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[3arg] The meaning and origin of the word lictor and the varying opinions of Valgius Rufus and Tullius Tiro on that subject.

VALGIUS RUFUS, in the second of the books which he entitled On Matters Investigated by Letter, says 1 that the lictor was so called from ligando or “binding,” because when the magistrates of the Roman people had given orders that anyone should be beaten with rods, his legs and arms were always fastened and bound by an attendant, and therefore that the member of the college of attendants who had the duty of binding him was called a lictor. And he quotes as [p. 369] evidence on this subject Marcus Tullius, citing these words from the speech entitled In Defence of Gaius Rabirius: 2 “Lictor, bind his hands.” This is what Valgius says.

Now, I for my part agree with him; but Tullius Tiro, the freedman of Marcus Cicero, wrote 3 that the lictor got his name from limus or licium. “For,” says he, “those men who were in attendance upon the magistrates were girt across with a kind of girdle called limus.

But if there is anyone who thinks that what Tiro said is more probable, because the first syllable 4 in lictor is long like that of licium, but in the word ligo is short, that has nothing to do with the case. For in lictor from ligando, lector from legendo, vitor from viendo, tutor from tuendo, and structor from struendo, the vowels, which were originally short, are lengthened.

1 p. 485, Fun.

2 § 13.

3 p. 8, Lion.

4 The vowel is long, not merely the syllable, as Gellius goes on to say.

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load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LICTOR
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LIMUS
    • Smith's Bio, C. Va'lgius Rufus
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