Thursday, 24 September 2015

Gellius on the ridiculous word bibosus.

Aulus Gellius  (125-180) was an avid reader and when he stayed at Athens he read during the evening and wrote down what seems to him strange or remarkable. His Noctes Atticae are a collection are thus a collection of sometimes pedantic marginalia. Take for instance his remarks on bibosus `given to drinking’. Reading through a work on grammar by Publius Nigidius Figulus (100-45 BC), he noted this word and with indignation he remarks that this word is WRONG: it only occurs in the mime Salinator  (The Salt Dealer) by Laberius (105-43 BC). A mimus was a play about sex and crime, using words from daily language and unfortunately not a single mime has come down to us, though some 700 lines from the writer Publilius Syrus have been preserved.   As for Nigidius and Laberius: their works are lost, apart from quotations here and there put down by other writers. During their lifetime they were famous, but are now remembered for using the inadmissible word bibosus. So far eternal glory!
The chapter ends with a quote from the Salinator, describing a girl who nowadays wouldn’t make it in the showbiz: she young (non annosa), she is not busty (mammosa), not addicted to alcohol (bibosa) and not insolent (procax).

Aulius Gellius Noctes Attica  III, 12
Largum atque avidum bibendi a P. Nigidio, doctissimo viro, nova et prope absurda vocabuli figura "bibosum" dictum.

1 Bibendi avidum P. Nigidius in commentariis grammaticis "bibacem" et "bibosum" dicit. 2 "Bibacem" ego ut "edacem" a plerisque aliis dictum lego; "bibosum" dictum nondum etiam usquam repperi nisi apud Laberium, neque aliud est, quod simili inclinatu dicatur. 3 Non enim simile est ut "vinosus" aut "vitiosus" ceteraque, quae hoc modo dicuntur, quoniam a vocabulis, non a verbo, inclinata sunt. 4 Laberius in mimo, qui Salinator inscriptus est, verbo hoc ita utitur: non mammosa, non annosa, non bibosa, non procax.

largus (+ gen.): abounding in (with an implied `someone’)
avidus (+ gen.): greedy for
vocabuli figura: formation of a word (abl.!)
bibax -acis: prone to drinking (adjectives ending in ax denote a lasting habit. Bibax, like bibosus, is only found in this chapter).
edax  -acis: voracious
aliis (auctoribus)
reperio repperi repertum: to find
inclinatus – us (m.): formation (of a word)
vinosus: Gellius rightly remarks that adjectives in osus are made from a noun (vocabulum).

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