Classical Latin

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The classic Latin was a highly stylized literary language , which is independent from the Old Latin developed. Classical Latin was the language of the educated citizens of the Roman Empire . The Latin spoken by the people ( sermo vulgaris or sermo plebeius ) is called Vulgar Latin .

The earliest Latin literature (for example Cato the Elder , Plautus and Terence ) does not yet belong to classical Latin. The literature of classical Latin is usually divided into two epochs: Golden Latinity (approx. 60 BC to 40 AD) with the authors Cicero , Caesar , Sallust , Livius as well as Virgil and Horace . The following Silver Latinity includes the works of the authors Seneca , Lucan , Pliny , Tacitus and closes with Apuleius (around 170).

In the early imperial era , the differences between classical Latin and popularly spoken Latin increased. Grammar and vocabulary developed apart, as did pronunciation over time. In the first century, the development of the classical Latin language gradually came to a standstill. The forms and words that had previously developed lively became increasingly unchangeable in classical Latin, in contrast to the still lively Vulgar Latin, which showed more and more innovations.

Classical Latin knew neither distinction between upper and lower case ( capital letters and lowercase letters ) or any punctuation marks.


  • Friedrich Stolz, Albert Debrunner: History of the Latin Language. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1966.

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