicero, Horace, Virgil and Ovid were writing, have survived (though much was lost in the intervening period). We have a large amount written by the Church Fathers, such as Augustine and Jerome, during the period 250-600 CE, which includes not only theological works but also letters between friends all over the Roman Empire, poetry and saints' lives. Even greater in volume is the huge range of writings surviving from the Middle Ages down to 1600 and beyond - histories, hymns, legal and administrative documents (most of which are preserved in the National Archives, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/), letters, literary works of poetry and prose, theological, philosophical and scientific works.

ver this period, written Latin remained quite conservative, which meant that it was very suited to being a literary lingua franca throughout Europe, though it did admit new words for things that had not existed in classical Rome (e.g. monachus for 'monk' or molendinum for 'mill') and new meanings (oratio which took on the meaning of 'prayer' as well as 'speech') so as to take account of changes in society. Meanwhile spoken Latin gradually developed into the Romance languages of Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian and other dialects, while English was heavily influenced by Latin directly, as well as (after the Norman Conquest) by French: eventually these languages took over from Latin in modern Europe, though Latin is still used in certain places and contexts, such as in the Vatican in Rome (www.vatican.va/latin/latin_index.html).


Latin Text Meum est propositum in taberna mori, ut sint vina proxima morientis ori
My plan is to die in a pub so that I'll have a drink close to my lips as I fade away



Simia simia est, etiamsi aurea gestet insignia
An ape is an ape even if it wears smart clothes