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As cognitive structures that capture patterns of sensorimotor experience, image schemas and their metaphorical interpretations not only deliver meaning in Latin’s semantic system but also organize other forms of Roman symbolic representation. This paper builds on Maurizio Bettini’s analysis of Latin’s metaphorical expression of time in terms of linear spatial relations by tracing the structuring effects of these metaphors on other aspects of Roman social practice, including its artistic practice. As I argue, apart from their linguistic manifestations, these metaphors motivate the “axial” configurations of certain socially instituted genealogical representations as well as provide principles of organization for the construction and decoration of material objects.

I. Introduction

As a broadly interpretive discipline that seeks to shed light on the meanings elaborated by members of Greek and Roman society in linguistic and other forms of representation, classical studies has long been interested in the relationship between words (or, more narrowly, texts) and images. This interest has developed in part as a result of disciplinary history: classical archaeology and art history first grew as branches of philology and often have been marked by a strongly textual orientation.1 It also arises in part because, as Jaš Elsner reminds us, the ancients themselves did not always neatly distinguish words from images:2 in Greek, for instance, the root of γραφή, γράφειν is ambiguous between “writing” and “drawing” and even “painting” (Her. Hist. 2.182, εἰκόνας ἑωυτου̑ γραφῃ̑ εἰκασμένην, “A likeness of himself represented in painting”). Lately, [End Page 381] special attention has been paid to the ways in which words and images appear to express analogous meanings:3 A certain scenic description in a literary text—say, that of the maenads in Euripides’ Bacchae (680–713) or of the temple of Apollo at Delphi in Ion (184–236)—can be said to be “like a picture” in evoking highly vivid images or even a specific work of art.4 Or a certain configuration of elements in a visual image can be said to capture meanings akin to a certain literary trope or even a specific figure of speech.5 Very often, the visual has actually been understood in linguistic terms: Claude Bérard in fact took the structure of language as an explicit model for analyzing Greek art in terms of syntactic combinations and paradigmatic substitutions.6 Similarly, Tonio Hölscher suggested that Roman art be treated as a “semantic system” (semantisches System) conveyed through a “language of images” (Bildsprache).7

Given this strong disciplinary interest in the relationship between word and image, the study of metaphor suggests itself as a fruitful area of research. Recent developments in the so-called “second generation” cognitive sciences show this to be a particularly promising subject, as it has been suggested that metaphor may function as a key node where linguistic and visual signification intersect. A central claim of theories of embodied cognition and language is that much of people’s ability to make sense of, and communicate about, their experience is by conceptual structures that emerge from the interaction of brain, body, [End Page 382] and environment. In cognitive linguistics, the meanings of many words are taken to correspond—either directly or indirectly through figurative interpretation—to recurring patterns of sensorimotor experience or “image schemas.” Because, however, image schemas are taken to operate at a very general level of understanding—and so may motivate symbolic representations of many different kinds—in my view their study affords the possibility of bringing together linguistic semantics with the interpretation of works of art (not to mention other forms of imaginative expression) under a unified cultural semiotics.8 To illustrate what this might look like, in this paper I reanalyze and extend Bettini’s findings on Latin’s expression of time in terms of metaphors of horizontal and vertical linear relations by tracing the structuring effects of these metaphors on other aspects of Roman society’s symbolic activity, including its artistic practice. Apart from their linguistic manifestations, these metaphors, I propose, not only motivate the specific axial configurations of certain socially instituted genealogical representations but also provide principles of topographical organization for the construction and decoration of material objects, as well as the mechanism of their interpretation.

II. Latin’s Spatial Metaphors of Time

Theories of embodiment developed in the cognitive sciences posit that human meaning-making, whether in language or any other form of symbolic representation, depends crucially on the character of human bodily engagement with the world.9 Traditional (formal) philosophical and linguistic semantics defines concepts in terms of “necessary and sufficient” features represented in the mind as language-like symbols and governed by syntactic principles. Proponents of the embodied view of meaning argue, instead, that categorization is grounded in humanly determined [End Page 383] perceptual, interactional, functional, and purposive properties.10 Thus, many categories are “ad-hoc” or “goal-derived” categories constructed on the basis of prior experience or context-induced value judgments (“things one takes on a camping trip,” “things to save from a burning house”),11 or out of richly imagined concrete scenes: even a seemingly highly stable taxonomy such as fruit, for instance, is probably not understood as something like “any sweet and fleshy product of a plant that contains seeds and can be eaten” but constructed on the fly by scanning memories of the produce section of a grocery store.12 Or consider the category of what is fake. Fake negates certain functional properties of the concepts it modifies, while preserving others: for instance, a fake gun looks like a real gun (perceptual), can be handled like one (interactional), and can be used in some of the same situations (purposive); however, it cannot perform the primary function of a gun (killing) and was not designed to do so.13

In many cases, scholars now claim that the meanings of words are actually defined imagistically or, to use the term of art, “image-schematically”—an image schema being, as Mark Johnson writes, “a recurring dynamic pattern of our perceptual interactions and motor programs that gives coherence and structure to our experience.”14 In this theory, image schemas are highly abstract structures of cognition that are correlates of (because dependent on the same neural architecture as) sensory and motor experience, and are thus susceptible of visual and kinesthetic transformation “in the mind’s eye”—rotation, scanning, clustering or segmentation, superim-position, path or end-point focus, following a trajectory, reflexivity, and so forth—as well as combination into more complex scenarios.15 Cognitive linguists argue that image schemas may also be metaphorically interpreted [End Page 384] as a support to abstract conceptualization, projecting conceptual structure and content from more readily comprehensible concrete domains to those less grounded in physical experience.16 In this way, image schemas are said to provide the inferential patterns that motivate the range of senses typically characterizing the meanings of words.17

The preposition de provides an example. As I have argued, definitions like “out of” or “away from” (not to mention “down from”) expressed in such propositional format cannot account for the sense of this word in many contexts.18 In the idiom de tergo and expressions like aram . . . de qua pariens arbore nixa dea est (Ov. Her. 21.99–100), its sense actually seems to include motion toward a location (something that comes de tergo moves in the direction of, not away from, a person; Leto is clearly leaning against the tree).19 In etiam si cecidit de genu pugnat (Sen. Dial. 1.2.6) the preposition must be interpreted in the sense not simply of “from” but more specifically of “up from.” Even if we take de’s meaning to be some very general notion of separation, its sense in deligare and devincire (“bind (together)”), where it implies the narrowing of physical space between two things, show this to be inadequate. To explain de’s full range of senses, we must instead take its meaning to be an image schema that portrays two bounded regions and a trajector’s motion between these regions (that is, in its spatial sense de indicates the origin-point of some movement always in reference to a destination). In this way, conventional uses of de in which the preposition designates the source of something as it moves closer to the position of the implied observer, or where the motion is seen as being in a direction away from the observer, can be accounted for in terms of naturalistic shifts of perspective over the imagined scenario. Moreover, de’s abstract senses—its ability to denote, for example, topicality (“about, concerning”), genealogical and kinship relations, negation, strengthening, pejoration—can then be explained on the basis of regularly occurring metaphors in [End Page 385] Latin’s semantic system, whereby the regions are figuratively interpreted as ideas, states, and so on.

Latin speakers’ conceptualization of time exemplifies just this sort of image-schematic structuring. In somewhat different terms, Bettini has argued that Latin’s conventional ways of talking about time are in fact organized by two metaphors in which temporal relations are conceived through images of one-dimensional linear spatial relations.20 In one metaphor, time is imagined as a vertically oriented line and temporal relations are understood in terms of schematic images of “above” and “below.” Thus, as examples (1)–(9) illustrate below, Latin speakers say that one time (a night, a day, a year . . .) or event (a battle, a crime, a marriage . . . ) is “above (supra)” or “higher than (superior)” another to mean that it happened before:21

  1. 1. quid superiore nocte egeris, “What you did on the previous night” (Cic. Cat. 1.1);

  2. 2. nonne timuisse . . . non parietes denique ipsos superiorum testis nuptiarum? “Did she not fear . . . the very walls, finally, as witnesses of her previous marriage?” (Clu. 6.15);

  3. 3. non oblivione amicitiae . . . superioribus temporibus ad te nullas litteras misi, “I have not neglected to send you any letters in the past days out of any forgetfulness of our friendship” (Fam. 5.17.1);

  4. 4. milites superioribus proeliis exercitati, “Soldiers trained in previous battles” (Caes. Gal. 2.20); [End Page 386]

  5. 5. has superioribus diebus refecerat atque omnibus rebus instruxerat, “He had completely refitted and rigged these (sc. ships) in the preceding days” (Civ. 2.5);

  6. 6. testimonium conveniens superiori facto, “Evidence fitting the previous act” (Hirt. Gal. 8.53);

  7. 7. paulo supra hanc memoriam, “A little before the memory of this generation” (Caes. Gal. 6.19.5);

  8. 8. res est praeterea et immensi operis, ut quae supra septingentesimum annum repetatur, “My subject involves great labor, to trace back more than seven hundred years” (;

  9. 9. praetoribus de superioris anni actis referentibus, “The praetors made a motion respecting the transactions of the prior year” (Suet. Jul. 23).22

Conversely, Latin speakers say that a time is “below (infra)” or “lower than (inferior)” another to mean it happened after, as in examples (10)–(15) below:

  1. 1. cum intercalatur inferiores quinque dies duodecimo demuntur mense, “When it (sc. February) is intercalated, the last five days are removed from the twelfth month” (Var. L. 6.13);

  2. 2. non infra superiorem Lycurgum fuit, “He (sc. Homer) was not after the elder Lycurgus” (Cic. Brut. 40);

  3. 3. aetate inferiores paulo quam Iulius, “A little younger in age than Julius” (182);

  4. 4. erant inferiores quam illorum aetas, “They were younger than those men” (Q. fr. 3.5.2);23

  5. 5. Ciceronis temporibus paulumque infra, “In Cicero’s days and a little later” (Quint. Inst. 1.7.20); [End Page 387]

  6. 6. transiit ad inferiora tempora . . . cum sentiret neque libere neque vere sibi de superioribus tradendi potestatem relictam, “He (sc. Claudius) skipped over to later times . . . since he felt that no opening had been left for him to deal freely and truly with the previous events” (Suet. Cl. 41.2).

In other words, Latin’s conventional ways of expressing temporal relations are structured systematically by a set of conceptual correspondences according to which “before is above” and “after is below.”24 These correspondences can be represented as a series of mappings or correspondences between the domain of spatial relations and that of time—namely, “a vertical line → time’s progress,” “above, up (on the line) → earlier time, before,” and “below, down (on the line) → later time, after.” They can also be represented graphically as in Fig. 1, where the solid line represents the vertical axis in three-dimensional coordinate geometry and coordinates above and below represent earlier and later times, respectively.

In the other metaphor, the time line is imagined as oriented horizontally (as a line extending through the body from back to front) and temporal relations are understood in terms of “before” and “behind”—in other words, in terms of their relative position in front of or in back of some reference object. There are two possibilities. As examples (16)–(22) illustrate, time may be conceived as a subject’s movement forward towards the future, times being static points along the trajectory of motion towards or to which the subject “goes” or “arrives” or “approaches”:

  1. 1. adolevit ad eam aetatem, “She has grown up to that age” (Pl. Cas. 47–48); [End Page 388]

  2. 2. semper ego usque ad hanc aetatem . . . tuis servivi servitutem imperiis, “Even up to this present age, I have always . . . paid all submission to the injunctions” (Trin. 301);

  3. 3. etsi pervivo usque ad summam aetatem, “Even if I live to the greatest old age” (Pl. Capt. 742);

  4. 4. pervenisse te ad ultimum aetatis humanae videmus, “We see that you have come through to the last moment of a man’s life” (Sen. Brev. vit. 3.2);

  5. 5. non cunctabitur sapiens ire ad mortem certo gradu, “The wise man will not hesitate to meet death with a sure step” (11.2);

  6. 6. cogita brevitatem huius spatii, per quod citatissimi currimus, “Consider the shortness of this space, through which we run so very fast” (Ep..99.7);

  7. 7. qui proxime praetextati aetatem accedet, “who will soon approach the age of young adulthood” (Just. Dig.

Figure 1. schema underlying Latin’s expressions of temporal relations.
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Figure 1.

above/below schema underlying Latin’s expressions of temporal relations.

In this subject-moving image, the subject’s position corresponds to “now,” and a time being in front of the subject means that it is in the future and its being in back of the subject means that it has already occurred in the past. This can be represented graphically by Fig. 2, where [End Page 389] the solid line represents time as the horizontal axis in a three-dimensional coordinate space and the arrow represents motion along this axis (and thus, metaphorically, temporal progression).

Figure 2. schema in subject-moving expressions.
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Figure 2.

front/back schema in subject-moving expressions.

It is important to recognize here that past and future on the time line are defined relative to ego’s bodily orientation. That is, according to the conceptual correspondences set up by the mappings of this metaphor, “the past is behind” and “the future is in front (of ego).”25 This is why (usque) ad—literally, “(all the way) to(ward)”has the figurative meaning it does: although ad can indicate motion conceivably in any direction (as in Ov. Fast. 6.786, ad stellas aliquis talia verba iacit, where it includes the notion of motion upward through contextual modulation), in human embodied experience, movement tends to occur in the direction we are facing. In metaphorically projecting spatial dimensionality onto the conception of time, ego therefore moves forward along the time line in the direction of (ad) specific time points in the future. This is why in examples (23)–(26) below, the adverb porro has the temporal meaning “in the future”: what is literally “straight on, forward, onward” relative to ego on the time line is metaphorically yet to occur:

  1. 1. quid mi hic adfers quam ob rem exspectem aut sperem porro non fore? “What are you offering me, why I should expect or hope it will not happen in the future?” (Ter. Ph. 1025);

  2. 2. me sollicitum . . . esse atque porro fore, “That I was disturbed and would be for the future” (Cato orat. fr. 39);

  3. 3. ni te perdite amo atque amare porro / omnes sum assidue paratus annos, “Unless I love you madly and am ready to [End Page 390] love you in the future without stopping through all the years” (Catul. 45.3–4);

  4. 4. neque quemquam alium diuinare posse, quid in animo Celtiberi haberent aut porro habituri essent, “Nor could anyone else guess what the Celtiberi intended, or what they were going to intend in the future” (Liv. 40.36.2).

This is also why, as in examples (27)–(32), one “looks backward” (respicere) to past events in Latin:

  1. 1. cum respicias inmensi temporis omne / praeteritum spatium, “When you look back at the whole passed-by space of immeasurable time” (Lucr. 3.854–855);

  2. 2. nam quoad longissime potest mens mea respicere spatium praeteriti temporis, “For as far as my mind can look back at the space of bygone time” (Cic. Arch. 1);

  3. 3. nec enim illis uacat praeterita respicere, “Nor do they have leisure to look back at what has gone before” (Sen. Brev. vit. 10.2);

  4. 4. nemo . . . libenter se in praeteritum retorquet, “No one gladly . . . twists himself back toward the past” (10.3);

  5. 5. cras vel atra / nube polum pater occupato / vel sole puro; non tamen inritum / quodcumque retro est efficiet neque / diffinget infectumque reddet / quod fugiens semel hora vexit. “Let Jupiter tomorrow with black / clouds preempt the sky / or bright sun: yet he will not cross out / whatever is behind or redevise / and make undone what once / the fleeting hour has brought” (Hor. Carm. 3.29.43–48);

  6. 6. iam post terga reliquit sexaginta annos, “Behind his back, he has left sixty years” (Juv.13.16);26

and why, equally, one “looks forward” (providere or prospicere) to future events: [End Page 391]

  1. 7. si quae eventura sunt provideant, “For if anything is to come out, let them foresee” (Pac. trag. fr. 407);

  2. 8. quod ego . . . sensi atque providi, “which I . . . perceived and foresaw” (Cic. Vat. 2.4);

  3. 9. in hoc enim fallimur, quod mortem prospicimus, “For in this we are deceived, that we look ahead to death” (Sen. Ep. 1.2.3).

Alternatively, times can be seen as moving together from the future toward the past from the perspective of a subject who occupies a fixed position on the time line. Thus, as examples (36)–(43) show, times are said to “come (venire),” “draw near (appropinquare),” “approach (accedere, appetere),” “come up (incidere),” and even “flow,” “fall away,” or “slip by” a person:

  1. 1. iam appetit meridies, “Already midday approaches” (Pl. Mos. 636);

  2. 2. quasi vero tempus dandi muneris non valde appropinquaret, “As if in reality the time for the exhibition was not drawing very near” (Cic. Sul. 54);

  3. 3. non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt, “Sometimes occasions like this come upon us” (Fin. 1.32);

  4. 4. quo plus sibi aetatis accederet, “The more old age approaches on him” (de Orat. 254);

  5. 5. veniet . . . aetas, “The age will come” (Verg. A. 1.283);

  6. 6. multa ferunt anni venientes commoda secum, “The years coming bring many advantages with them” (Hor. Ars 175);

  7. 7. lenior et melior fis accedente senecta? “Do you become softer and better when old age approaches?” (Hor. Ep. 2.2.211);

  8. 8. tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis, “Times slip by and we grow old with silent years” (Ov. Fast. 6.771).

In this time-moving image, events are reified, assigned a definite front and back (through a projection of the human “body set”),27 and oriented according to the time line’s directionality. This can be represented as in Fig. 3, where the solid line again represents time as the horizontal axis, [End Page 392] and the circles labeled x, y, and z represent distinct times whose movement with the time line constitutes temporal progression.

Figure 3. schema in time-moving expressions.
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Figure 3.

front/back schema in time-moving expressions.

Consequently, according to the conceptual mappings of this metaphor, one particular time or event being “in front of (ante)” another means that it happened before, and its being “behind (post)” means that it happened after (as in Fig. 3, time x is in front of and therefore earlier than time y, and time z is behind and therefore later than time y, from ego’s point of view)—irrespective of whether these temporal relations belong to a future or a past time (i.e., ego’s position does not necessarily correspond to “now”). That is, metaphorically speaking, “before is in front” and “after is behind,” as exemplified by examples (44)–(48):

  1. 1. ante lucem a portu me praemisisti domum, “Before daybreak, you sent me from the harbor home before you” (Pl. Am. 602);

  2. 2. ante solem occasum, “Before sunset” (Epid. 144);

  3. 3. ante vesperum, “Before evening” (Bac. 1029);

  4. 4. ante brumam, “Before winter” (Ter. Ph. 709);

  5. 5. ante hanc urbem conditam, “Before the founding of this city” (Cic. Tusc. 5.3.7);

and by:

  1. 1. qui foret post illa natus, “Who was born after these things” (Enn. Trag. fr. 67 Vahlens);

  2. 2. post id cum lassus fueris, “After that, when you’re tired out” (Pl. Cas. 130);

  3. 3. eum . . . numquam post illa vidi, “I never saw him after that” (Cur. 529);

  4. 4. aliquot post menses, “After some months” (Cic. S. Rosc. 128); [End Page 393]

  5. 5. post M. Brutum proconsulem, “After the proconsulate of M. Brutus” (Phil. 2.38.97);

  6. 6. Socrates Critoni dixit sibi post tertium diem esse moriendum, “Socrates said to Crito that after three days’ time he would have to die” (Div. 1.52). 28

III. Latin’s Spatial Metaphors as a “Folk” Model of Time

Evidence indicates that alongside these linear images of time a number of other metaphors contributed to Latin speakers’ understanding of temporality. For instance, figurative usage of the verb impendere with aevum (“age, era”), vita (“life”), biennium (“two-year period”), and other words denoting temporal intervals implies that Latin speakers could sometimes conceive of time as something to “weigh out” and thus (because in Roman society payments were originally made with weighed metals) “spend” as money. Perhaps Seneca (Brev. vit. 11.2) elaborates this image most fully when he describes the time of one’s life as something that cannot be “transferred as a debt” (delegatur) or “lessened by prodigality” (largitione detrahitur), but that is to be viewed instead “entirely as income” (tota . . . in reditu est). Similarly, when Ovid speaks of “voracious time” (Met. 15.234, edax tempus) and again of “voracious oldness” (Met. 15.872, edax vetustas), or Seneca writes that “greedy time devours us” (Tro. 400, tempus nos avidum devorat), this implies Latin speakers could also conceive of time in terms of (animalistic?) eating. Expressions like Vergil’s volvendis mensibus (A. 1.269), Lucretius’ volventia lustra (5.928), and Ovid’s volvens annus (Met. 5.565) indicate that they could conceptualize time in cyclic terms as well; Horace’s diffugere nives (Carm. 4.7), with its constant repetition of the prefix [End Page 394] re- (“back; again”), in fact tries to reconcile this understanding of time with the linearity of verse.29 In this light, the overall system of metaphors converging on Latin speakers’ conceptualization of time probably resembles something like Fig. 4 below.

Why does this range of different images converge on Latin speakers’ metaphorical conceptualization of time? Cognitive linguists argue that where a concept is defined by several distinct metaphors, these metaphors typically work together to produce a coherent understanding of that concept’s various aspects.30 Although the metaphors may fail to provide a consistent image to conceptualization, they will tend to fit together as a system, each metaphor delivering an understanding of some dimension of the metaphorically defined concept. Just so, the “weighing out” metaphor maps Latin speakers’ knowledge about the function of money onto time, so that time can be assigned a value and treated like any other resource or market commodity.31 This is why the metaphor occurs when the “worth” of some time-consuming activity—for example, service to the emperor (Tac. Ann. 12.65); the pursuit of fame (Stat. Silv. 5.1.63); recounting Augustus’ achievements (Vell. 2.89)—is at issue. The “devouring” metaphor maps knowledge about how hungry animals eat their prey onto time, to help convey something about time’s destructive effects: namely, that it acts quickly, ferociously, and without mercy on human beings. The “revolving” metaphor maps what is most likely an astronomical image of the apparent revolution of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky onto time to capture the perception that time is ordered by continuously repeated temporal units (days, months, seasons, years).32 The vertical and horizontal metaphors, meanwhile, project paired spatial images onto time as a means of imposing a basic scalar structure on the otherwise undifferentiated flux of time. [End Page 395]

Figure 4. Metaphors converging on Latin speakers’ conceptualization of time.
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Figure 4.

Metaphors converging on Latin speakers’ conceptualization of time.

Still, the sorts of meanings delivered by Latin’s “weighing out”, “revolving,” and “devouring” metaphors of time need to be distinguished from those of the linear metaphors. To begin with, these metaphors involve the projection of conceptual content that tends to be relatively rich in structure and complex in imagery: correspondingly, the meanings they make available to Latin speakers are highly particular and so contextually circumscribed. Furthermore, they are largely “one-shot” metaphors that map isolated images onto the conceptualization of (specific aspects of) time and consequently lack widespread effects in Latin’s semantic system. For instance, while it is possible to find a word like orbis (“circle”) referring to the repetitive nature of temporal events,33 it does not appear to be idiomatic to speak [End Page 396] in Latin of, say, time’s “circumference” or of an “arc” of time: the image of “revolving” times may in fact depend on a Greek poetic metaphor.34 Similarly, we do not find Latin speakers conventionally referring to temporal events as “coins,” nor to time’s “jaws” or “fangs.” At the same time, the images of “weighing out” time and of time that “devours” are specialized subcases of metaphors that operate at a high order of semantic structure: the former characterizes a very general concept of devoting a large amount of some (literal or figurative) resource to an activity, while the latter defines the destructive effects of any (again literal or figurative) force.

The linear metaphors, by contrast, deliver images to Latin speakers’ conceptualization of time that are structurally and imagistically minimal: that is, above, below, front, and back all represent structures of meaning that depict highly schematic spatial configurations consisting of a limited number of elements largely undefined as to their conceptual content. They also involve pairings of images that are systematically related, in the sense that above and below, front and back are contrastive images whose opposition in understanding emerges naturally from human bodily experience.35 Because of gravity’s pervasive operation on our bodies and objects within terrestrial environments, we experience things as being up or down in relation to one another. Likewise, because the sensorimotor capacities through which we engage with our environments tend to be localized on one side of the human body, we understand ourselves as functionally asymmetrical also on the horizontal axis: we understand ourselves, that is, as having a definite front and back. Accordingly, in being interpreted metaphorically of time, these images characterize a very general understanding of this domain—in effect delineating time as an aspect of experience and endowing temporality with a relational structure—and so organize a great portion of Latin speakers’ talk about time over different authors and genres, different periods of the language, and different levels of the linguistic code.

This is not to suggest that the horizontal and vertical images of time are in any way fungible in Latin.36 While serving the same basic function, [End Page 397] their meaning differs in at least one important respect. Through the metaphorical mapping of images of above/below spatial relations onto the conceptualization of time, temporal relations in this metaphor emerge as a difference of values inherent in the timescale itself. The vertical metaphor thus focuses on a subject-neutral or “allocentric” view of temporal relations. Through the mapping of front/back orientation onto times, temporal relations are instead construed always relative to a specific perspective (even if no commitment is made as to the location of a subject’s now). The horizontal metaphor thus focuses on a more subject-oriented or “egocentric” view. In this way, Latin’s linear metaphors of time appear to work together to capture the very likely universal human experience of time both as something that exists independently of, and prior to, any individual subjectivity (that is, we understand that time is not defined by any one human existence) and as something inextricably bound up with that subjectivity (still, we experience time as ordered fundamentally by our own human concerns and indeed as something we can personally “have”).37 Though these images, which are inconsistent in that the one construes time along a vertical and the other along a horizontal axis, probably would not support a scientific theory of time, as a system, they nevertheless constitute a workable “folk” model apparently sufficient to Latin speakers’ reasoning and communicating about temporal relations for most everyday purposes.38

IV. Latin’s Spatial Metaphors as a “Cultural” Model

Of course, Latin is not unique in recruiting spatial imagery—and indeed images of horizontal and vertical spatial relations very particularly—towards [End Page 398] the metaphorical conceptualization of time. Cognitive linguists have described this as a feature of many—and, what’s more, many typologically unrelated—languages, even if the relative incidence of each image varies from language to language.39 In English and German, for example, the horizontal metaphor is robustly evidenced and the vertical metaphor is extremely attenuated,40 while French preserves the latter in expressions like haut moyen âge (“early,” literally “high middle age”) and basse antiquité (“late,” literally “low antiquity”).41 Similar situations obtain in Hindi, Sesotho, Turkish, Hawaiian, many South American languages, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese—where it is possible to find the spatial terms shàng (“up”) and xià (“down”) as well as qián (“front”) and hòu (“back”) used in time expressions to signify “last” and “next,” respectively.42 Linear spatialization thus appears to be a widely distributed, and perhaps universal, aspect of human conceptualizations of time.43 If Latin is fairly typical of [End Page 399] the world’s languages in this respect, then what possible cultural significance do its metaphors of time possess? Its conforming to a pattern of metaphorical meaning common to many languages and cultures hardly seems to lend itself to the characterization of what is distinctive about Roman culture.

In my view, linguistic metaphors become anthropologically revealing when they appear to be reflected in configurations of culture at large—when they are “made real,” that is, in a society’s institutions, practices, or material objects. Correspondences that Bettini has pointed out between Latin’s time metaphors and certain socially instituted genealogical representations therefore seem telling. He has argued that the vertical metaphor of time can in fact be detected in the form of the aristocratic stemma, where the understanding of temporal relations in terms of “above” and “below” is given concrete realization in the spatial arrangement of imagines of family members of different generations, with members of older generations located above and those of younger generations located below. Thus, he writes, “the ‘high’ character attributed to earlier time and the ‘low’ character attributed to later time,” . . . “find a precise correspondence and illustration in the structure of the genealogical stemma.”44 The horizontal metaphor, meanwhile, can be seen to give shape to the pompa funebris, where actors impersonating family members of older generations come physically before, and younger generations after, in the processional line escorting the deceased’s body. In other words, “‘Before’ is where the founder comes . . . ‘Behind’ . . . follow the more recent ancestors . . . and last of all, farther behind than everyone, comes the latest member of the line to die.”45

I would add that what most likely accounts for the specific axial orientations of these forms of genealogical representation, namely the verticality of the stemma and the horizontality of the funeral procession, is the main meaning focus of each metaphor.46 What I mean is that, symbolically speaking, the stemma is fundamentally about the organization of a kinship group as it occurs irrespective of any one individual, and thus its representation of temporal relations in spatial [End Page 400] terms of “above” and “below” finds motivation in the more allocentric construal of time provided by the vertical image. The funeral procession is instead about the position of a single individual within the generational order, and so the horizontal image, which captures a more egocentric view of time, provides a basis for its representation of temporal relations in terms of “before” and “behind.” Put differently, in the stemma the ordering of generations is arranged vertically because in this case the network of family relations (or a portion of it) is meant to be represented without reference to the viewpoint of any one person within this network, and the vertical metaphor engenders just such a perspective-neutral understanding of temporality. In the funeral procession, however, the ordering of generations is arranged horizontally because attention is meant to be called to the position of a single family member within this ordering, and the horizontal metaphor captures this sort of perspective-specific view of temporal relations.47

Now, in making such a claim I may seem to be privileging abstract conceptual principles over other more concrete physical considerations that may also (or in greater measure) constrain forms of symbolic expression. After all, if the stemma consists of imagines displayed on a wall (cf. Plin. Nat. 35.6; perhaps in alcoves: Cic. Mur. 88), is it not natural that the order of generations should be represented in terms of vertical spatial relations? Likewise, given the reality of parading through streets (especially narrow Roman ones), how else could this order be represented in the funeral procession if not in terms of horizontal relations? More than anything, basic physics seems to shape the unfolding of these symbolic forms along a particular spatial axis. This largely misses the point, however. Of course, objects arrayed on a vertical surface must be located some above and some below. Of course, bodies traversing a horizontal surface must come some before and some after. Yet this does [End Page 401] not explain why, in the first place, Latin speakers should have found a procession to be an effective representation of generational ordering in the perspective-specific context of a funeral, or why they should have considered the stemma most suited to providing a deictically neutral view of kinship relations. What makes each of these forms a fitting choice in context is, as I see it, the operation of these distinct metaphors of time and the particular construal of temporal relations that they severally engender. If the choice seems natural and intuitive, it is only because our culture largely shares these metaphors.

At the same time, I may seem to be advocating a strongly Whorfian position on the relationship between language and thought: that is, that the structure of the Latin language, including its metaphorical structure, determines (in the sense of “limits”) its speakers’ possible ways of conceiving, and thus also of representing, experience. Although such a position would not be entirely indefensible—experimental studies have shown that the grammatical structure of a language can, in certain circumstances, influence thought and even perception—this is not in fact the argument I am making.48 My claim, instead, is that the vertical and horizontal metaphors very clearly recognizable in Latin speakers’ talk about time operated in Roman society at the level of shared conceptualization and as such provided ready-made models of understanding capable of delivering certain schematic images and thus certain meanings through language as well as through other forms of symbolic representation. In other words, in my view, the metaphorically structured conceptualizations that Latin speakers have of time are prior to their encodings in any particular verbal, visual, or behavioral form. If the forms of the patrician stemma and funeral procession make sense to Latin speakers, it is because they are maximally coherent with conceptualizations that also motivate conventional patterns of speech in Latin, not because they depend on these linguistic patterns.

From this perspective, it is interesting to compare Latin’s linear metaphors of time with ways of expressing temporal relations in Greek. As examples (55)–(63) reveal, Greek speakers sometimes talk about times of day, seasons, years, or periods of life as “coming” or “approaching” towards a person: [End Page 402]

  1. 1. είς ὅ κεν ἔλθῃ νύξ, “When night came” (Hom. Il. 14.77);

  2. 2. νὺξ ἐπῄει, “Night was coming” (Aesch. Pers. 378);

  3. 3. πρὶν δωδεκάτη μόλῃ ἠώς, “Before the twelfth dawn comes” (Hom. Il. 24.781);

  4. 4. μέμβλωκε μάλιστα ἠ̑μαρ, “The day has almost passed” (Od. 17.190);

  5. 5. ἐπήλυθον ὡ̑ραι, “The seasons came” (2.107);

  6. 6. χειμὼν ἐπιών, “Winter coming” (Hes. Op. 675);

  7. 7. ἐπὴν ἔλθῃσι θέρος, “When summer came” (Hom. Od. 11.192);

  8. 8. ἐννέα δὴ βεβάασι . . . ἐνιαυτοί, “Nine years . . . have gone” (Il. 2.134);

  9. 9. είς ὅ κε γη̑ρας / ἔλθῃ καὶ θάνατος, “When old age and death come” (13.59–60).

Examples (64)–(68) show that the Greeks can also talk about a subject as “arriving at” or “coming to” particular times:

  1. 10. οὐκ ἄν τις τούτων γε ἐΰθρονον Ἠω̑ ἵκοιτο, “Not any one of these shall arrive at well-throned dawn” (Hom. Od. 17.497);

  2. 11. ἥβης . . . ἵκετο μέτρον, “He arrived at the measure of youth” (Il. 11.225);

  3. 12. οὐδ’ ἵκετο γήραος οὐδόν, “He did not reach the threshold of old age” (Od. 15.246);

  4. 13. οὐδ’ ἐπὶ γη̑ρας / ἵκετ’ ἐνὶ μεγάροισι, “He did not reach old age in the palace” (8.226–27);

  5. 14. οἱ ἄλλοι πάντες ὅσοι ἐνταυ̑θα ἠ̑λθον ἡλικίας, “All the others who have reached this time of life” (Pl. R. 329b).

This indicates Greek largely shared Latin’s horizontal metaphor in both its time-moving and ego-moving variations.49 This is why it is possible to find expressions such as διαλιπούσης δ’ ἡμέρας μάχη αὐ̑θις γίγνεται (“The battle began again after a day’s interval,” literally, “after a day had left behind,” Th. [End Page 403] 3.74.1) alongside those like ἐπειδὰν τὰ τριάκοντα ἔτη ἐκβαίνωσιν (“when they are more than thirty years old,” literally, “when they depart from thirty years,” Pl. R. 537d). Furthermore, as Silvia Luraghi has shown, the Greek preposition πρό can signify temporal anteriority (as in ἠω̑θι πρό, “before daybreak” or πρὸ του̑ θανάτου, “before dying”) through figurative extension of its literal spatial sense of “in front of,” while μετά, literally “behind,” can signify temporal posteriority (as in μετὰ ταυ̑τα, “afterwards” or μετὰ τρει̑ς ἡμέρας, “after three days”), indicating Greek included a time-oriented image as well, even if it appears somewhat more restricted than Latin’s.50

Traces of a vertical metaphor of time are also detectable in Greek, though words denoting “up” and “down,” “above” and “below,” or “high” and “low” do not appear to have been employed of temporal relations with the same regularity, or in the same neat conceptual opposition, as in Latin. For instance, ἄνω (“upwards”) and ἐπάνω (“above”) can sometimes have the sense of “before,” but this usage is limited mainly to the language of Plato and, later, Demosthenes and Polybius.51 Furthermore, a word like ἄκρος (“high(est)”) may be used in certain (mostly poetic) contexts in the sense of “early”—as in, for example, ἄκρᾳ σὺν ἑσπέρᾳ, “in the early evening” (Pi. P. 11.10) or ἄκρου του̑ ἔαρος, “in early spring” (IPE 12.352.29)—but more usually it denotes a temporal midpoint, as in ἄκρου του̑ θέρεος, “in midsummer” (Hp. Aph. 3.18) or ἄκρας νυκτός, “in the middle of the night” (S. Aj. 285). Likewise, κάτω (“downwards”) and κάτωθεν (“below”) can be found in the sense of “after”—for instance, in Plato’s τοὺς εἰς τὸ κάτωθεν, “those of a later period” (Ti. 18d)—but this usage is infrequent before the Roman era and its increasing appearance in authors like Aelian and Plutarch indicates likely influence from Latin. And κατώτερος (“lower”) may sometimes mean “younger” (as in Call. Cer. 130, αἵτινες ἑξήκοντα κατώτεραι, “as many as are younger than sixty”), but other words with similar spatial meanings—for example, νέ(ι) ατος, νειρός, ταπεινός—are probably never found with temporal significations (the connection of νεί- < IE *ni “(be)low” with νέος “new, young” is [End Page 404] spurious).52 “Upwards” (ἄνω) can also be found referring to the future, as it in Lucian’s τί δέ με ἀδικήσαντα τοσου̑τον εἴας ἄνω τὸν χρόνον; “What did I do wrong that you were permitting me so long a life?” (literally, “so much [so tall?] up time”) (Cat. 7.6).

Thus Greek and Latin’s linear metaphors of time only partially overlap. If Latin speakers made ready use of “up” and “down,” “above” and “below,” “high” and “low” in conceptualizing temporal relations, the image of a vertical line does not appear to have afforded the Greek imagination the same coherent metaphor for these purposes. The difference seems more than a linguistic curiosity, however. Given Greek speakers’ lack of any systematic vertical metaphor of time and thus of any symbolic motivation, as part of their culture, for representing the temporal ordering of generations in these terms, it cannot appear coincidental that Greek society’s principal model of family relations, the ὰγχιστεία, envisioned the group of “close” kin (note the similar spatialization in English) as composed almost exclusively of contemporary “horizontal” ties53 or that family genealogies, when they were kept, typically took the form of lists or narratives similar to the catalogues of Homeric epic, preserved orally or in writing, but were never represented in any material, artefactual form similar to the Roman stemma.54 Athenian notions of autochthony, according to which what comes before is “below” and what comes after is “above,” in fact appear to presuppose a model of temporal relations that fully inverts the stemma’s vertical scale.55 This suggests [End Page 405] that Greek’s conceptual system, without any consistent spatialization of time in terms of “above” and “below,” did not commit its speakers to any particular organization of temporality along the vertical axis.

To be clear. I am not suggesting that a Roman stemma would have been uninterpretable by Greek speakers. Even if a vertical metaphor of time was marginal in their conceptual system, its availability nevertheless implies Greek speakers could easily have intuited the stemma’s meaning, even if its form would not have appeared particularly salient. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine what sense Roman representations of kinship would make to speakers of Aymara, who conceptualize time as a static physical landscape where the future is behind the speaker and the past is in front of the speaker—saying, for instance, qhipa mara, literally “back year,” for “next year” and nayra mara, literally, “front year,” for “last year” and gesturing accordingly.56 Or for that matter to speakers of the Australian language Kuuk Thaayorre, which expresses spatial relations in terms of absolute cardinal directionality (so, to say that something is in front of you, you say it is to the north, if facing north; to the east, if facing east, and so on). Though spatial words are not regularly used metaphorically of time in this language, its speakers nevertheless appear to conceptualize temporal relations according to this system. When asked to place pictures depicting some sequence of actions in temporal order, for example, they consistently arrange earlier images towards the east and later images towards the west (regardless of the direction they are facing), obviously on the model of the sun’s path through the sky during the course of a day.57

Latin’s vertical and horizontal images of time—each with its more allocentric or more egocentric construal of temporal relations—in fact appear to automatically structure how Latin speakers go about representing temporal relations to themselves in their symbolic expression. Consider the representation of temporal relations on menologia rustica like the one found by Angelo Colucci in Rome (dating to the first century [End Page 406] C.E., now in the Museo della Civiltà Romana, Naples, inv. n. 3485; text in ILS 8745 = CIL 12 280 = 6.2305 = Inscr. Ital. 13.2.47) or for that matter on large-scale wall calendars like the Fasti Antiates Maiores (84–55 b.c.e.; text in A. Degrassi, Fasti et Elogia (Rome 1963) 1–28). Both represent the order of the months of the year along the horizontal axis and the order of days within each month (the most religiously important ones, at any rate) along the vertical axis. The selection of the horizontal axis for representing the division of the year into months and of the vertical axis for the division of each month into days is very likely conditioned again by the main-meaning focus of each metaphor. The horizontal axis is preferred for the months of the year because the position of each month in the annual sequence is a matter of more subject-specific relations: February follows January, March follows February, and so forth. The months are (more) “egocentric” in the sense that they are specifically named, each constituting a distinct subjectivity within a determined ordering. Indeed, in Roman culture the months are very often anthropomorphized and thus have a definite “facing”:58 this is why Janus, who ends the old year and begins the new year, is represented as looking in two directions, both forward and backward along the horizontal time line.59 The vertical axis is instead preferred for the days of the months because the ordering of the days within the month is more allocentric, in the sense that, particularly in the Fasti, the same pattern repeats itself without significant differentiation for each of the months (the relations between the days of the months being a feature of the system as a whole) and that, with the well-known exceptions of the Kalends, Nones, and Ides, they do not have an articulated nomenclature. The days of the month have a specific numerical ordering (e.g., ante diem tertium, quartum, quintum Nonas Ianuarias), but are subject-neutral—they do not face one another.

Or take the marble relief from Amiternum shown in Fig. 5, which depicts a funeral procession: at right are the musicians who lead the parade, farther to the left is the deceased’s bier, and finally at the far left his bereaved descendants. Time thus unfolds along a horizontal axis from right to left, right being “before” and left “after” (in projecting the [End Page 407]

Figure 5. Late republican or early imperial marble relief depicting a funerary procession. Amiternum, c. 50 Now in the Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo, L’Aquila.
Click for larger view
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Figure 5.

Late republican or early imperial marble relief depicting a funerary procession. Amiternum, c. 50 b.c.e. Now in the Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo, L’Aquila.

(Photo by Christopher Johanson, used by permission).

image to two-dimensional space, Roman culture appears largely neutral as to the lateral directionality of the time line).60 At the same time, the relief’s vertical registers appear to define an additional temporal scale, at least in part. Though the scenes of mourning on the left presumably take place simultaneously to the procession and so demonstrate no temporal distinction between registers, the parade of musicians on the right extends over two registers clearly differentiated temporally. The horn-blowers and trumpeter at the top represent those who come first in line, while the pipers at the bottom are following. Time thus also runs vertically with “before” above and “after” below. Again, however, even taking into account the particular (not to say peculiar) constraints placed on representations of time and space in ancient forms of art,61 the horizontal and vertical axes appear to differ in their meaning focus. As with the lived pompa funebris, selection of the horizontal axis to represent the deceased’s position within the order of generations is [End Page 408] likely motivated by the more subject-specific character of the horizontal metaphor of time; the vertical axis is chosen to represent temporal relations detached from this perspective because of vertical time’s more subject-neutral framing.62

V. Conclusion

In this paper, I have argued that certain patterns of figurative meaning in Latin’s expressions of time are also recognizable in Roman society’s symbolic activities more broadly. Specifically, I have argued that Latin speakers’ conceptualization of time is structured metaphorically (in part) by image schemas of linear spatial relations, and suggested that the understanding of temporal relations delivered by these metaphors differs in at least one respect: namely, that the vertical image of time construes the ordering of time allocentrically (without reference to any subject), whereas through the horizontal image construes this ordering egocentrically (always relative to a viewpoint). I have then indicated a number of contexts in which each metaphor’s main-meaning focus appears to motivate the specific axial arrangements of visual representations.

These have only been hints. Nevertheless, as patterns of meaning whose organizing effects are detectable widely over Roman society’s symbolic expression, the interest of these metaphors seems to go beyond claims as to their universality. In structuring a significant portion of Latin speakers’ conventional talk about time, as well as providing a regular model for the topographical distribution of temporally related events in visual space, they appear to constitute an important theme of Roman cultural representation. Indeed, if Latin speakers’ everyday talk, ritualized behaviors, and interaction with objects in even seemingly unrelated areas of life—kinship practices, calendar making, the [End Page 409] visual arts—all embodied the same metaphorical structuring of time in linear spatial terms, this would have contributed to a perception of these activities as coming together under a cohesive signifying order. Topography, too, would have corroborated this perception, as the urban environment itself seems to have afforded a context of lived experienced perfectly recapitulating this metaphorical structure. Climbing the Palatine Hill to where Romulus’ hut could be seen, or the Capitoline Hill to where the arx and other monuments of the city’s earliest history stood, a Latin speaker would have appreciated “before is above” as a feature of the landscape. Similarly, walking from, say, the temple of Mars Ultor through the porticoes of the Forum of Augustus, where statues of the Julian family and of Rome’s summi viri were displayed chronologically earliest to last, a Latin speaker would have recognized “after is in front of (ego)” as something literally true of the world.

The sorts of conclusions that can be drawn about Latin’s time metaphors specifically imply that attending to the image-schematic and metaphorical structuring of concepts generally can offer benefits to classical studies. First, it offers teachers of the classical languages a framework for explaining and thus making more readily comprehensible to students the meanings of idioms in Latin and Greek. When seemingly semantically opaque idiomatic expressions can be contextualized within pervasive metaphorical themes, the meanings of those idioms should become reasonable and inferable and therefore easier to learn: As Susan Irujo argues, “Teaching students strategies for dealing with figurative language will help them to take advantage of the semantic transparency of some idioms. If they can figure out the meaning of an idiom by themselves, they will have a link from the idiomatic meaning to the literal words, which will help them learn the idiom.”63 By giving students linguistic and cultural knowledge that helps them to reason metaphorically “in the native’s own terms” (that is, to think the way a Roman might have thought), this approach may actually enable students to make the kind of contextually dependent predictions of meaning that are necessary for understanding not only the grammatical and lexical cohesion of texts but also their coherence with (and within) the cultural system.64 [End Page 410]

Second, it affords the possibility of taking a more “emic” perspective in our analyses of the Latin language and of Roman literature. An emic perspective, as we know, privileges “native” ways of knowing and of representing the world, rather than concepts belonging to the observer’s own intellectual framework.65 By illustrating how even demonstrably human-universal patterns of conceptualization can come to be articulated in idiosyncratic ways across the creative expression of a particular “languaculture” (to use Michael Agar’s handy portmanteau),66 a metaphor-based approach promises to reveal the sorts of symbolic themes that go toward making up a society’s distinctive repertoire of meanings: in a word, its culture. Certainly, anthropology has long been interested in the thematicity of culture, from Ruth Benedict’s definition of culture as “personality writ large” and Clyde Kluckhohn’s concept of “configurations,” to Claude Lévi-Strauss’s “cultural axioms” and Clifford Geertz’s “cultural templates.” Yet an awareness that metaphor is probably the form of symbolic representation most directly revealing of this aspect of culture is only now congealing as part of the “cognitive revolution” taking place in the social sciences and humanities. Especially when combined with a comparative perspective, a metaphor-based approach can highlight how the images through which Latin speakers capture their concepts, though based on experiences shared by presumably all human beings, constitute a culture-specific feature of their signifying order.

More generally, it suggests the possibility of helping to bridge the gap between the interpretation of texts on the one hand and works of art and architecture on the other. In treating metaphor as a matter of conceptualization, it takes as granted that the same figurative relationships shaping forms of linguistic expression will be manifest also in the alimentary, vestimentary, gestural, and kinesic codes underlying social behavior, as well as in the aesthetic codes that underpin material culture. Of course, by “same” I do not mean that the visual code should be treated as merely a calque on the linguistic. It is possible to take Hölscher’s metaphor too [End Page 411] literally. The point is not to seek some kind of one-to-one correspondence between certain rhetorical figures of speech and visual configurations, or between certain strategies of literary description (even in terms of favored syntactic constructions) and motifs of artistic composition. In a cognitivist perspective, all representational modalities are grounded in the same conceptual structures (including metaphorical ones) and guided by the same cognitive processes of meaning-making. The point, then, is to discover how language and art, as distinct forms of representation each with its own standards of signification, convey the repertoire of shared meanings (including metaphorical meanings) that constitute a society’s signifying order: in a word, its culture. A metaphor-based approach therefore lends itself very well to bringing together a cognitive archaeology and a cognitive linguistics under a unified method capable of delineating a distinctively Roman way of having the world.67 [End Page 412]

William Michael Short
The University of Texas at San Antonio


1. J. Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece (Cambridge 2001). See also S. Marchand, Down from Olympus (Princeton 1996); J. Tanner, The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece (Cambridge 1996) 15–21.

2. J. Elsner, ed., Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge 1996) 1.

3. Cases where a specific correspondence can be established between a literary work and a work of art have been amply discussed by K. Schefold, Myth and Legend in Early Greek Art (London 1966); C. Johanson, “A Walk with the Dead,” in B. Rawson, ed., A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Oxford 2011) 408–30; S. Lowenstam, “The Uses of Vase-Depictions in Homeric Studies,” TAPA 122 (1992) 165–98; S. Lowenstam, “Talking Vases: The Relationship between the Homeric Poems and Archaic Representations of Epic Myth,” TAPA 127 (1997) 21–76; S. Goldhill and R. Osborne, eds., Art and Text in Ancient Greek Culture (Cambridge 1993); H. Shapiro, Myth Into Art (London 1994); J. Elsner, ed., Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge 1996); A. Snodgrass, Homer and the Artists (Cambridge 1998); M. Stansbury-O’Donnell, Pictorial Narrative in Ancient Greek Art (Cambridge 1999); N. Rutter and B. Sparkes, eds., Word and Image in Ancient Greece (Edinburgh 2000); J. P. Small, The Parallel Worlds of Classical Art and Text (Cambridge 2003); L. Giuliani, Image and Myth (Chicago 2013).

4. On ekphrasis, see F. Zeitlin, “The Artful Eye,” in S. Goldhill and R. Osborne, eds., Art and Text in Ancient Greek Culture (Cambridge 1993) 138–96; R. Webb, Ekphrasis, Imagination, and Persuasion in Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Practice (Farnham 2009); I. De Jong, ed., Space in Ancient Greek Literature (Leiden 2012).

5. See for example D. Steiner, Images in Mind (Princeton 2001).

6. C. Berard, Essais sèmiotiques (Lausanne 1983).

7. T. Hölscher, The Language of Images in Roman Art (Cambridge 2004).

8. The perspective of an anthropologically oriented cognitive semiotics has been developed by P. A. Brandt, Spaces, Domains, and Meaning: Essays in Cognitive Semiotics (Frankfurt 2004); G. Palmer, Toward A Theory of Cultural Linguistics (Austin 1996); B. Shore, Culture in Mind (Oxford 1996); M. Danesi and P. Perron, Analyzing Culture (Bloomington 1999).

9. G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago 1980); G. Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind (Chicago 1987); M. Johnson, “Image-Schematic Bases of Meaning,” Semiotic Inquiry 9 (1989) 109–18; R. Langacker, Grammar and Conceptualization (Berlin 1999); L. Barsalou, “Perceptual Symbol Systems,” Behav Brain Sci 22 (1999) 577–660.

10. See E. Rosch, “Natural Categories,” Cogn.Psych. 4 (1973) 328–50; C. Fillmore, “Frame Semantics,” in P. Kiparsky, ed., Linguistics in the Morning Calm (Seoul 1982) 111–37; Lakoff (above, n.9); Johnson (above, n.9); J. Taylor, Linguistic Categorization: Prototypes in Linguistic Theory (Oxford 1989); S. Atran, Cognitive Foundations of Natural History (Cambridge 1993).

11. See L. Barsalou, “Ad hoc categories,” Mem.Cognition 11 (1983) 211–27; L. Barsalou, “Ideals, Central Tendency, and Frequency of Instantiation as Determinants of Graded Structure in Categories,” J.Exp.Psychol. 11 (1985) 629–54.

12. F. Vallee-Tourangeau, S. Anthony, and N. Austin, “Strategies for Generating Multiple Instances of Common and Ad Hoc Categories,” Memory 6 (1998): 555–92.

13. This analysis comes from Lakoff and Johnson (above, n.9) 121.

14. M. Johnson, The Body in Mind (Chicago 1987) xiv.

15. See R. Gibbs and H. Colston, “The Cognitive Psychological Reality of Image Schemas and Their Transformations,” Cogn Linguistics 6 (1995) 347–78; T. Ziemke et al., eds., Body, Language, and Mind: Sociocultural Situatedness (Berlin 2008).

16. See Lakoff and Johnson (above, n.9); Lakoff (above, n.9); Johnson (above, n.9).

17. Cognitive linguists take image schemas to deliver the “structured” or “motivated polysemy” of words; see H. Cuyckens and B. Zawada, eds., Polysemy in Cognitive Linguistics (Amsterdam 2001).

18. W. M. Short, “Latin De: A View From Cognitive Semantics,” CIAnt 32 (2013) 378–405.

19. Ovid’s expression, de qua arbore nixa est, actually appears to render Callimachean ἀπὸ δ’ ἐκλίθη ἔμπαλιν (H. 4.209), which in turn reworks Hymn. Hom. Ap. 17, κεκλιμένη πρὸσ μακρὸν ὄρος and 26, κλινθει̑σα πρὸς Κύθος ὄρος.

20. M. Bettini, Anthropology and Roman Culture: Kinship, Time, and Images of the Soul (Baltimore 1991).

21. Because the above/below schema imposes a relative rather than absolute scale of values on time (i.e., there is no fixed temporal reference point according to which times are reckoned: see below), it is normal that we find the comparative forms of superus and inferus used in temporal referencing. The usage of Cic. Arat. fr. 310 (vv. 72–73), atque etiam supero navi pelagoque vacato / mense (cf. Arat. Phaen. 300, καὶ δ’ ἂν ἔτι προτέρω γε θαλάσσῃ πολλὰ πεπονθώς, where the Greek shows a comparative) is perhaps due to metrical considerations. Superlative supremus in the temporal sense of “last, final” (cf. suprema, “last part of the day” and the idiom diem supremum obire [“go to meet the final (literally, ‘highest’) day”])—where according to the metaphor the meaning should be “earliest”—is probably by analogy to extremus. See O. Spevak, The Noun Phrase in Classical Latin Prose (Leiden 2014) 172–73; P. Poccetti, “Ultimus et proximus entre fonctions anaphoriques et fonctions déictiques du latin et des langues sabelliques aux développements romans,” in M. Fruyt and O. Spevak, eds., La quantification en latin (Paris 2011) 273–90.

22. Here and below my selection of examples is intended to illustrate—to the extent possible—the temporal range of the metaphorical mapping in question, as well as its distribution across different authors, genres, and forms of linguistic encoding. The lists are meant to be representative samples, rather than exhaustive catalogues; they are normally organized primarily by linguistic form and secondarily in chronological order. Even if it is not always possible to find examples of each of the mappings at every period of the language, most are widely represented in Latin semantic system over time, giving the system a claim to diachronic validity.

23. More conventionally, minores natu expresses the notion of “(those) younger,” by means of a metaphor from physical magnitude: see n.24.

24. Bettini (above, n.20) 167–68 explains the meaning of the genealogical terms maiores (“ancestors”), aequales (“coevals”), and minores (“descendants”) according to the same metaphor of verticality (in this case, the vertical axis being divided into three temporal segments). These are perhaps better understood in terms of a metaphor of physical magnitude, however—older being “larger” and younger being “smaller”—that is strongly motivated by experience (for much of our lives, those older than us are typically also bigger). Indeed, aequalis probably should be construed as an image of uniformity of size or appearance (cf. Verg. Cir. 435, florentes aequali corpore nymphae) rather than one of “levelness” on a vertical scale. We should also note that minores does not normally denote one’s descendants, but one’s younger siblings (minores natu); usage of the word in this sense is poetic and limited to Verg. A. 1.532, Hor. Ep. 2.1.106, Ov. Tr. 4.1055, and a very few other examples, where contrast with maiores is specially highlighted.

25. In Fig. 2, past and future (rather than before and after as in Fig. 1) highlight that the position of ego corresponds to a “now” that divides the time line absolutely.

26. It is probably possible to explain expressions like a pueritia (e.g., Cic. Sul. 70) or recens ab illorum aetate fuit (N.D. 3.11) via this image as well. In such cases, times (“boyhood,” “their period”) are construed as regions or extents of the time line and being “away from” a certain time-region—that is, with this region canonically behind one—means for it to be in one’s past.

27. On the concept of “body set”, see esp. R. Birdwhistell, Kinesics and Context (Philadelphia 1970) 204.

28. I have explained the temporal meanings of the preposition de in terms of an image schema entirely coherent with the horizontal image of the time line: see Short (above, n.18) 395. The sense of “after” (for example, diem de die) emerges when two times are understood in relation to one another in the perspective of the subject-moving metaphor: one event-location that is perceived to be “away from” another (that is, at a point further along the path of time) will be understood as occurring “after” it. That of “during” (de vigilia, de nocte) emerges when two times are interpreted in the perspective of the time-moving image as marking the start- and end-points of a single durative circumstance, and conceptual focus is on the intervening spatial expanse, understood as the time over which something occurs. Similarly, a preposition like secundum will have the temporal meaning it does (see Pl. St. 3.1.45, ite hac secundum vos me) because a time that is “following behind” another is, according to the same image, the one occurring “immediately after.”

29. On this poem, see esp. D. Feeney, Caesar’s Calendar: Ancient Time and the Beginnings of History (Berkeley 2007) 213–14. On “cyclical” conceptions of time, see S. J. Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time (Cambridge 1987).

30. Lakoff and Johnson (above, n.9); Z. Kövecses, Metaphor: A Practical Introduction (Oxford 2002); Z. Kövecses, Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation (Cambridge 2005).

31. The commoditization of time was not nearly as developed in Latin speakers’ cultural system as it has become in English speakers’ since the Industrial Revolution, but see Lakoff and Johnson (above, n.9) 7–9.

32. The metaphor may also relate to the image of the Parcae who “unroll” time like a scroll; see M. Putnam, Virgil’s Epic Designs: Ekphrasis in the Aeneid (New Haven 1998) 134–38.

33. Liv. 3.10.8, ut idem in singulos annos orbis volveretur, “that the same ‘circle of events’ may revolve every year”; 3.36.3, insigne regium in orbem per omnes iret, “the regal badge passes to all ‘in a circle.’”

34. Hom. Od. 11.295, ἂψ περιτελλομένου ἔτεος; Il. 2.551, περιτελλομένων ἐνιαυτω̑ν; Soph. OT. 156; Ar. Av. 696; Hes. Op. 386, περιπλομένων ἐνιαυτω̑ν.

35. Lakoff and Johnson (above, n.9) 14–17; Lakoff (above, n.9) 275; T. Krzeszowski, “The Axiological Parameter in Preconceptual Image Schemata,” in R. Geiger and B. Rudzka-Ostyn, eds., Conceptualizations and Mental Processing in Language (Berlin 1993) 321.

36. above/below and front/back in fact appear to be concepts of fundamentally different character. “Above” and “below” are perceptual primitives whose understanding emerges developmentally before that of “in front of” and “in back of,” involving a cluster of subjective and intersubjective features. Infants as young as three months can categorize objects as above or below a line, while front and back are not acquired before perhaps nine months: P. Quinn and P. Schyns, “What Goes Up May Come Down: Perceptual Process and Knowledge Access in the Organization of Complex Visual Patterns by Young Infants,” Cog Science 27 (2003) 923–35; T. Regier, The Human Semantic Potential: Spatial Language and Constrained Connectionism (Cambridge, Mass., 1996); S. Levine and S. Carey, “Up Front: The Acquisition of a Concept and a Word,” J Child Lang 9 (1982) 645–57.

37. See J. McTaggart, “The Unreality of Time,” Mind 17 (1908) 457–74; N. Measor and M. Shorter, “Subjective and Objective Time,” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 60 (1986) 207–34.

38. The concept of “folk model” has been developed by D. Holland and N. Quinn, Cultural Models in Language and Thought(Cambridge 1987); R. D’Andrade, “Some Propositions about Relations Between Culture and Cognition,” in J. Stigler et al., eds., Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development (Cambridge 1990) 65–129; R. D’Andrade and C. Strauss, eds., Human Motives and Cultural Models (Cambridge 1992).

39. See M. Brdar et al., eds., Space and Time in Language (Frankfurt 2011); D. Casasanto, “Space for Thinking,” in V. Evans and P. Chilton, eds., Language, Cognition, and Space (London 2010) 453–78; K. Moore, “Space to Time Mappings and Temporal Concepts,” Cogn Linguistics 17 (2006) 199–244; G. Radden, “The Metaphor time as space across Languages,” in E. Górska and G. Radden, eds., Metonymy-Metaphor Collage (Warsaw 2006) 99–120; L. Boroditsky, “Metaphoric Structuring: Understanding Time through Spatial Metaphors,” Cognition 75 (2000) 1–28; H. Alverson, Semantics and Experience: Universal Metaphors of Time in English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Sesotho (Baltimore 1994).

40. English speakers will talk of times “coming up,” but this is because in English the canonical location of ego is “up” rather than “down” and also because what is visible is “up.” It is also possible to say that something “goes down” in history, but this is usually said of infamous deeds and probably relates to the metaphor “bad is down.”

41. E. Sweetser and B. Dancygier, Figurative Language (Cambridge 2014) 172. English speakers also speak of the “High Middle Ages” and the “High Renaissance,” but these designations have more to do with cultural achievements than with the relative temporality of the named period: that is, the “High Middle Ages” are so called because they were marked by particularly noteworthy social, political, and artistic developments.

42. L. Boroditsky et al., “Do English and Mandarin Speakers Think about Time Differently?” Cognition 118 (2011) 123–29.

43. See H. Clark, “Space, Time, Semantics and the Child,” in T. Moore, ed., Cognitive Development and the Acquisition of Language (New York 1973) 27–63; E. Traugott, “On the Expression of Spatio-Temporal Relations in Language,” in J. Greenberg et al., eds., Universals of Human Language (Stanford 1978) 369–400; M. Haspelmath, From Space to Time: Temporal Adverbials in the World’s Languages (Munich 1997); D. Gentner, “Spatial Metaphors in Temporal Reasoning,” in M. Gattis, ed., Spatial Schemas and Abstract Thought (Cambridge 2001) 203–22; V. Evans, The Structure of Time (Amsterdam 2004); G. Fauconnier and M. Turner, “Rethinking Metaphor,” in R. Gibbs, ed., The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought (Cambridge 2008) 55; W. Klein, “How Time is Encoded,” in W. Klein and P. Li, eds., The Expression of Time (Berlin 2010) 9–82. But see C. Sinha et al., “When Time is Not Space,” Lang Cogn 3 (2011) 137–69.

44. Bettini (above, n.20) 170.

45. Bettini (above, n.20) 179. For in-depth discussion of the sources related to the aristocratic stemma (mainly Sen. Ben. 3.28.2 and Plin. Nat. 35.6) and pompa funebris (esp. Plb. Hist. 6.53), see also Bettini (above, n.20) 169–81.

46. On the concept of a metaphor’s “main meaning focus,” see Z. Kövecses, Metaphor and Emotion: Language, Culture, and Body in Human Feeling (Cambridge 2003) 82–84.

47. Probably only the most politically distinguished members of the family were represented in the stemma and pompa funebris: see H. Flower, Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture (Oxford 1996). One of CW’s anonymous referees points out, as well, that under the principate the pompa funebris was significantly restructured so that the emperor, though most recent, came first in line (as also in the laudatio funebris). This suggests that that although the horizontal metaphor of time provides a kind of organizing image motivating the spatial unfolding of this practice, other considerations (including social ones) might interfere with and even invert the schema provided by the metaphor; see W. Kierdorf, Laudatio funebris: Interpretationen und Untersuchungen zur Entwicklung der rö mischen Leichenrede (Meisenheim 1980); E. Flaig, Ritualiserte Politik: Zeichen, Gesten und Herrschaft im Alten Rom (Göttingen 2004).

48. See J. Lucy, Grammatical Categories and Cognition: A Case Study of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis (Cambridge 1992).

49. Sanskrit agra- (both “front” and “before”) along with paśća- (“behind” and “after”) indicate the metaphor may be inherited. Horizontal metaphors of time in Greek have been studied by J. Palm, “Lag die Zukunft der Griechen hinter ihnen?” Ann Acad Regiae Sci Ups 13 (1969) 5–13; G. Dunkel, “πρόσσω καὶ ὀπίσσω,” ZVS 96 (1982) 66–87. From very different perspectives, see also I. De Jong and R. Nünlist eds., Time in Ancient Greek Literature (Leiden 2007); A. Purves, Space and Time in Ancient Greek Narrative (Cambridge 2010).

50. S. Luraghi, On the Meaning of Prepositions and Cases (Amsterdam 2003) 155–65, 245–55. Expressions like insequentibus diebus are common in Latin; προφοιτάω and ἀκολουθέω are not conventionally used in temporal senses in Greek, however.

51. In expressions like Pl. Cri. 110b, Θησέως οἱ ἄνω, “those before Theseus”; Dem. Cor. 310, ἐν τοι̑ς ἄνω χρόνοις; Plb. 1.7.2, οὐ πολλοι̑ς ἀνώτερον χρόνοις; cf. 4.2.7; 4.50.3; 5.6.1; 5.106.4; 21.11.2. During the Roman period, the usage becomes increasingly frequent, for example, in the works of Arrian, Aelius Aristides, and Aelian, probably under the influence of Latin.

52. Meanwhile, Greek speakers seem to privilege metaphors of quantity or size when speaking about temporal duration: πολύς “much” > “long” and μικρός or ὀλίγος “small” > “short” + χρόνος, images that are quite circumscribed in Latin (perhaps only in multa de nocte, ad multam noctem, and the like, but not inconsistently with a spatial interpretation, however: see Symmach. Ep. 2.51, haud multum processit horae). The metaphor is particularly prevalent in modern Greek: D. Casasanto, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Whorf? Cross-Linguistic Differences in Temporal Language and Thought,” Lang Learn 58 (2008) 70–72.

53. L. Foxhall, “Monumental Ambitions: The Significance of Posterity in Greece,” in N. Spencer, ed., Time, Tradition, and Society in Greek Archaeology (London 1995) 134; L. Foxhall, “Family Time: Temporality, Gender, and Materiality in Ancient Greece,” in J. Marincola et al., eds., Greek Notions of the Past in the Archaic and Classical Eras (Edinburgh 2012) 187–88.

54. C. Calame, “Spartan Genealogies: The Mythological Representation of a Spatial Organisation,” in J. Bremmer, ed., Interpretations of Greek Mythology (London 1987) 153–86; R. Thomas, Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens (Cambridge 1992) 155–95.

55. See N. Loraux, The Invention of Athens (Cambridge, Mass. 1986) 18–19, 39–40; N. Loraux, The Children of Athena (Princeton 1993) 3–22, 37–71; V. Rosivach, “Autochthony and the Athenians,” CQ n.s. 37 (1987) 294–305.

56. R. Núñez and E. Sweetser, “With the Future Behind Them,” Cog Sci 30 (2006) 401–50. As A. Ort (Catechizing Culture [New York 2004] 192) has argued, for Aymaraes it is the physical location of a family’s house, and the concentrical arrangement of family members inside it in, with the most senior members at the focal point, that best represents “a mnemonic of genealogical continuity.”

57. L. Boroditsky and A. Gaby, “Remembrances of Times East: Absolute Spatial Representations of Time in an Australian Aboriginal Community,” Psychol Sci 21 (2010) 1635–39.

58. As in Hor. Ep. 11.5–6, hic tertius December / ex quo destiti / Inachia fuere, silvis honorem decutit; Mart. 7.37.6, 95.1. In Roman art, the months are normally personified as single figures, “depicted in full activity and never as a symbol”; see D. Levi, “The Allegories of the Months in Classical Art,” Art Bull 23 (1941) 288.

59. B. R. Burchett, Janus in Roman Life and Cult: A Study in Roman Religions (Menasha, Wisc., 1912).

60. From psycholinguistic experiments studying how native speakers of English, Mandarin Chinese from mainland China, and Mandarin Chinese from Taiwan represent time spatially, B. K. Bergen and T. T. Chan Lau, (“Writing direction affects how people map space onto time,” Frontiers in Psychology, 3 [2012] 109) have argued that the linear axial configuration of a language’s time metaphors strongly correlates with the direction in which the language is predominantly written. In this light, Latin speakers’ indifference to the directionality of the figurative time line may relate to the apparent unimportance of writing direction in the earliest Latin inscriptions (e.g., right-to-left in the Vetusia inscription and Fibula Praenestina; left-to-right in the Tita and Vendia inscriptions).

61. See M. Tiverios, “Ο Φαέθων του Ζ. του Μειδία καιο Φαέθων του Ευριπίδη,” Logeion 1 (2011) 94–97.

62. The bier’s “bridging” of the vertical registers is interesting in this respect. As both J. Bodel (“Death on Display: Looking at Roman Funerals,” in B. Bergmann and C. Kondoleon, eds., The Art of Ancient Spectacle [New Haven 1999] 259–81) and K. Johanson (“A Walk with the Dead,” in B. Rawson, ed., A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds [Oxford 2011] 408–30) have emphasized, beliefs about the deceased’s “liminal” position between the living and the dead probably account for the bier’s sequentially, if not spatially, symmetrical placement (a nearly equal number of human figures precedes as follows it). Together with aesthetic conventions that establish a correspondence between a visual element’s relative size and its importance, this may explain why the bier so blatantly violates the vertical division of space: in this way, the deceased’s “mediating” function plays out along both temporal axes.

63. S. Irujo, “A Piece of Cake: Learning and Teaching Idioms,” ELT Journal 40 (1993) 217.

64. M. Halliday and R. Hasan, Language, Context, and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social-Semiotic Perspective (Oxford 1985).

65. See C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York 1973).

66. M. Agar, Language Shock (New York 1994) 96 explains: “The langua in languaculture is about discourse, not just about words and sentences. And the culture in languaculture is about meanings that include, but go well beyond, what the dictionary and the grammar offer.” The term is thus meant to capture the inextricability of language and culture, as opposed to “linguaculture,” which P. Friedrich (“Language, Ideology, and Political Economy,” Am Anthropol 91 [1989] 306) defines as “a domain of experience that fuses and intermingles the vocabulary, many semantic aspects of grammar, and the verbal aspect of culture.”

67. C. Renfrew and E. Zubrow, eds., The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology (Cambridge 1994).

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