14. Latin, the language of the ancient Romans, was properly, as its name implies, the language spoken in the plain of Latium, lying south of the Tiber, which was the first territory occupied and governed by the Romans. It is a descendent of an early form of speech commonly called Indo-European (by some Indo-Germanic), from which are also descended most of the important languages now in use in Europe, including among others English, German, the Slavic and the Celtic languages, and further some now or formerly spoken in Asia, as Sanskrit, Persian, Armenian. Greek likewise belongs to the same family. The Romance languages, of which the most important are Italian, French, Provencal, Spanish, Portuguese, and Roumanian, are modern descendants of spoken Latin.
The earliest known forms of Latin are preserved in a few inscriptions. These increase in number as we approach the time when the language began to be used in literature; that is, about B.C. 250. It is the comparatively stable language of the classical period (B.C. 80 - A.D. 14) that is ordinarily meant when we speak of Latin, and it is mainly this that is described in this book.