NIGIDIUS FIGULUS, in my opinion the most learned of men next to Marcus Varro, in the eleventh book of his Grammatical Commentaries, quotes 1 a truly remarkable line from an early poet: 2
Best it is to be religious, lest one superstitious be;but he does not name the author of the poem. And in the same connection Nigidius adds: “The suffix osus in words of this kind, such as vinosus, mulierosus, religiosus, always indicates an excessive amount of the quality in question. Therefore religiosus is applied to one who has involved himself in an extreme and superstitious devotion, which was regarded as a fault.” But in addition to what Nigidius says, by another shift in meaning religiosus began to be used of an upright and conscientious man, who regulates his conduct by definite laws and limits. Similarly too the following terms, which have the same origin, appear to have acquired different meanings; namely, religiosus dies and religiosa delubra. For those days are called religiosi which are of ill-fame and are hampered by an evil omen, so that on them one must refrain from offering sacrifice or beginning any new business whatever; they are, namely, the days that the ignorant multitude falsely and improperly call ne fasti. 3 Thus Marcus Cicero, in the ninth [p. 341] book of his Letters to Atticus, writes: 4 “Our forefathers maintained that the day of the battle at the Allia was more calamitous than that on which the city was taken; because the latter disaster was the result of the former. Therefore the one day is even now religiosus, while the other is unknown to the general public.” Yet the same Marcus Tullius, in his speech On Appointing a Prosecutor, 5 uses the term religiosa delubra of shrines which are not ill-omened and gloomy, but full of majesty and sacredness. Masurius Sabinus too, in his Notes on Native Words, says: 6 “Religiosus is that which because of some sacred quality is removed and withdrawn from us; the word is derived from relinquo, as is caerimonia from careo.” 7 According to this explanation of Sabinus, temples indeed and shrines—since an accumulation of these does not give rise to censure, as in case of things which are praised for their moderate use—since they are to be approached, not unceremoniously and thoughtlessly, but after purification and in due form, must be both revered and feared, rather than profaned; but those days are called religiosi which for the opposite reason, because they are of dire omen, we avoid. 8 And Terence says: 9
Then too I give her nothing, except to say “All right;”[p. 343] But if, as Nigidius says, all derivatives of that kind indicate an excessive and immoderate degree, and therefore have a bad sense, as do vinosus (“fond of wine” ), mulierosus (“fond of women” ), morosus (“whimsical” ), verbosus (“wordy” ), famosus (“notorious” ), 10 why are ingeniosus (“talented” ), formosus (“beautiful” ), officiosus (“dutiful” ), and speciosus (“showy” ), 11 which are formed in the same way from ingenium, forma, officium, and species, why too are disciplinosus (“well-trained” ), consiliosus (“full of wisdom” ), victoriosus (“victorious” ), words coined by Marcus Cato, 12 why too facundiosts—for Sempronius Asellio in the thirteenth book of his History wrote, 13 “one should regard his deeds, not his words if they are less eloquent (facundiosa）” —why, I say, are all these adjectives used, not in a bad, but in a good sense, although they too indicate an excessive amount of the quality which they signify? Is it because a certain necessary limit must be set for the qualities indicated by those words which I first cited? For favour if it is excessive and without limit, 14 and habits if they are too many and varied, and words if they are unceasing, endless and deafening, and fame if it should be great and restless and begetting envy; all these are neither praiseworthy nor useful; but talent, duty, beauty, training, wisdom, victory and eloquence, being in [p. 345] themselves great virtues, are confined within no limits, but the greater and more extensive they are, the more are they deserving of praise.
For I avoid confessing my impecunious plight.