The Latin language has been a constant in the cultural history of the West for over two millennia. It has shaped the way we think of ourselves and of our (central) place in the world. It has formed and united us as Europeans, has been the foundation of our education for centuries and defined the way in which we express our thoughts, our faith and our knowledge of the workings of the world. And yet, Latin began life as the cumbersome dialect of a small southern Italian city–state.
Its active use lasted three times as long as Rome's Empire and its use echoes on in the law codes of half the world, in terminologies of biology and medicine, and until forty years ago in the litany of the Catholic Church, the most populous form of Christianity.
In 'Ad Infinitum', Nicholas Ostler examines the reasons why Latin made such a long–lasting impact on language, and how it managed to stay alive for two millennia despite the cultural superiority of Greek. He will look at how Latin's sturdy roots remained untouched while empires were raised and fell, the influence of religion, war and the ways it has progressed through medieval times right up until the present day.
The Latin language has proved far more far reaching than its creators. Today it continues to define the way our societies have developed technologically and scientifically and the way we practise law and worship our Christian God.