XII[12arg] Of those words which Cloatius Verus referred to a Greek origin, either quite fittingly or too absurdly and tastelessly.
CLOATIUS VERUS, in the books which he entitled Words taken from the Greek, says not a few things indeed which show careful and keen investigation, but also some which are foolish and trifling. “Errare (to err),” he says, 1 “is derived from the Greek ἔρρειν,” and he quotes a line of Homer in which that word occurs: 2 Swift wander (ἔρρει) from the isle, most wretched man. Cloatius also wrote that alucinari, or “dream,” is derived from the Greek ἀλύειν, or “be distraught,” and from this he thinks that the word elucus also is taken, with a change of a to e, meaning a certain sluggishness and stupidity of mind, which commonly comes to dreamy folk. He also derives fascinum, or “charm,” as if it were bascanum, 3 and fascinare, as if it were bascinare, 4 or “bewitch.” All these are fitting and proper enough. But in his fourth book he says: 5 “Faenerator is equivalent to [p. 177] φαινεράτωρ, meaning 'to appear at one's best,' since that class of men present an appearance of kindliness and pretend to be accommodating to poor men who are in need of money”; and he declared that this was stated by Hypsicrates, a grammarian whose books on Words Borrowed from the Greeks are very well known. But whether Cloatius himself or some other blockhead gave vent to this nonsense, nothing can be more silly. For faenerator, as Marcus Varro wrote in the third book of his Latin Diction, 6 “is so called from feanus, or 'interest,' but faenus,” he says, “is derived from fetus, 7 or 'offspring,' and from a birth, as it were, from money, producing and giving increase.” Therefore he says that Marcus Cato 8 and others of his time pronounced generator without the letter a, just as fetus itself and fecunditas were pronounced.