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  • A Lexicon of Latin Grammatical Terminology
  • Robert Kaster
Samantha Schad . A Lexicon of Latin Grammatical Terminology. Studia Erudita, 6. Pisa: Fabrizio Serra, 2007. Pp. xxiv, 453. €150.00 (pb). ISBN 978-88-6227-003-8.

A few weeks before I received the review copy of Samantha Schad's thoroughly helpful Lexicon, a student in my intensive intermediate Latin course asked how the supine got its name. Resisting the impulse to improvise a just-so story ("Once upon a time there was an especially spineless little verb. . . ."), I confessed that I did not know and promised to report back. After a bit of digging, I found the article published by Emile Beneveniste (RPh 6 [1932] 136–37), in which he argued that the term is not a calque on Greek ὔπτιος, but rather represents a development from the sense "lazily lying on one's back" to "careless, indifferent," as applied to verbs that appear to be "indifferent" regarding the relation between voice and inflectional forms (e.g., verbs with active forms but apparently passive meanings like vapulo, or what we call semi-deponent verbs). Had I had Schad's book, I could simply have turned to pages 390–91, where I would have found a reference to and summary of Beneveniste's article, and would further have learned (among other things) that our modern use of the term is a good deal narrower than the ancient application.

Aided by Lomanto and Marinone's index to the (still unpublished) concordance of the Latin grammarians (Index Grammaticus [Hildesheim 1990]), Schad's work is based on all the authors listed in that index (vi–viii), with [End Page 342] some exclusions (of metrical or rhetorical writers, e.g., or texts written later than 700 C.E.) and some additions (Varro, Pompeius Festus, Quintilian, Aulus Gellius; use of the Servian commentaries on Vergil, however, seems unfortunately spotty). Not only a classicist but also a trained lexicographer (she currently is employed by the Oxford English Dictionary), Schad has used a clear and flexible "template" for the lexicon's articles: each begins with the terms and the English translation and definition and is followed by illustrative quotations from or citations of the grammatical writers to explain the term's classification, definition, etymology, and the like; the article then concludes by noting the corresponding Greek term, any synonyms, antonyms, or related terms, any relevant secondary literature, and any nongrammatical senses of the term. Schad's own discursive interventions are always concise and consistently helpful: see for example, her remarks (11, after Wackernagel following Trendelenburg) on why effectivus would have been more apt than accusativus as a term corresponding to the Greek αἰτιαχή The book also includes helpful English-Latin and Greek-Latin indices of grammatical terms (439–51).

In short, Schad has produced a worthy complement to V. Bécares Botas' Diccionario de terminologia grammatical griega (Salamanca 1985; see also the more compendious but still useful glossary of Greek grammatical terms in E. Dickey, Ancient Greek Scholarship [Oxford 2007] 219–65). Though the Lexicon obviously will be consulted much more often than it is read, there are interesting lessons to be learned throughout, and it will make vastly more manageable any attempt to understand important concepts such as natura as they were applied by the ancient grammarians to language. Useful as a resource in itself, and as a support for the growing interest in the development of ancient technical terminologies (e.g., D. R. Langslow, Medical Latin in the Roman Empire [Oxford 2000]), it belongs in the collection of every research library.

Robert Kaster
Princeton University
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9234
Print ISSN
0009-8418
Pages
pp. 342-343
Launched on MUSE
2009-06-03
Open Access
No
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