Tag Archives: romance

Arrivederci, Rome

Three things were happening that I think are worth noticing: 1) the Renaissance was a celebration of Humanism—they revived the philosophical thinking of Greece & Rome and toned down the theology of the Catholic Church; 2) the Protestant Reformation happened because people were already dissatisfied with the Church; 3) Latin had become a way to keep regular shmos from reading and understanding the Bible themselves. Renaissance authors figured out that rejecting Latin in favor of vernacular languages was a way they could communicate directly with their readers.

The Roman poet Horace who deserves a lot more respect than I’m giving him in this cartoon

It looks like the intellectuals of that age were all about giving the Church a kick in the shins, and maybe the Church had it coming. One of the themes of this history is how institutions get bloated, entrenched and run by a handful of elites. The regular shmos put up with it for only so long. When somebody invents a way to work around the elites’ communications apparatus, regular shmos seize on it and the elites lose their power. We saw it happen with the invention of the alphabet. Now we’re looking at how movable type busted up the Mediæval Church’s monopoly on reading & writing.

Geoff Chaucer trying out some new lines in Middle English

Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible was in German. German is vernacular—that is, it’s what everyday regular shmos in Saxony spoke. French is vernacular. English is vernacular. Spanish and Italian are vernacular. They are the romance languages that developed from Latin. From the days of the Roman Republic to the Mediæval period, anything worth writing was written in Latin or sometimes Greek. The Renaissance—the 13-, 14- & 1500s—was different. Authors said no thanks to Latin & Greek and began writing literature in their own language. The printing press allowed them to reach a wide audience.

https://www.definitions.net/definition/vernacular+literature
https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/protestant-reformation/
https://www.britannica.com/topic/humanism
https://www.britannica.com/art/Latin-literature

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.

A fine romance

‘Salve’ is Latin for ‘hello’ (so it says on the interwebs) but it doesn’t really fit with the others. Maybe I should have written ‘die enim bona’ (good day).

Back when we were all a lot younger I observed that across the Holy Roman Empire, Latin was turning into vernacular regional languages. Frankish people were speaking something like French, the Alemanni were speaking something like German…meanwhile, good old Latin Classic® was still the language of the Church and government and music and literature. So once again the shmoes got left behind. If you went to Mass, it was celebrated in Latin. The hymns were sung in Latin. Everyone in government spoke Latin; royal edicts were decreed in Latin. If you were sued, the judge heard your case in Latin; the lawyers spoke Latin. If you saw a doctor he’d consult with his colleagues in Latin. All the books, even ones read for entertainment, were written in Latin.

By the way, whenever you come across the term ‘romance language,’ it means a language that grew out of Latin. https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/romance-languages
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-e&q=english+latin+translation

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

The Three Musketeers is here!

A while ago I had the pleasure of working with Starry Forest Books on their version of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers for very young readers. I just got my advance copies so I guess it’s okay to show you the illustrations. 

Here are character designs I submitted to get the job. It’s Porthos, Athos, Aramis and D’Artagnan. They’re based very loosely on the 1973 Richard Lester movie with Frank Finlay, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain and Michael York (screenplay by the mighty George MacDonald Fraser).