28 votes
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A story of a king who wanted to simplify Latin grammar

It sounds like you're talking about this incident involving the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund at the Council of Constance in 1414: …A similar anecdote is told of the German Emperor Sigismund. When ...
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23 votes
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Historicity doubted by Romans

Titus Livius, an excellent scholar even by modern standards, was very conscious of the problem of source reliability. Consider the beginning of Liv. 26 49: tum obsides ciuitatium Hispaniae uocari ...
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19 votes
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What was a language for the Romans?

The Greeks were keenly aware of dialectal differences, and long before the Romans came on the scene, the Greeks had already categorized their dialects into three or four common groups: Ionic (with ...
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18 votes
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Descriptive example of Cicero's style

The first example that comes to my mind is the beginning of the Second Catilinarian: Tandem aliquando, Quirites, L. Catilinam furentem audacia, scelus anhelantem, pestem patriae nefarie molientem, ...
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16 votes
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Numbering of persons

This numbering goes back to Greek grammarians. Here is the Τέχνη Γραμματική (Art of Grammar) ascribed to Dionysius Thrax: πρώσοπα τρία, πρῶτον, δεύτερον, τρίτον· πρῶτον μὲν ἀφ᾽ οὗ ὁ λόγος, δεύτερον ...
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15 votes

Historicity doubted by Romans

Lucian of Samosata, a satirist writing in the second century CE, never had much regard for historians. His most famous work, the Alēthē Diēgēmata ("True Histories"), specifically mocks the ...
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13 votes
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How did the Romans congratulate a new father?

Here's Cicero, congratulating his friend Atticus on the birth of the latter's daughter (Ad Atticum 5.19): Filiolam tuam tibi iam Romae iucundam esse gaudeo, eamque quam numquam vidi tamen et amo et ...
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11 votes

Where to find an online Latin text corpus and what can I do with it?

The PHI Classical Latin Texts Database http://latin.packhum.org The Packard Humanities Institute provides free access to Latin Litterature texts from the beginning to ~200 AD. There are currently ...
11 votes
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Ancient guides or descriptions of punctuation

The first thing to note when looking at passages and remarks by Romans about “punctuation” is that it is not always clear at first glance whether they are discussing elements of oral delivery or ...
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  • 8,301
11 votes

Hushing with a finger gesture

I found a non-classical reference to this gesture in the Metamorphoses (or Golden Ass) of Apuleius (AD 124-170): At ille, digitum a pollice proximum ori suo admovens et in stuporem attonitus, ‘Tace,...
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11 votes
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Hushing with a finger gesture

The Egyptian god Harpocrates was typically depicted as a boy with his finger held to his lips. Example here. He makes a few appearances in classical literature, such as Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.692: ...
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10 votes

What errors did the Greeks typically make in Latin?

Well, here's one example I found: nam contra Graeci adspirare ei solent, ut pro Fundanio Cicero testem qui primam eius litteram dicere non possit inridet. the Greeks on the other hand ...
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10 votes
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Are there classical examples of the imperative patere?

I don't know of a good way to distinguish patere from patēre in a corpus search, so I think you have three choices: Look through the results. Come up with another search that captures what you are ...
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10 votes
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Did Plato describe man as "a being in search of meaning"?

As is often the case with these quotes, it's actually a summary of a summary of Plato. We see an early version in Ernst Cassirer's 1944 essay An Essasy on Man: It is impossible—says Plato in the ...
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9 votes
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Did the ancients write that their sculpture is painted?

Stumbled upon this researching another answer: Cyprio si addatur plumbum, colos purpurae fit in statuarum praetextis. The addition of lead to Cyprus copper produces the purple colour seen in ...
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8 votes
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Origin of the following phrase: Ambulatoria enim est voluntas hominum usque ad vitae supremum exitum

The phrase is actually slightly different: ambulatoria enim est voluntas defuncti usque ad vitae supremum exitum. This means: For the will of a dead man is changeable until his final departure ...
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8 votes

Descriptive example of Cicero's style

Hic enim dies vobis, patres conscripti, inluxit, haec potestas data est, ut, quantum virtutis, quantum constantiae, quantum gravitatis in huius ordinis consilio esset, populo Romano declarare possetis....
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8 votes
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Inscriptions in statues along Via dei Fori Imperiali

The Via dei Fori Imperiali was built at the initiative of Mussolini. At the time it caused some controversy about the care for archaeological and sacred Catholic sites, as well as the displacement of ...
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8 votes
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"Memento quod es homo"

Francis Bacon is referencing previous "remembrances" The beginning of the epilogue to The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology, by Ernst Kantorowicz, references this quotation ...
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8 votes

Good travel literature written in medieval Latin?

The French catalog Arlima proposes a list of such works: http://www.arlima.net/uz/voyage.html Bernard le Sage, Itinerarium Burchardus de Monte Sion Giovanni de' Marignolli, Chronica Bohemorum ...
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  • 2,222
8 votes

Is the Abrahamic god ever named in Classical-era Latin or Greek?

The Wikipedia article on Tetragrammaton gives a long list of examples from Greek and Latin in early manuscripts and patristic writing. The overwhelming majority use "Lord", but a few use proper ...
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  • 2,546
7 votes

Good travel literature written in medieval Latin?

I know of two works that fall slightly outside the boundaries of your question but that I'll mention just in case they might be useful. The first is the Itinerarium Egeriæ, which was written, as far ...
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7 votes

Where to find an online Latin text corpus and what can I do with it?

This is a meta-answer on How to find Latin corpora? Go to the Virtual Language Observatory (run by the European Union financed CLARIN project), search all resources and restrict the search to Latin ...
7 votes
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Independence in classical Latin

Lewis and Short define “libertas” as (among other things) “Political freedom, liberty, or independence of a people not under monarchical rule, or not subject to another people (opp. servitus and ...
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  • 15.7k
7 votes

Good examples of common gender nouns

Bōs, bovis, m/f This is the usual type of common-gender noun. In the feminine, it means "cow". Livy 1.7.6: Inde cum actae boves quaedam ad desiderium, ut fit, relictarum mugissent, reddita ...
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7 votes
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Classical example of homesickness

Nostalgia is definitely a modern word. It was first coined by Johannes Hofer in 1688 in his Dissertatio Medica de Nostalgia. About devising the word, he wrote: (from Nostalgia: Origins and Ends of ...
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7 votes
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Good examples of common gender nouns

Bos, given in the previous answer, is a great example. Here are a few more: fur fures estis ambae. (Plaut. Poen. 5, 4, 67) M. Carbo condemnatus, fur magnus, e Sicilia... (Cic. Fam. 9, 21, 3) ...
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7 votes

Where did the Romans think Latin comes from?

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in his Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἀρχαιολογία (Roman Antiquities) 1.90, explains that Latin was actually a dialect of Greek, corrupted by contact with European barbarians: Ῥωμαῖοι δὲ φωνὴν ...
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7 votes
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Ancient accounts of traffic

Juv. 3: raedarum transitus arto vicorum in flexu et stantis convicia mandrae eripient somnum Druso vitulisque marinis. "The continual traffic of carriages in the narrow twisting streets and the ...
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7 votes
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How did dogs and wolves compare in the Roman mind?

It seems that interbreeding between wolves and dogs was deemed possible in Roman culture at least at the time of Pliny the Elder (I cent. CE.) But so was the idea of interbreeding between dogs and ...
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