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[3arg] What Marcus Cicero thought and wrote about the prefix in the verbs aufugio and aufcro; and whether this same preposition is to be seen in the verb autumo.

I READ a book of Marcus Cicero's entitled The Orator. In that book when Cicero had said that the verbs aifugio and aufero were indeed formed of the preposition ab and the verbs fugio and fero, but that the preposition, in order that the word might be smoother in pronunciation and sound, was changed and altered into the syllable au, 1 and aufulgio and aufero began to be used for abfugio and abfero; when he had said this, I say, he afterwards in the same work wrote as follows of the same particle: 2 “This preposition,” he says, “will be found in no other verb save these two only.”

But I have found in the Commentary of Nigidius 3 that the verb autumo is formed from the preposition ab and the verb aestumo (estimate) and that autumo is a contracted form of abaestumo, signifying totum aestumo, on the analogy of abnumero. 4 But, be it said with great respect for Publius Nigidius, a most learned man, this seems to be rather bold and clever than true. For autumo does not only mean “I think,” but also “I say,” “I am of the opinion,” and “I consider,” with which verbs that preposition has no connection either in the composition of the [p. 69] word or in the expression of its meaning. Besides, Marcus Tullius, a man of unwearied industry in the pursuit of letters, would not have said that these were the only two verbs containing au, if any third example could be found. But the following point is more worthy of examination and investigation, whether the preposition ab is altered and changed into the syllable au for the sake of making the pronunciation smoother, or whether more properly the particle au has its own origin, and just as many other prepositions were taken from the Greeks, so this one also is derived from that source. 5 As in that verse of Homer: 6

First bent them back (αὐέρυσαν), then slew and flayed the beasts;
and: 7

Loud-shouting (αὐίαχοι), noisy. 8

1 Au is probably a different preposition from ab; see Archiv. f. lat. Lex. u. Gr., x, p. 480, and xiii, pp. 7 f.

2 § 158.

3 Frag. 51, Swoboda.

4 The derivation of autumo is uncertain; some take the original meaning to be “divining” and connect it with avis; see T.L.L. s.v. Walde rejects that derivation in favour of the one from autem; cf. Fay, Class. Quart. i. (1907) p. 25. Here the original meaning is assumed to be “repeat, assert,” and in fact autumo and itero are sometimes synonymous. The development of the meanings of autuino was doubtless influenced by aestumo, which has the same suffix.

5 See note 1, p. 66; it is not “taken from the Greeks.”

6 Iliad i. 459.

7 Iliad xiii. 41

8 Or, in silence, noiseless; see L. and S. s.v.

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  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ELEUSINIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), MANCI´PIUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), THESEIA
    • Smith's Bio, Proto'genes
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