I started this term full of excitement for the Latin 101 class that I was taking — “Latin!” I thought to myself, “one of the languages that started it all. The original Romance tongue. The root of almost everything we say.” How delightful, yes?I think my honeymoon phase with this language is coming to an end. I still love learning it — as I love learning any new language — but the more I learn about the ancient Roman culture (in the context of “this is where we came from”) the less thrilled I am with it. For one thing, the Romans stole a lot from the Greeks — I knew that, but I didn’t realize how much they stole. And then we start getting into all the connotations behind words … for example, did you know the word behind “virtue” originally meant “manly”? Ech.
But the connection that has forever discolored Latin in my eyes is below:
bellum : war … neuter, II decl. noun
bellus, bella, bellum : beautiful, pretty, charming, handsome… adjective
That’s right – the neuter form of the word meaning “beautiful” is also the word for “war” … WTF?! How can any culture combine these two concepts into the same word?!? “War” and “Beauty” …? I’m so disgusted and disappointed. You let me down, Latin. I don’t think our relationship will ever be the same again.