Thursday, November 8, 2007

notitia dignitatum omnium tam civilium

Decades ago, when I was living in self-imposed, political exile in Bonn, a friend sent me a letter. I don’t really remember anything much from the letter, except (his knowing that I was a linguaphile) a bold request for the Latin translation of the title of his then-current favorite movie, Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo. It’s the sort of thing that makes linguists shudder, but it would burn up some free hours, or, so thought I. Long story short, Cairo is a rather modern city, but the Roman legions (specifically Legio XIII Gemina) were hanging about in its general environs, and the fortress they were occupying was called Babylonia. Anyway, reminiscing about this this morning led me to discover a wonderful little corner of the Web: Dr Ingo Maier’s The Cnh or Notitia Dignitatum links site. The Notitia Dignitatum is a fifth century example of a Roman bureaucratic document: a detailed list of the offices, both civilian and military, of both halves of the Roman Empire.

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