Friday, April 25, 2008

IMP

Zmjezhd over at epea pteroenta has identified and brought to our attention the true cause of the decline and eventual destruction of the Roman Empire: txting. We all knew that this vile disregard for ortographic rules and conventions would eventually bring down our civilization and now thanks to zmjezhd we have a proof that it has already done so once, infecting the very heart of the Roman Empire at its finest time and spreading like cancer all over the civilized world. And to fully appreciate the threat of txting, let us consider the rate at which it spread from the center of the Empire to its periphery. Zmjezhd's example dates to the early 2nd century AD, which indicates that by then, the disease had already infected Rome and Italy. Yet at that very time, the outer provinces still held on to their heritage. This is evidenced by this late 2nd century AD inscription in stone (a simple, honest and down-to-earth material which is - very unlike the liberal elitist marble - resistant to moral and cultural corruption) in Lavgaricio, today's Trenčín:

VICTORIAE
AVGVSTORV
EXERCITVS QVI LAV
GARICIONE SEDIT MIL
L II DCCCLV
[M VAL MAXIMI]ANS LEG LEG II AD CVR

Victoriae
Avgvstorvm
exercitvs qvi Lav-
garicione sedit milites
legionis II DCCCLV
[Marcus Valerius Maximi]anvs legatvs legionis II adivtricis cvravit

To the victory of the venerable,
the troops stationed in Laugaricio,
855 soldiers of the 2nd legion
Dedicated by M. V. Maximianus, the legate of the auxiliary to the 2nd legion.

Note how everything but the signature is spelled out in full (save for that one -m of the Genitive plural suffix). The abbreviations in the legate's name and title are to be seen as symbols of modesty so typical of Roman warrior class and not signs of moral decay which had by then overrun Rome. As many times before and many times since, here the periphery still holds to the traditional values like proper grammar, even though the center has long abandoned them.

But only a few decades later, all is lost. In Rome, the position of the emperor weakens, the Imperial Crisis looms and troops of Alexander Severus (or possibly the Emperor himself) leave this message in a stone somewhere in the vicinity of today's village of Semerovo:

IMP M AVR SEVE
RVS A[L]E PI[US] F
LIX AVG PONT M[AX TRIB]
POT VIII [C]ON III [P P]....

Imperator Marcvs Avrelius Seve
rvs Alexander Pivs Fe
lix Avgvstus Pontifex Maximvs tribvnicia
potestate VIII consvl III pater patriae....

Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus
Alexander Pius (The Pious) Felix (The Lucky)
Augustus (The Venerable), chief priest, holder of the office
of tribune 8 times, consul 3 times, father of the country....

The cancer of the language has spread from Rome to the land of the Quadi and from marble to stone. And thus the Roman world ends, not with a bang, but 4 w1MP3r and a warning to the future generations who would not take the proper steps to guard against this horrible disease: ur nxt, d00dz.

Reference:
ŠKOVIERA, Daniel: Antiqua Slovaciae Memoria. - Bratislava : Tatran, 1977, 36 p.

12 comments:

David Marjanović said...

"How stupid of me not to have thought of this myself!"

bulbul said...

Or, rather, how brilliant of zmjezhd.

But yeah, I concede your point :) And once it was out, I just had to show what a good patriot I am :)

goofy said...

Wow, you almost have me convinced!

zmjezhd said...

You are too kind. I had thought all the good WAGs about the fall of the Roman Empire had been taken, but I was wrong. I take it as an appropriate sign that my friend Peter is from Trenčín (Petrus Lavgaricionensis).

vanya said...

Brilliant, yes. But actually in the first inscription AVGVSTORV arguably is spelled out in full, the soldier just made an understandable grammatical mistake since that "M" was no longer pronounced in vulgar latin by the 2nd century AD.

bulbul said...

vanya,
you are right, that one counts only for half the points.


zmjezhd,
hardly, this one is definitely one of the brilliant ones :)

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