Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thomas Aquinas writes bad Latin...

...and should enroll in remedial courses immediately. I think it was he who came up with, or at least popularized, "a priori", one of the most often trotted out philosophical phrases. At any rate, he uses it with abundance.

It should be "a priore", with a short 'e'. In my opinion, everyone who writes Latin should write like Cicero; he's the hallmark of good Latin prose. His Latin, though convoluted on occasion in his speeches, is refined and impeccable. Aquinas should have read more of him. Or at least should have reviewed the declension of comparatives.




5 comments:

grisom said...

Hilarious!

The photo doesn't work, FYI—catholic-forum.com seems to be blocking access to their images unless you navigate to them from their site.

Ben said...

Yeah, anything written after the fall of the Roman Empire often degenerates into a giant pile of agrammatical goo.

Photo should be fixed now.

Matt said...

Contra, I think it was in the Renaissance when people rediscovered Cicero they gave up on Latin as a living language (for an intellectual medium) because everyone decided "Fuck this, it's too goddamn difficult to imitate this guy. Let's just speak and write in vernacular."

*sigh* Those silly 14th century types.

Ben said...

Fair enough, though I think it's equivalent to someone writing 'bcuz' or 'probly' instead of 'probably' in an academic paper.

smr_hill said...

Actually, I think you're being tough on Aquinas! I checked out a grammar (Allen & Greenhough's New Latin Grammar - available at textkit.com). Under declension of comparatives, it gives "meliore" and "meliori" as alternatives for the ablative singular. So "a priori" would be fine.

I'd say that leaves Thomas in the clear...