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date: 26 November 2020

grammar, grammarians, Latinlocked

  • R. A. Kaster

Extract

The Romans came to study their own language only late, under the impulse of Hellenistic philosophy; the Greek influence was permanent and is clearly indicated by the calques that constitute much of Latin grammatical terminology (e.g. casus∼πτῶσις, coniugatio∼συζυγία). It was the doctrine of the Stoics—represented by the τέχνη περὶ φωνῆς, as part of the theory of ‘dialectic’—that provided the most important model for Roman handbooks. The surviving examples, which include short ‘school grammars’ and massive treatises, generally have three main sections: (a) introductory definitions of essential concepts (e.g. vox, littera, syllaba); (b) an analysis of the parts of speech; and (c) a survey of ‘flaws’ and ‘virtues’ (vitia et virtutes orationis: probably not part of the Stoic legacy). When fully expanded, section (b) treated each part of speech according to its attributes: nomina (nouns and adjectives) according to qualitas (‘proper’ or ‘appellative’), genus ( = gender), figura (simple or compound, e.

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