Latinity: Rhetoric and Anxiety after Antiquity

Graham Barrett, Oren Margolis

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This introduction sets the scene for six essays devoted to the study of the discourse of Latin. Despite the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, Latin remained the dominant code of communication in European society for a millennium. And yet in the minds of many of its most prolific users and commentators, it has experienced a continuous cycle of existential crises. After multiple reappraisals and re-fashionings of Latinity in the early and high Middle Ages, the self-conscious definition of language and its relationship to culture which arose in fourteenth-century Italy led to the bestowal of the much-controverted title of “renaissance” on the ensuing age. But, with respect to Latinity, was (and is) this label a distinction without a difference? Not only in the Quattrocento, but also in earlier and later eras, cultivating “good Latin”, however this was defined, and indeed being seen to cultivate it were matters of the utmost importance, an inexhaustible wellspring of sociocultural capital. Our object here is to study the language of the language itself: the value attributed to Latin, its standing vis-à-vis other languages, the qualities linked with it, and the issues in which it was implicated. Our remit is Latinity after Antiquity, and the six essays which follow range from late antique North Africa to nineteenth-century Hungary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Latinity
  • sociocultural history
  • Renaissance humanism
  • John Tiptoft
  • Gregory of Tours

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