[9arg] The meaning of the word insecenda in Marcus Cato; and that insecenda ought to be read rather than insequenda, which many prefer.
IN an old book, containing the speech of Marcus Cato On Ptolemy against Thermus, were these words: 1 “But if he did everything craftily, everything for the sake of avarice and pelf, such abominable crimes as we have never heard of or read of, he ought to suffer punishment for his acts. . .” The question was raised what insecenda meant. Of those who were present at the time there was one who was a dabbler in literature and another who was versed in it; that is to say, one was teaching the subject, the other was learned in it. 2 These two disagreed with each other, the grammarian maintaining that insequenda ought to be written: “For,” said he, “insequenda should be written, not insecenda, since insequens means . . . and inseque has come down to us in the sense of 'proceed to say,' and accordingly insequor was written by Ennius in the following verses: 3
Proceed, O Muse, when Rome with Philip warred,” But the other, more learned, man declared that there was no mistake, but that it was written correctly and properly, and that we ought to trust Velius Longus, a man not without learning, who [p. 329] wrote in the commentary which he composed On the Use of Archaic Terms, that inseque should not be read in Ennius, but insece; and that therefore the early writers called what we term narrationes, or “tales,” insectiones; that Varro also explained this verse from the Menaechmi of Plautus: 4
To tell the valorous deeds our leaders wrought.
Nihilo minus esse videtur sectius quam somnia,as follows: “they seem to me no more worth telling than if they were dreams.” Such was their discussion. I think that both Marcus Cato and Quintus Ennius wrote insecenda and insece without u. For in the library at Patrae 5 I found a manuscript of Livius Andronicus of undoubted antiquity, entitled ᾿οδύσσεια, in which the first line contained this word without the letter u: 6
Tell me (insece), O Muse, about the crafty man,translated from this line of Homer: 7 [p. 331] The teachers also and interpreters of Greek words think that in ἔννεπε, and ἔσπετε are expressed by the Latin word inseque; for they say that in one word the ν is doubled, in the other changed to ς. And they also say that the word ἔπη, which means “words” or “verses,” can he derived only ἀπὸ τοῦ ἕπεσθαι καὶ τοῦ εἰπεῖν, that is from “follow” and “say.” Therefore for the same reason our forefathers called narrations and discourses insectiones.