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[15arg] On the verb quiesco, whether it should be pronounced with a long or a short e.

A FRIEND of mine, a man of much learning and devoted to the liberal arts, pronounced the verb quiescit (“be quiet”) in the usual manner, with a short e. Another man, also a friend of mine, marvellous in the use of grammatical rules as jugglers' tricks, so to say, and excessively fastidious [p. 133] in rejecting common words, thought that the first man had been guilty of a barbarism, maintaining that he ought to have lengthened the e, rather than shortened it. For he asserted that quiescit ought to be pronounced like calescit, nitescit, stupescit and many other words of that kind. He also added the statement that quies (quiet) is pronounced with the e long, not short. But my first-named friend, with the unassuming modesty which was characteristic of him in all matters, said that not even if the Aelii, the Cincii and the Santrae 1 had decided that the word ought to be so pronounced, would he follow their ruling against the universal usage of the Latin language, nor would he speak in such an eccentric fashion as to be discordant and strange in his diction. Nevertheless he wrote a letter on the subject, among some exercises for his own amusement, in which he tried to prove that quiesco is not like those words which I have quoted above; that it is not derived from quies but rather quies from quiesco. He also maintained that quiesco has the form and derivation of a Greek word, 2 and he tried to show, by reasons that were by no means without force, that the word should not be pronounced with a long e. 3

1 Mentioned as typical grammarians. The gens Aelia included several famous jurists and men of letters; the reference here is to Lucius Aelius Stilo, the teacher of Varro and Cicero. Santra was a grammarian of the first century B.C.; the Cincii were less well known.

2 A fanciful derivation from Ionic ἔχω, ἔσχω.

3 The e is however long; quiésco occurs in C.1.L. vi, 6250 and 25521.

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