Latin, we are told, is coming back as a trendy new subject in progressively minded schools. Latin! Which we have been told for years has been wasting our time, breaking our schoolboy spirits, filling our heads with useless knowledge. Latin is dead!
A priori, itís dead. A fortiori, there is no prima facie case for learning it, ipso facto. Requiescat in pace. And de mortuis nil nisi bonum.
What use is Latin in our modern world? How can it fit you for politics? You may consult omens, in the form of a quiz of the vox populi, or hold a referendum re any crisis, major or minor, but why bring Latin into it?
If economics is your field, you may call for the data on your export quota, adjusting for addenda or errata, plus or minus, till you achieve the maximum (or the optimum) figures down to the last decimal, per cent, per capita and per annum. You will hope for a bonus in the interim . . . but why mention Latin?
English law will grind on, in camera and sub iudice with the help of an affidavit and an alibi or two, in English, as it has since the Magna Carta and habeas corpus. Music will play on without Latin from opus to opera, and so will the church from Te Deum to Magnificat. Modern medicine will assure us that Homo sapiens has no Latin in him from the cranium to the tibia and everything in the garden will be lovely from the quercus to the geranium.
Away with it, we say, these useless impedimenta. Mens sana in corpore sano. It was all very well centuries ago, but tempus fugit. Anno domini has changed all that. We have had enough of the status quo. Britons never, never, never shall be slaves of a dead language. [Nor will Americans. E pluribus unum. Annuit cúptis. Novus ordo seclorum.] Floreat Britannia!
They used to say the Greeks had a word for it. But how could they, and how could the Romans, know what to call such modern inventions as the automobile, the accelerator, the omnibus, aeroplanes, gramophones, photographs, telephones, stereo, video, radio, and television? They had never seen a computer or a supermarket. What would they make of an astronaut? Confronted with unisex, words would fail them.
Latin loversóand we know what they got up toómay murmur ĎAmor vincit omniaí and other sweet nothings, but they should get back to terra firma. We know that they are non compos mentis (and probably in flagrante delicto as well). They should be shown the exit. There is only one sine qua non of progress, i.e., e.g., and viz.: change. Mutatis mundatis, pro tem, pro rata, and pro bono publico. By Jupiter! In vino veritas. Ars longa, vita brevis, and we have wasted quite enough time being told the uses of Latin ad hoc, ad infinitum, ad lib, and ad naus. Let us write finis to the whole business. It is dead.
Quod erat, by the way, demonstrandum.