Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Ancient Arms Akimbo

Plautus, Persa 307-308 (tr. Paul Nixon):
SAGARISTIO. I'll strut up with arms akimbo and a lordly air.
TOXILUS. But what's this two-handled jug with a jaunty stride?

SAG. subnixis alis me inferam atque amicibor gloriose.
TOX. sed quis hic ansatus ambulat?
Latin ansatus is from ansa (handle). See the Online Etymology Dictionary, s.v. akimbo:
c.1400, in kenebowe, perhaps from phrase in keen bow "at a sharp angle," or from a Scand. word akin to Icelandic kengboginn "bow-bent." Many languages use a teapot metaphor for this, such as Fr. faire le pot a deux anses "to play the pot with two handles."
I looked for a Greek equivalent in S.C. Woodhouse, English-Greek Dictionary: A Vocabulary of the Attic Language (1910) and G.M. Edwards, An English-Greek Lexicon (1914; rpt. 1930), but came up dry.

I wonder if there are any representations of this pose from ancient art. I don't have access to Carl Sittl, Die Gebärden der Griechen und Römer (1890; rpt. 1970), or Gregory S. Aldrete, Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome (1999).

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