The Language of the Roman Empire

Latin was used throughout the Roman Empire, but it shared space with a host of other languages and dialects, including Greek, Oscan and Etruscan, which give us a unique perspective on the ancient world.

Latin may be the language that we associate with the Roman Empire, but the question of whether the Romans spoke Latin does not have a simple answer. Rome grew from a tiny community in the middle of a culturally diverse peninsula into an empire that reached from Britain to Syria. As Rome’s power spread, Romans interacted with speakers of dozens of other languages – and made them into fellow citizens. The Romans’ love of Greek culture meant that the Greek language also had a central place in Roman society, while Rome itself was a city of immigrants and slaves, many of whom brought their languages with them.

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