by Christopher Francese
The word histories in this book use language as a window into the culture of ancient Rome. The hidden stories behind common Latin words illustrate interesting aspects of Roman life, while more rare terms shed light on noteworthy facets of this ancient culture.
Avoiding traditional caricatures of the Romans as uniquely noble or depraved, this book uses the Latin vocabulary to figure out what mattered to the Romans themselves, and how they thought about it. Interweaving quotations, anecdotes, and analysis in a lighthearted and readable way, Francese holds the mirror of language up to the obsessions and blind spots of the Romans, and by extension to some of our own as well.
Includes word histories of almost 100 classical Latin terms
Divided by areas of social life, such as childhood, status & class, technology, debauchery, crime & punishment, and insults
Features common words like dignitas, plebs, and alumnus, and rare terms like fascinum, pistor, and carnifex
"Francese excels at elucidating the social and cultural implications of language, and is particularly good at showing how the use and development of the Romans' language reflect the history of their culture. ...I recommend this book not only for its primary intended audience of general readers, but also for classroom use. The intended reader will receive a good introduction to an interesting assortment of Latin words and to roughly a millennium's worth of Roman cultural and social history." - Betty Rose Nagle, Indiana University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.07.30
Paperback: 248 pages