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INTRODUCTION.

The Latin language was once spoken by the Romans, at first only in a part of Middle Italy, but subsequently in all Italy and in other countries subject. to the Romans. At present it can be learned only from books and the monumental inscriptions of that people.*

The earliest Latin writings that we possess were com * [“ Any inquiry into the origin of the Latin language must involve an inquiry into the languages spoken by the ancient inhabitants of Italy; and our information on this subject, notwithstanding the investigations of Mi. cali, Grotefend, Müller, Lepsius, and other distinguished scholars, is at present very imperfect. So much, however, appears certain, that the Latin language was different from the Etrurian and Oscan, of which the former was spoken by the inhabitants of the northern, and the latter by those of the central and southern parts of Italy. The Latins appear to have originally formed part of that great race which overspread both Greece and Italy under the name of Pelasgians. Their language formed a branch of that extensive family of languages which are known to modern scholars by the name of Indo-Germanic; and it is probable that the Pelasgians who settled in Italy originally spoke the same language as the Pelasgians who settled in Greece. There is consequently a great resemblance between the Latin and Greek languages; though each possesses an element which the other does not. Not only does the Latin language possess many words which it has not in common with the Greek, but also in some parts of its grammatical inflection, as, for instance, in that of the passive voice, it dif. fers considerably from the Greek language. It therefore becomes a question what that element is which the Latin language has not in common with the Greek; and here we must attain some farther knowledge of the languages of ancient Italy before we can answer this question satisfactorily. The Etrurian, so far as our imperfect knowledge of it will enable us to form an opinion on the subject, appears to have exercised little influence upon the formation of the Latin language ; but the Oscan or Opican tongue, on the contrary, seems to have united with the Pelasgian in forming the Latin. Niebuhr (Hist. of Rome, vol. i., p. 82) has remarked that the words which relate to agriculture and domestic life agree in Greek and Latin, as, domus, ager, aratrum, vinum, oleum, lac, bos, sus, ovis, &c., while those re. lating to arms and war, as duellum, ensis, hasta, sagitta, &c., are different from the Greek. But this remark is to be taken with cons able itation, for there are many exceptions both ways; indeed, so many as to render the position itself at least doubtful, and all inferences derived from it consequently inconclusive. The words relating to arms and war may have been Oscan; and it has therefore been supposed by Dr. Arnold (Hist. of Rome, vol. i., P. 22), not only that the Latins were a mixed people, partly Pelasgian and partly Oscan, but also that they arose out of a conquest of the Pe. lasgians by the Oscans, so that the latter were the ruling class of the united nation, and the former its subjects.” — Penny Cyclop., vol. XX., p. 112. Compare Lepsius, Ueber die Tyrrhenischen Pelasger in Etrurien, Leipsig, 1842 ; Donaldson's Varronianus, p. 10, &c.; Baehr, Geschichte der Römischen LiteraLur vol. i., D. 3. &c.; Grotefend, Ali-Italien, Drittes Heft, p. 30.)- Am. Ed

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