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Written Characters

“LETTERS, or other written characters” (Marville writes) “have always followed the genius of the barbarous ages; they have been elegantly or ill formed, as the sciences flourished more or less. Antiquarians have observed, that the medals struck under the consulship of Fabius Lictor, about 250 years before Augustus, have their letters better formed than the more ancient ones. Those of the times of Augustus, and the succeeding age, display very beautiful characters. Those of Diocletian and Maximus are worse formed than those of the Antonines; and those of the Justins and Justinians degenerate into a vile Gothic taste.

“It is not only on medals these observations have been made; every where the same corruption of characters followed ignorance and barbarism. No writing is found in the early ages of our history, which is not disfigured by an uncouth mixture of Roman with foreign letters; and the barbarism which prevailed in the sciences was not less prevalent in writing.”