previous next

[5arg] That the verb profligo is used by many improperly and ignorantly.


JUST as many other words, through the ignorance and stupidity of those who speak badly what they do not understand, are diverted and turned aside from their proper and usual meaning, so too has the signification of the verb profligo been changed and perverted. For while it is taken over and derived from adfligo, in the sense of “bring to ruin and destruction,” and while all who have been careful in their diction have always used the word to express “waste” and “destroy,” calling things that were cast down and destroyed res profligatae, I now hear that buildings, temples, and many other things that are almost complete and finished are said to be in profligato and the things themselves profligata. Therefore that was a very witty reply, as Sulpicius Apollinaris has recorded in one of his Letters, which a praetor, a man not without learning, made to a simpleton among a crowd of advocates. [p. 75] “For,” said he, “when that impudent prater had made a request in these terms: 'All the business, renowned sir, about which you said that you would take cognizance to-day, because of your diligence and promptness is done (profligata sunt); one matter only remains, to which I beg you to give attention.' Then the praetor wittily enough replied: 'Whether the affairs of which you say that I have taken cognizance are done (profligata), I do not know; but this business which has fallen into your hands is undoubtedly done for (profligatum est), whether I hear it or not.'”

But to indicate what those wish to express who use profligatum in the sense of “nearly done,” those who have spoken good Latin used, not profligatum, but adfectum, as for example Marcus Cicero, in the speech which he delivered About the Consular Provinces. His words are as follows: 1 “We see the war nearing its end (adfectum) and, to tell the truth, all but finished.” Also further on: 2 “For why should Caesar himself wish to remain longer in that province, except that he may turn over to the State, completed, the tasks which he has nearly finished (acfecta sunt)?” Cicero also says in the Oeconomicus: 3 “When indeed, as summer is already well nigh ended (adfecta), it is time for the grapes to ripen in the sun.”

1 § 19.

2 § 9.

3 Frag. 21, p. 978, Orelli2.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: