Monday, December 09, 2013


Tips on Grooming

Ovid, Art of Love 1.519-520 (tr. J.H. Mozley):
Do not let your nails project, and let them be free of dirt; nor let any hair be in the hollow of your nostrils.

et nihil emineant et sint sine sordibus ungues,
   inque cava nullus stet tibi nare pilus.
On untrimmed fingernails see Theophrastus, Characters 19.1-2 (tr. Jeffrey Rusten):
The squalid man is the sort who goes around in a leprous and encrusted state, with long fingernails...

ὁ δὲ δυσχερὴς τοιοῦτός τις, οἷος λέπραν ἔχων καὶ ἀλφὸν καὶ τοὺς ὄνυχας μεγάλους περιπατεῖν...
Herwerden conjectured μέλανας for μεγάλους (black nails, instead of overgrown ones).

On nasal hair see W.M. Lindsay, ed., Sexti Pompei Festi De verborum significatu quae supersunt cum Pauli epitome (1913; rpt. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1997), p. 509, with apparatus:
Vibracae pili in naribus hominum, dicti quod his evulsis caput vibratur.

Vibraessae G I ut uid.: Vibresse (ex -isse ut uid.) R: Viprisse (-ae) M E: Vibrissae P: Vibrucae Gloss.: corr. Thewr., qui archetypi formam uibra ēe (i.e. uibra esse) ad uibrace revocat
My translation:
Vibracae hairs in men's nostrils, so-called because the head shakes (vibratur) when they're plucked out.
In Lewis and Short's Latin dictionary, the lemma is vibrissae, and zoologists have adopted the word in that form to refer to the whiskers of cats and other animals.

The explanation of Festus is odd; that of André Dacier (quod spiritu, qui per nares meat, vibrentur = because they vibrate with the breath that passes through the nostrils) makes more sense to me.

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