Friday, January 05, 2007


Thank You

When I arrived home after work yesterday, I found a package on my front porch. Inside was a copy of G.S. Kirk's commentary on the first four books of the Iliad, sent by a reader of this blog whom I've never met. Thank you very much, Robert. Ancient texts and commentaries are my favorite reading, and Homer tops the list. I will treasure this commentary.

Blogging can be a lonely, time-consuming pursuit. I'm often tempted to abandon it. But occasional encouraging emails from readers keep me going. This is the second time that a kind and generous reader has sent a book as a gift.

In a note accompanying the book, Robert mentioned that he enjoys the posts on asyndetic privative adjectives. I recently read Seneca's Medea and found an example at line 395 (tr. John G. Fitch):
magnum aliquid instat, efferum immane impium.

Something great is looming, savage, monstrous, unnatural.
At first I wasn't sure if the im- of immane was privative, but apparently it is. Lewis and Short s.v. immanis derive it from "in- and old Lat. mānus=bonus; kindr. with Sanscr. ma=metior, to measure; Lat. mānes, good spirits."

From the citations in Lewis and Short I see another example at Plautus, Trinummus 826 (tr. H.T. Riley):
spurcificum immanem intolerandum vesanum

filthy, unsightly, unendurable, and outrageous.

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