Saturday, May 30, 2015


Verbal Dislikes

Ronald Syme (1903-1989), Tacitus, Vol. II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958; rpt. 1997), p. 712:
Tacitus is a decisive and wilful writer. How far are his verbal dislikes (shape, strength, atmosphere, or connotation) to be regarded as deliberate, how far unconscious? It is a large question. His animosities make the idiosyncrascy of the writer stand out in sharp relief. They may also furnish clues to his psychology. Tacitus exhibits a marked distaste for words of a kindly, optimistic, or improving nature: 'iucundus' and 'urbanitas' are discarded before the Annales, while 'blandus' and 'benignus' each appear in the Historiae once, and never again; and there is one example all through of 'tranquillus' (Ann. 1.3.7).

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