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AT the dinners of the philosopher Favorinus, after the guests had taken their places and the serving of the viands began, a slave commonly stood by his table and began to read something, either from Grecian literature or from our own. For example, one day when I was present the reading was from the treatise of the learned Gavius Bassus On the Origin of Verbs and Substantives. In it this passage occurred: 1 “Parcus is a compound word, made up [p. 305] of par arcae, that is 'like a strong-box;' for just as all valuables are put away in a strong-box and preserved and kept under its protection, just so a man who is close and content to spend little keeps all his property guarded and hidden away, as in a strong-box. For that reason he is called parcus, as if it were par arcus.” 2 Then Favorinus, on hearing these words, said: “That fellow Gavius Bassus has made up and contrived an origin for that word in an unnatural, altogether laboured and repellent manner, rather than explained it. For if it is permissible to draw on one's imagination, why would it not seem more reasonable to believe that a man is called parcus for the reason that he forbids and prevents tile spending of money, as if he were pecuniarcus. Why not rather,” he continued, “adopt an explanation which is simpler and nearer the truth? For parcus is derived neither from arca nor from arceo, but from parum and parvum.” 3
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