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Ciceronian declension

Posted by Bruce Kahl on October 25, 2003

In Reply to: Ciceronian declension posted by ESC on October 24, 2003

: : : what's the meaning and origin of "ciceronian declension"?

: I can tell you what the individual words mean.


: Main Entry: Cic·ero
: Pronunciation: 'si-s&-"rO
: Function: biographical name
: Marcus Tullius 106-43 B.C. Roman statesman, lawyer, orator, & author; one of the greatest Roman orators; innovator of Ciceronian rhetoric; staunch defender of republican principles; writings include books of rhetoric, orations, philosophical and political treatises, and letters
: - Cic·ero·nian /"si-s&-'rO-ny&n, -nE-&n/ adjective

: Main Entry: de·clen·sion
: Pronunciation: di-'klen(t)-sh&n
: Function: noun
: Etymology: Middle English declenson, modification of Middle French declinaison, from Latin declination-, declinatio grammatical inflection, turning aside, from declinare to inflect, turn aside
: Date: 15th century
: 1 a : noun, adjective, or pronoun inflection especially in some prescribed order of the forms b : a class of nouns or adjectives having the same type of inflectional forms
: 2 : a falling off or away : DETERIORATION
: - de·clen·sion·al /-'klen(t)-sh&-n&l/ adjective

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-65 BCE) was a politician, orator and speechwriter who had a very elaborate writing style. His parents were very wealthy and like most well-to-do kids back then, he was sent to Greece where he dormed in Athens.

He learned to be a verbal artist--the overstatements in sarcastic vein and all the tricks and devices of rhetorical discipline.

When you look at Ciceronian influences on the language back then and compare that to the Roman language that existed 200 years later you will see differences.
For instance, Cicero would pronounce the word "agricolae" ( which means "farmers" in English) with the -ae sounding like "ay".
200 years or so later when the Roman Catholic church took command of the language the -ae was pronounced as "I".
This is an example of the Ciceronian declension.
So when something is described as being of the "Ciceronian Declension" then that something is being described as being eloquent.
( Not once did I use the L word )