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Aulus GelliusAn Antonine Scholar and his Achievement$
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Leofranc Holford-Strevens

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199263196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263196.001.0001

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The Latin Language

The Latin Language

Chapter:
(p.172) 10 The Latin Language
Source:
Aulus Gellius
Author(s):

Leofranc Holford-Strevens

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263196.003.0011

Gellius despises run-of-the-mill professional grammarians for their ignorance both of other disciplines and of Republican Latin, which furnished exceptions to their arbitrary rules. This attitude should not be called a championing of anomaly against analogy, since anomaly had dissolved into the competing principles, of which the most important in Gellius's eyes is the authority of approved writers; arguments from ratio (analogy or etymology) are acceptable provided they support it. Nevertheless, he is aware that language changes over time, especially pronunciation. His discussions of etymology are very sensible by ancient standards; he is also aware that euphony plays an important part in writers' choices. His ventures into textual criticism show an appreciation of the lectio difficilior, but the readings he produces from supposedly authentic manuscripts must be judged on their merits.

Keywords:   authority, analogy, anomaly, etymology, grammarians, language, Latin, lectio difficilior, manuscripts, textual criticism

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