Analogia ed etimologia nel primo libro dell’Institutio oratoria: polemiche ed exempla varroniani

Antonella Duso


In the first book of his Institutio oratoria (I, 4-8), one of Quintilian’s aims is to establish which grammar skills are needed by the prospective orator. The most important theoretical passages are §§ 1-45 of the sixth chapter. In this section, Quintilian lists four criteria of linguistic correctness: one of them, ratio, incorporates the criteria of analogy and etymology, which are, in turn, the two theoretical principles of Varro’s De lingua Latina. This article investigates how Quintilian summarizes Varronian arguments on the one hand, and on the other hand how he reuses Varro’s lexical examples, often contextualized in a dif­fer­­ent theoretical debate. This discrepancy between the theoretical context and practical exempla is particularly significant. It reflects the difficulty to manage a sophisticated linguistic theory and at the same time it suggests that, already in the age of Quintilian, linguistic-grammatical collections of quota­tions from Varro’s work probably began to circulate separately from the whole work.

Parole chiave

Varro; Quintilian; ancient grammar; exempla; tradition of grammatical texts.

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