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[21arg] Why Marcus Cicero very scrupulously avoided any use of the words novissime and novissimus.

IT is clear that Marcus Cicero was unwilling to use many a word which is now in general circulation, and was so in his time, because he did not approve of them; for instance, novissimus and novissine. For although both Marcus Cato 1 and Sallust, 2 as well as others also of the same period, have used that word generally, and although many men besides who were not without learning wrote it in their books, yet he seems to have abstained from it, on the ground that it was not good Latin, since Lucius Aelius Stilo, 3 who was the most learned man of his time, had avoided its use, as that of a novel and improper word.

Moreover, what Marcus Varro too thought of that word I have deemed it fitting to show from his own words in the sixth book of his De Lingua Latina, dedicated to Cicero: 4 “What used to be called extremum or 'last,'” says he, “is beginning to be called generally novissimum, a word which within my own memory both Aelius and several old men avoided as too new a term; as to its origin, just as from vetus we have vetustior and veterrimus, so from novus we get novior and novissimus.5

[p. 273]

1 Fr. inc. 51, Jordan.

2 Cat. xxxiii. 2; Jug. x. 2; xix. 7, etc.

3 p. 53, 15, Fun.

4 vii. 59.

5 Novissimus occurs in Caesar and in Cicero, Rosc. Com. 30; novior is avoided wholly by the classical writers.

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