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{ Tag Archives } 1st century

Miserrimus omnis saeculi.

Seneca, Controversiae 2.7: Miserrimus omnis sæculi maritus: sic contempta absentia mea etiamnunc iniuriam meam nescirem, si qui fecerat tacere voluisset. I’m the most miserable husband of all time – even now I wouldn’t have known that I’d been wronged in my wretched absence if the man who had done it had wanted to keep quiet. […]

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Needlefish in Pliny.

Acus sive belone unus piscium dehiscente propter multitudinem utero parit. The pipefish (acus, or belone) is the one fish that gives birth by its womb splitting open, due to its great number [of young]. The name belone has been observed to refer to both a toothed fish and a toothless one. The toothed fish, namely […]

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Ablatives for ambiguity

Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 7.9: Accusativi geminatione facta amphibolia solvitur ablativo, ut illud “Lachetem audivi percussisse Demean” fiat “a Lachete percussum Demean”. Sed ablativo ipsi, ut in primo diximus, inest naturalis amphibolia: “cælo decurrit aperto”: utrum per apertum cælum an cum apertum esset. Ambiguity created by doubling an accusative is resolved with an ablative, so that […]

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Scyllas in Ovid.

Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1.331-2: FÄ«lĭă | pÅ«rpÅ­rÄ•|ōs NÄ«|sō fÅ«|rātă că|pÄ«llōs pÅ«bÄ• prÄ•|mÄ«t răbÄ­|dōs || Ä«nguÄ­nÄ­|bÅ«squÄ• că|nÄ“s. The daughter who stole the purple hair from Nisus now pushes down rabid dogs with her crotch and groin. This one’s a bit weird on its own.  The woman being spoken of is Scylla—or rather, two women named Scylla; […]

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Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia 37.10, on quartz crystals: Quæ vero sine vitio sint, pura esse malunt, acenteta appellantes, nec spumei coloris, sed limpidæ aquæ. Those which are in fact flawless are preferred uncut and are called acenteta; and they are not cloudy in color, but of the color of clear water. Acentetum is from the […]

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Nomes of Lower Egypt, I-V.

I started writing this egons ago—late January—but it got enormous and unwieldy and I never managed to whip it into much of a presentable shape.  But then, this is a blog—there’s nothing wrong with posting incomplete ideas per se.  If this ever gets finished, it’ll be a page of its own on the sidebar here. […]

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Pliny on the formation of selenite.

Pliny the Elder, on selenite mined near Segóbriga (Segobriga near modern Saelices, Cuenca in Spain), Naturalis Historia 36.45: Umorem hunc terræ quadam anima crystalli modo glaciari et in lapidem concrescere manifesto apparet, quod cum feræ decidere in puteos tales, medullæ in ossibus earum post unam hiemem in eandem lapidis naturam figurantur. It is patently obvious […]

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So I found out that talk page editing on the dictionary‘s been broken, possibly for quite a while now. I should have realized the spambots were being mighty quiet. It should be working again now; and now that it’s back in operation Iustinus noticed my entry for ‘brew‘ only had a phrasal translation—the Romans weren’t […]

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Pliny, Naturalis Historia 21.54: Tribulo proprietas, quod et fructum spinosum habet. The caltrop has the distinctive property that it even has a spiny fruit. There are a few plants called tribulus ‘caltrop’, in both English and Latin.  The one that today has Tribulus as its scientific name, the puncturevine, is probably not the one being referred to, […]

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The pyramids of Porsena’s tomb.

Pliny the Elder, quoting Varro (Naturalis Historia 36.19): supra id quadratum pyramides stant quinque, quattuor in angulis et in medio una, imæ latæ pedum quinum septuagenum, altæ centenum quinquagenum ita fastigatæ, ut in summo orbis aëneus et petasus unus omnibus sit inpositus […] supra quem orbem quattuor pyramides insuper singulæ stant altæ pedum centenum, supra […]

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