World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Renaissance Latin

Article Id: WHEBN0001061669
Reproduction Date:

Title: Renaissance Latin  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Latin literature, Vulgar Latin, History of Latin, Latin, Old Latin
Collection: Forms of Latin, History of Literature, Latin Language, Latin Literature, Medieval Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Renaissance Latin

Renaissance Latin
Mural of Dante in the Uffizi Gallery, by Andrea del Castagno, c. 1450.
Native to The administrations and universities of numerous countries
Region Europe
Era Evolved from Medieval Latin in the 14th century; developed into New Latin by the 16th century
Latin alphabet 
Official status
Official language in
Most Roman Catholic countries
Regulated by The community of scholars at the earliest universities
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None

Renaissance Latin is a name given to the distinctive form of Latin style developed during the European Renaissance of the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries, particularly by the Renaissance humanism movement.


  • Ad fontes 1
  • Renaissance Latin works and authors 2
    • 14th century 2.1
    • 15th century 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Ad fontes

Ad fontes was the general cry of the humanists, and as such their Latin style sought to purge Latin of the medieval Latin vocabulary and stylistic accretions that it had acquired in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. They looked to golden age Latin literature, and especially to Cicero in prose and Virgil in poetry, as the arbiters of Latin style. They abandoned the use of the sequence and other accentual forms of metre, and sought instead to revive the Greek formats that were used in Latin poetry during the Roman period. The humanists condemned the large body of medieval Latin literature as "gothic" — for them, a term of abuse — and believed instead that only ancient Latin from the Roman period was "real Latin".

Some 16th century Ciceronian humanists also sought to purge written Latin of medieval developments in its orthography. They insisted, for example, that ae be written out in full wherever it occurred in classical Latin; medieval scribes often wrote e instead of ae. They were much more zealous than medieval Latin writers that t and c be distinguished; because the effects of palatalization made them homophones, medieval scribes often wrote, for example, eciam for etiam. Their reforms even affected handwriting; Humanists usually wrote Latin in a humanist minuscule script derived from Carolingian minuscule, the ultimate ancestor of most contemporary lower-case typefaces, avoiding the black-letter scripts used in the Middle Ages. It must be said that this sort of writing was particularly vigilant in edited works, so that international colleagues could read them more easily, while in their own handwritten documents the Latin is usually written as it is pronounced in the vernacular. Therefore it must be understood that the first generations of humanists did not dedicate much care to the orthography till the late sixteen and seventeenth century. Erasmus even proposed that the then-traditional pronunciations of Latin be abolished in favour of his reconstructed version of classical Latin pronunciation, even though we can deduce from his works that he himself used the ecclesiastical pronunciation.

The humanist plan to remake Latin was largely successful, at least in education. Schools now taught the humanistic spellings, and encouraged the study of the texts selected by the humanists, to the large exclusion of later Latin literature. On the other hand, while humanist Latin was an elegant literary language, it became much harder to write books about law, medicine, science or contemporary politics in Latin while observing all of the Humanists' norms about vocabulary purging and classical usage.

Renaissance Latin gradually developed into the New Latin of the 16th-19th centuries, used as the language of choice for authors discussing subjects considered sufficiently important to merit an international (i.e., pan-European) audience.

Renaissance Latin works and authors

14th century

For 14th century works and authors that are still medieval in outlook (practically all non Italians) see Medieval Latin

15th century

Incunables by language.[1] Latin dominated printed book production in the 15th century by a wide margin.


  1. ^

External links

  • An Analytic Bibliography of On-line Neo-Latin Titles (also Renaissance Latin).
  • Neo-Latin Humanist Texts at DigitalBookIndex.
  • René Hoven, Lexique de la prose latine de la Renaissance. Dictionary of Renaissance Latin from prose sources, with the collaboration of Laurent Grailet, Leiden, Brill, 2006 (2nd edition), 683 p.
  • The Centre for Neo-Latin Studies, focusing on Irish Renaissance Latin.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.