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Lance Armstrong: corrupt optima pessima

Friday, 18 January, 2013

Latin “In English you say ‘the corruption of the best one is horrible'; in Latin, three words suffice: ‘corrupt optima pessima‘. It is a language which helps to think with precision and sobriety. And it has produced an exceptional heritage of science, knowledge and faith.” So spoke Roberto Spataro, secretary of the Pontifical Academy for Latin Studies, which Pope Benedict XVI founded last year.

Latin is back in the news because of @pontifex_ln, which now has 3,000 followers. In the four weeks since he began tweeting in seven other languages the Pope has gathered more than 2.5 million followers and counting. But isn’t Latin, with all its lentitudo, just a tad sluggish for our hyper times? Not at all says Manlio Simonetti, professor in Christian history. He told L’Osservatore Romano, the “semi-official” newspaper of the Holy See: “Latin… is very well suited to the brevity necessary on new social networks, even more so than English.”

Speaking of L’Osservatore Romano, it began the year with an article titled, “How a tweet from the Pope originates“. Tweet-like snippet: “The appointed departments of the Secretariat of State prepare a text which the Pope then must approve.”

@lancearmstrong, meanwhile, has 3,895,000 followers.

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