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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Latro's Greek
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 09:49:34 -0600

Andrew theorizes:
> I think he may have learned Greek in Egypt, on campaign, from the Greek
> contingent in the Persian army. Her 3.1: ""... Cambyses the son of Cyrus
> an army consisting of contingents from all over his empire, including some
> Ionian and Aeolian Greeks." I guess Latro's band somehow ends up as a
> mercenary unit in this army.
> But Rome certainly had dealings with Greek communities in Italy and Sicily
> at this time, so he could have learned it there, I suppose.

Crush replies:
If he learned Greek in Egypt, he would either have been formally taught and
studied Greek writing or he would have "picked it up" as practical Greek
(i.e. he would not be fluent). It is only as children that we become fluent
in a language without learning to write it -- that is, without years and
years of immersion in the language anyway -- which Latro is not old enough
to have had. Also, if he learned it in Egypt, he would have understood the
word "laconic" to mean "related to the Spartan code of brevity of speech" -- 
the proper translation would have been in his mind just as the proper
translation of other Greek words were in his mind.

I reiterate: His reversal of "lakodaemonians" to mean "silent people"
(rather than "like Spartans who are silent") means he had to have learned
the word "laconic" prior to his knowledge of the Spartan code or even
Spartans. So he had to learn the word the same way he learned Greek, as a
child. But his native language is still Latin. World hellenization had not
yet occurred in the 5th century -- it would not have been considered a
matter of course for educated people to learn Greek. So he needed to grow up
in Latium, but near Greek people. Thus I place his home north of or around
Kynai or just north of modern Naples.

-- Crush


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