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CLEVERLY, by Heaven! and wittily, in my opinion, does Gavius Bassus explain the derivation of the word persona, in the work that he composed On the Origin of Words; for he suggests that that word is formed from personae. “For,” he says, 1 “the head and the face are shut in on all sides by the covering of the persona, or mask, and only one passage is left for the issue of the voice; and since this opening is neither free nor broad, but sends forth the voice after it has been concentrated and forced into one single means of egress, it makes the sound clearer and more resonant. Since then that covering of the face gives clearness and resonance to the voice, it is for that reason called persona, the o being lengthened because of the formation of the word.”
1 Frag. 8, Fun.
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