Latin, the language used by the world-conquering Romans originally came from the Latini, the inhabitants of the Latium ('the broad plain)', a territory around the river Tiber and the city of Rome. By the third century BC Latin not spoken throughout Italy, by the first century BC Latin was developed into a great literary language.
In contrast to Greek, Latin did not permit a great variety of meanings or interpretations. However, this was an advantage of sorts as the language became credited for its clarity and concision of expression.
With the expansion of the Roman Empire, and later Christianity, Latin spread throughout the western world. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD, the various regional dialects began differing from one another until the various languages of the Romance family were developed. Written Latin, however, did not change as dramatically as spoken Latin and is still used today.