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6. There are special rules which must be observed both by speakers and writers. Language is based on reason, antiquity, authority and usage. Reason finds its chief support in analogy and sometimes in etymology. As for antiquity, it is commended to us by the possession of a certain majesty, I might almost say sanctity. [2] Authority as a rule we derive from orators and historians. For poets, owing to the necessities of metre, are allowed a certain licence except in cases where they deliberately choose one of two expressions, when both are metrically possible, as for instance in imo de stirpe recisum and aeriae quo congessere palumbes or silice in nuda1 and the like. The judgment of a supreme orator is placed on the same level as reason, and even error brings no disgrace, if it result from treading in the footsteps of such distinguished guides. [3] Usage however is the surest pilot in speaking, and we should treat language as currency minted with the public stamp. But in all these cases we have need of a critical judgment, especially as regards analogy (a Greek term for which a Latin equivalent has been found in proportion). [4] The essence of analogy is the testing of all subjects of doubt by the application of some standard of comparison about which there is no question, the proof that is to say of the uncertain by reference to the certain. This can be done in two different ways: by comparing similar words, paying special attention to their final syllables [p. 115] (hence monosyllables are asserted to lie outside the domain of analogy2) and by the study of diminutives. [5] Comparison of nouns will reveal either their gender or their declension: in the first case, supposing the question is raised as to whether junis be masculine or feminine, panis will supply a standard of comparison: in the second case, supposing we are in doubt as to whether we should say hac domu or hac domo, domuum or domorum, the standard of comparison will be found in words such as anus or manus. [6] Diminutives merely reveal the gender: for instance, to return to a word previously used as an illustration, funiculus proves thatfunis is masculine. [7] The same standard may be applied in the case of verbs. For instance if it should be asserted that the middle syllable of fervere is short, we can prove this to be an error, because all verbs which in the indicative terminate in -eo, make the middle syllable of the infinitive long, if that syllable contain an e: take as examples such verbs as prandeo, pendeo, spondeo with infinitives prandēre, pendēre, spondēre. [8] Those verbs, however, which terminate in -o alone, if they form the infinitive in e, have the e short; compare lego, dico, curro, with the infinitives, legĕre, dicĕre, currĕre. I admit that in Lucilius we find— “ fervit aqua et fervet: firvit nunc ferverit ad annum.3
The water boils and boil it will; it boils and for a year will boil.

But with all due respect to so learned a man, if he regards fervit as on the same footing as currit and legit, we shall say fervo as we say lego and curro: but such a form has never yet come to my ears. [9] But this is not a true comparison: for fervit [p. 117] resembles servit, and on this analogy we should say fervire like servire. [10] It is also possible in certain cases to discover the present indicative of a verb from the study of its other tenses. I remember, for instance, refuting certain scholars who criticised me for using the word pepigi: for, although they admitted that it had been used by some of the best authors, they asserted that it was an irrational form because the present indicative paciscor, being passive in form, made pactus sum as its perfect. [11] I in addition to quoting the authority of orators and historians maintained that I was also supported by analogy. For when I found ni ita pacunt in the Twelve Tables, I noted that cadunt provided a parallel: it was clear therefore that the present indicative, though now obsolete, was paco on the analogy of cado, and it was further obvious that we say pepigi for just the same reason that we say cecidi. [12] But we must remember that analogy cannot be universally applied, as it is often inconsistent with itself. It is true indeed that scholars have attempted to justify certain apparent anomalies: for example, when it is noted to what an extent lepus and lupus, which resemble each other closely in the nominative, differ in the plural and in the other cases, they reply that they are not true parallels, since lepus is epicene, while lupus is masculine, although Varro in the book in which he narrates the origins of Rome, writes lupus femina, following the precedent of Ennius and Fabius Pictor. [13] The same scholars, however, when asked why aper became apri in the genitive, but pater patris, asserted that aper was an absolute, pater a relative noun. Further since both words derive from the Greek, they took refuge in the fact [p. 119] that πατρός provides a parallel to patris and κάπρου to apri. [14] But how will they evade the difficulty that feminine nouns whose nominative singular ends in -us never make the genitive end in -ris, and yet the genitive of Venus is Veneris: again nouns ending in -es have various genitive terminations, but never end in -ris, but yet we have no choice but to make the genitive of Ceres Cereris? [15] Again what of those words which, although identical in the form of the nominative or present indicative, develop the utmost variety in their inflections. Thus from Alba we get both Albanus and Albensis, from volo both volui and volavi. Analogy itself admits that verbs whose present indicative ends in -o have a great variety of perfect formations, as for instance cado cecidi, spondeo spopondi, pingo pinxi, lego legi, pono posui, fiango fregi, laudo laudavi. [16] For analogy was not sent down from heaven at the creation of mankind to frame the rules of language, but was discovered after they began to speak and to note the terminations of words used in speech. It is therefore based not on reason but on example, nor is it a law of language, but rather a practice which is observed, being in fact the offspring of usage. [17] Some scholars, however, are so perverse and obstinate in their passion for analogy, that they say audaciter in preference to audacter, the form preferred by all orators, and emicavit for emicuit, and conire for coire. We may permit them to say audivisse, scivisse, tribunale and faciliter, nor will we deprive them of frugalis as an alternative for frugi: [18] for from what else can frugalitas be formed? They may also be allowed to point out that phrases such as centum milia nummum and fidem deum4 involve a [p. 121] double solecism, since they change both case and number. Of course we were in blank ignorance of the fact and were not simply conforming to usage and the demands of elegance, as in the numerous cases, with which Cicero deals magnificently, as always, in his Orator.5 [19] Augustus again in his letters to Gaius Caesar corrects him for preferring calidus to caldus, not on the ground that the former is not Latin, but because it is unpleasing and as he himself puts it in Greek περίεργον (affected). [20] Some hold that this is just a question of ὀρθοέπεια or correctness of speech, a subject to which I am far from being indifferent. For what can be more necessary than that we should speak correctly? Nay, I even think that, as far as possible, we should cling to correct forms and resist all tendencies to change. But to attempt to retain forms long obsolete and extinct is sheer impertinence and ostentatious pedantry. [21] I would suggest that the ripe scholar, who says “ave” without the aspirate and with a long e (for it comes from avēre and uses calefacere and conservavisse in preference to the usual forms,6 should also add face, dice and the like to his vocabulary. [22] His way is the right way. Who doubts it? But there is an easier and more frequented path close by. There is, however, nothing which annoys me more than their habit not merely of inferring the nominative from the oblique cases, but of actually altering it. For instance in ebur and robur, the forms regularly used both in writing and speech by the best authors, these gentlemen change their second syllable to o, because their genitives are roboris and eboris, and because sulpur and guttur keep the u in the genitive. So too femur and iecur give rise to similar controversy. [p. 123] [23] Their proceedings are just as arbitrary as if they were to substitute an o in the genitives of sulpur and guttur on the analogy of eboris and roboris. Thus Antonius Gnipho while admitting robur, ebur and even marmur to be correct, would have their plurals to be ebura, robura and marnura. [24] If they would only pay attention to the affinities existing between letters, they would realize that robur makes its genitive roboris in precisely the same way that limes, miles, iudex and uindex make their genitives militis, limitis, iudicis and uindicis, not to mention other words to which I have already referred. [25] Do not nouns which are similar in the nominative show, as I have already observed, quite different terminations in the oblique eases? Compare uirgo and Iuno, lusus and fusus, caspis and puppis and a thousand others. Again some nouns are not used in the plural, while others are not used in the singular, some are indeclinable, while others, like Jupiter, in the oblique cases entirely abandon the form of the nominative. [26] The same is true of verbs: for instance fero disappears in the perfect and subsequent tenses. Nor does it matter greatly whether such forms are nonexistent or too harsh to use. For what is the genitive singular of progenies or the genitive plural of spes? Or how will quire and ruere form a perfect passive or passive participles. [27] Why should I mention other words when it is even doubtful whether the genitive of senatus is senati or senatus? In view of what I have said, it seems to me that the remark, that it is one thing to speak Latin and another to speak grammar, was far from unhappy. So much for analogy, of which I have said more than enough. [28] Etymology inquires into the origin of words, and [p. 125] was called notation by Cicero,7 on the ground that the term used by Aristotle8 is σύμβολον, which may be translated by nota. A literal rendering of ἐτυμολογία would be ueriloquium, a form which even Cicero, its inventor, shrinks from using. Some again, with an eye to the meaning of the word, call it origination. Etymology is sometimes of the utmost use, whenever the word under discussion needs interpretation. [29] For instance Marcus Caelius wishes to prove that he is homo frugi, not because he is abstemious (for he could not even pretend to be that), but because he is useful to many, that is fructuosus, from which frugalitas is derived. Consequently we find room for etymology when we are concerned with definitions. [30] Sometimes again this science attempts to distinguish between correct forms and barbarisms, as for instance when we are discussing whether we should call Sicily Triquetra or Triquedra, or say meridies or medidies, not to mention other words which depend on current usage. [31] Such a science demands profound erudition, whether we are dealing with the large number of words which are derived from the Greek, more especially those inflected according to the practice of the Aeolic dialect, the form of Greek which most nearly resembles Latin; or are using ancient historians as a basis for inquiry into the origin of names of men, places, nations and cities. For instance what is the origin of names such as Brutus, Publicola, or Pythicus? Why do we speak of Latium, Italia or Beneventum? What is the reason for employing such names as Capitolium, collis Quirinalis or Argietum?9

[32] I now turn to minor points concerning which enthusiasts for etymology give themselves an [p. 127] infinity of trouble, restoring to their true form words which have become slightly altered: the methods which they employ are varied and manifold: they shorten them or lengthen them, add, remove, or interchange letters and syllables as the case may be. As a result perverseness of judgment leads to the most hideous absurdities. I am ready to admit that consul may be derived from consulere in the sense of consulting or judging; for the ancients used consulere in the latter sense, and it still survives in the phrase rogat boni consulas, that is bonum iudices, “judge fit.” [33] Again senatus may well be derived from old age (for the senators are called “the fathers”): I concur in the derivations assigned to rex rector to say nothing of many other words where there can be no doubt, and do not refuse to accept those suggested for tegula, regula and the like: let classis be from calare (call out, summon), lepus be a contraction of levipes and vulpes of volipes. [34] But are we also to admit the derivation of certain words from their opposites, and accept lucus a non lucendo, since a grove is dark with shade, ludus in the sense of school as being so called because it is quite the reverse of “play” and Dis, Ditis from diues, because Pluto is far from being rich? Are we to assent to the view that homo is derived from humus, because man sprang from the earth, as though all other living things had not the same origin or as if primitive man gave the earth a name before giving one to himself? Or again can verbum be derived from aer verheratus, “beaten air”? [35] Let us go a little further and we shall find that stella is believed to be still luminis “a drop of light,” a derivation whose author is so famous in literature that it would [p. 129] be unkind to mention his name in connexion with a point where he comes in for censure. [36] But those who collected such derivations in book form, put their names on the title page; and Gavius thought himself a perfect genius when he identified caelibes, “bachelors,” with caelites, “gods,” on the ground that they are free from a heavy load of care, and supported this opinion by a Greek analogy: for he asserted that ἠΐθεοι “young men,” had a precisely similar origin. Modestus is not his inferior in inventive power: for he asserts that caelibes, that is to say unmarried men, are so called because Saturn cut off the genital organs of Caelus. Aelius asserts that pituita, “phlegm,” is so called quia petat uitam, because it attacks life. [37] But we may pardon anyone after the example set by Varro.10 For he tried to persuade Cicero, to whom he dedicated his work, that a field was called eager because something is done in it (agitur), and jackdaws graculos because they fly in flocks (gregatim), in spite of the obvious fact that the first word is derived from the Greek, the latter from the cry of the bird in question. [38] But Varro had such a passion for derivations that he derived the name merula “a blackbird” from mera uolans on the ground that it flies alone! Some scholars do not hesitate to have recourse to etymology for the origin of every word, deriving names such as Rufus or Longus from the appearance of their possessor, verbs such as strepere or murmurare from the sounds which they represent, and even extending this practice to certain derivatives, making uelox for instance find its origin in uelocitas,11 as well as to compounds and the like: now although such words doubtless have an origin, no special science is [p. 131] required to detect it, since it is only doubtful cases that demand the intervention of the etymologist.

[39] Archaic words not only enjoy the patronage of distinguished authors, but also give style a certain majesty and charm. For they have the authority of age behind them, and for the very reason that they have fallen into desuetude, produce an attractive effect not unlike that of novelty. [40] But such words must be used sparingly and must not thrust themselves upon our notice, since there is nothing more tiresome than affectation, nor above all must they be drawn from remote and forgotten ages: I refer to words such as topper, “quite,” antegerio, “exceedingly,” exanclare, “to exhaust,” prosapia, “a race” and the language of the Salian Hymns now scarcely understood by its own priests. [41] Religion, it is true, forbids us to alter the words of these hymns and we must treat them as sacred things. But what a faulty thing is speech, whose prime virtue is clearness, if it requires an interpreter to make its meaning plain! Consequently in the case of old words the best will be those that are newest, just as in the case of new words the best will be the oldest.

[42] The same arguments apply to authority. For although the use of words transmitted to us by the best authors may seem to preclude the possibility of error, it is important to notice not merely what they said, but what words they succeeded in sanctioning. For no one to-day would introduce words such as tuburchinabunidus, “voracious,” or lurchinabundus, “guzzling,” although they have the authority of Cato; nor make lodices, “blankets,” masculine, though Pollio preferred that gender; nor say gladiola, “small swords,” though Messala used this plural, [p. 133] nor parricidatus for parricide, a form which can scarcely be tolerated even in Caelius, nor will Calvus persuade me to speak of collos, “necks.” Indeed, were these authors alive to-day, they would never use such words.

Usage remains to be discussed. [43] For it would be almost laughable to prefer the language of the past to that of the present day, and what is ancient speech but ancient usage of speaking? But even here the critical faculty is necessary, and we must make up our minds what we mean by usage. [44] If it be defined merely as the practice of the majority, we shall have a very dangerous rule affecting not merely style but life as well, a far more serious matter. For where is so much good to be found that what is right should please the majority? The practices of depilation, of dressing the hair in tiers, or of drinking to excess at the baths, although they may have thrust their way into society, cannot claim the support of usage, since there is something to blame in all of them (although we have usage on our side when we bathe or have our hair cut or take our meals together). So too in speech we must not accept as a rule of language words and phrases that have become a vicious habit with a number of persons. [45] To say nothing of the language of the uneducated, we are all of us well aware that whole theatres and the entire crowd of spectators will often commit barbarisms in the cries which they utter as one man. I will therefore define usage in speech as the agreed practice of educated men, just as where our way of life is concerned I should define it as the agreed practice of all good men. [p. 135]

1 Aen. xii. 208: “cutaway from the lowest root.” Ecl. iii. 69: “where airy doves have made their nest.” Ecl. i. 15: “on the naked rock.” Stirps, palumbes and silex are usually masculine.

2 sc. because two monosyllables, unless identical, cannot have the same final syllable.

3 In Book IX.

4 i.e. nummum and deum should, strictly speaking, be accus. singular.

5 xlvi. 155.

6 For havĕ, calfacere, conservasse.

7 Top. viii. 35.

8 περὶ ἑρμ. 2.

9 For derivations see Index of Names at end.

10 de Lingua Lat. v. 34 and 76.

11 The above makes Quintilian derive velox from velocitas, as Varro (L.L. viii. 15) derives prudens from prudentia. Those who regard this as incredible must with Colson transpose ut. . . velox to follow Rufos making Velox a cognomen, or with Meister read velo for velocitate, or velo citato (Colson).

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