Rome and the Modern World


‘After conquering the world, Rome impressed her language, laws, customs of living, and modes of thinking upon the subject nations, and they became Roman; and the world has remained largely Roman ever since. Latin continued to live, and the knowledge of Latin was the only light of learning that burned steadily through the dark ages that followed the downfall of the Roman Empire. Latin was the common language of scholars and remained so even down to the days of Shakespeare. Even yet it is more nearly than any other tongue the universal language of the learned. The life of to-day is much nearer the life of ancient Rome than the lapse of centuries would lead one to suppose. You and I are Romans still in many ways, and if Cæsar and Cicero should appear among us, we should not find them, except for dress and language, much unlike men of to-day.’

– D’Ooge. B.L. 1909. Latin For Beginners Boston, Massachusetts, United States: The Athenaeum Press, Ginn and Company (1911) p. 2-3

1 thought on “Rome and the Modern World

  1. Latin continued to live, and the knowledge of Latin was the only light of learning that burned steadily through the dark ages that followed the downfall of the Roman Empire.

    Though true, that proved to be both a blessing and a curse. From 600 to 1600 CE, a full thousand years, it was a crime punishable by death to own a Bible written in any language other than Latin. Only a small percentage of Europeans could read at all, and of those, an even smaller percentage – outside the Church – could read Latin. The majority of Europeans, then, were entirely dependent on the Church and its priesthood for information regarding their religion.

    One father was burned at the stake for translating merely the “Lord’s Prayer” into English for his children.

    In the late 1300’s, the secret society of Culdees chose John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teachings of the organized Church which he believed to be contrary to the Bible, to lead the world out of the Dark Ages.

    The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s CE by Wycliffe. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, he ordered his bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

    One of Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire.

    Popes took their edicts rather seriously.

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