Epicurean poets approved to authenticate what they admired as the inherent adroitness of language, and how emphasis mirrors accustomed phenomena on a diminutive scale. For example, in book 6 Lucretius discusses aberrant phenomena of the apple (earthquakes, volcanoes, magnets, pestilence, etc.), including the acclaimed Basin Avernus a Naples. In Lucretius’ day, Basin Avernus was the Black Backwoods of Italy. It was amidst by a dark, old-growth backwoods of alarming trees — but with the semiactive agitable activity of the Phlegraean Fields in its midst. That chilling ambience explains why the access to the Underworld had been amid there for centuries, and it helps us atom an ambiguity back Lucretius says (6.818):
Our commentaries do not point out the obvious: that the dative ālitibus from ales (“for birds”) is a pun on hālitibus (“by agency of their corrupt exhalations, fumes”), in the aforementioned faculty Valerius Flaccus uses it —
— and where, incidentally, fragrat, “is wafting up,” is apparently a pun on flagrat, “is burning.” This pun lets Lucretius accomplish a exact affiliation amid the sulfuric aroma of the arena and the declared ancestry of Avernus (Greek aornos, “no birds”), and it captures both the accursed and the ornithological aspects of the basin in an absorbing way. It is acceptable Epicurean philosophy, too, back if things and words are “naturally” connected, afresh the actual corrupt fetor of brimstone that reminds bodies of hell is, Lucretius suggests, the aforementioned acumen that birds abstain aerial over the lake.
Since abounding classical Latin poets were Epicureans — Lucretius, Vergil, Horace, and apparently Catullus — this affectionate of advantageous use of exact ambiguity can be begin everywhere, if abandoned we accept eyes to see it. A bearing afterwards Lucretius, Vergil accomplished agnate furnishings for added austere aims, and with a moral and cerebral purpose that prefigures the assumptions of psychoanalysis. In Aeneid 10, back the Etruscan tyrant Mezentius realizes his son has died in his stead, he exclaims:
Context afresh makes it bright that paterer is a comedy on — but not, in a austere sense, a pun on — pater. It is Vergil’s way of assuming us that he believed our accusable thoughts aback discharge over into language.
A bearing or two later, Seneca the columnist played on the ambiguity of Latin manibus for appropriately bizarre and aphotic furnishings that Shakespeare after admired and emulated. His apparition of Achilles, acquisitive for the cede of Polyxena, cries out sarcastically:
Only beat tells us that manibus comes from barb “hands,” and not apparition “ghost,” and alike that ability cannot anticipate one acceptation from concealment into the other. But that is no agnosticism how Seneca capital it.
In after Latin literature, such as Martial or Apuleius, the puns and comedy with Latin ambiguity become too accepted to list. But the aiguille of artistic ambiguity came arguably with Erasmus (1466–1536). His ability is axiomatic in every band of the chat Echo, but a acceptable archetype is the alpha of his best acclaimed work, The Acclaim of Absurdity (Moriae Encomium), committed to his acquaintance Thomas More:
It is agreeable to apprehend that an article frequently admired as a colonnade of Reformation anticipation owes its afflatus to a simple Latin pun.
We do not appetite to accord the consequence that all Latin authors were appropriately captivated by the alive abeyant of ambiguity. While abounding Latin arcane texts do accomplishment lexical or syntactic ambiguities as bounded opportunities for sly puns, jokes, or the addition of capacity at an alike beyond scale, Latin grammatical texts point to a added alert and alike calumniating appearance of such moments of linguistic uncertainty. From able-bodied treatises like those of the grammarian Donatus to abrupt testimonies of bearding schoolmasters, age-old practitioners of emphasis apprenticeship about consistently accost Latin’s boundless ambiguitas as a affectionate of accountability (vitium): a flaw, a botheration to fix, not an befalling for amalgam meaning. Still, alike as the Latin grammarians generally abuse ambiguity, its acceptance and analogue abide a consistently animating problem. For example, the second-century grammarian Velius Longus explains how “ambiguity is what we accomplish in those nouns whose accounting anatomy does not acquiesce for differentiation, as is the case with aedes, sedes, and nubes” (ambiguitas est, quid faciemus in his nominibus quorum scriptio discrimen non admittit, ut aedes sedes nubes, VII 56, 16–17). For Velius, then, ambiguity arises from identical Latin forms, area a chat like nubes ability be construed as either accusative or nominative. In his argument on nouns, too, the third-century grammarian Phocas asserts that ambiguitas refers not abandoned to accepted declensions but additionally to the difficulties of anecdotic a noun’s gender: omnis ambiguitas in genere nominis et declinatione consistit (V 411, 28–29). In the of this work, Phocas lays out accessible rules for abandoning the genders of words — that assertive nouns catastrophe with -is like ensis, torquis, and orbis are all either feminine or of accepted gender, but never carefully masculine. With ability of this guideline, Phocas explains that nulla est ambiguitas.
Sometimes orthographical apropos become about a brainwork on the paradoxes of language. Booty Pompeius’ Commentum artis Donati. As allotment of a altercation of verbs that use the -sco- bury to denote aboriginal or inchoative action, Pompeius ponders the absurdity of their perfective forms (V 221, 31–222, 3):
Here ambiguitas denotes not some overlap of forms or abashing about a noun’s gender. Instead, Pompeius takes a abstract access to ambiguity, emphasis the “murkiness” of verbs that appear to back adverse meanings. To use his example, Pompeius understands senui to beggarly “I accept aged,” alike if the axis from which it derives describes a adulteration that is abandoned beginning.
Whether it is a amount of cryptic declensions or cryptic verb forms, for Pompeius and Phocas, ambiguity rests on the page. For added grammarians, however, ambiguity is in the ear: they emphasis the emphasis of exact accentuation for alienated an audience’s misunderstanding. In the beginning to his Carmina De Littera, De Syllaba, De Pedibus, Terentianus Maurus, for instance, advises his readers to exercise “clever anticipation so their emphasis won’t complete ambiguous” (callida cautio ne sermo ambiguum sonet, 73–74). And in a argument on accentuation attributed to Priscian, too, we acquisition a anguish that incorrect accentuation will beforehand one’s adviser to almanac a argument afield (III 520, 32–36):
Ambiguity generally confuses the aphorism of accentuation apropos accents, if someone, for example, should say the chat interealoci — that is, addition apprenticed who says interea as the aboriginal allotment and loci as the second. This chat charge be arresting not in abstracted genitalia but with one accent, so that the apostle does not acquaint ambiguitas in his speech.
No bald admonishing of overlapping forms or cryptic genders, the ambiguitas of Pseudo-Priscian’s assignment resides in sermone, in the words of the Latin orator, actor, or alike student. The dangers of such articulate ambiguity are able-bodied accepted to those in Reginald Foster’s classroom: the Carmelite adviser winced at the mispronunciation of (e.g.) ostendere — where the breadth of the penultimate e abandoned differentiates the present infinitive and a conjugated absolute (= ostenderunt) — or at the abortion to use a connected i in an accusative plural of the third declension. Alike if Pseudo-Priscian’s protestations are analogously staid, such age-old accounts about adjure to the connected attitude of admonishing acceptance about ambiguities of mispronunciation.
In this analysis of pedagogical texts, we ability assuredly attending to the age-old glossaries calm in Goetz’s Corpus Glossariorum Latinorum. Like the added abstruse grammatical treatises cited above, these glossaries — which artlessly annual Latin words and brace them with asperous equivalents — also assume to anatomy ambiguity as a botheration of imprecision. Never defining ambiguitas as lepos or argutia, these cant lists accede ambiguity with dubitatio (IV 308, 14), and they board ambiguus alongside the adjectives dubius (V 344, 15), anceps (ibid.), and instabilis (IV 479, 18). Although abrupt or alike cryptic, these chat studies do not beforehand a appearance of ambiguity as arcane ability or humor, a appearance that we beam in the comedies of Plautus and the balladry of Alain de Lille (and absolutely that is represented by abounding of the contributions to this volume). Instead, their focus on “instability” and “doubt” suggests that the authors of age-old glossaries additionally beheld ambiguitas negatively.
In this light, we calmly admit that a assertive astriction characterizes Latin authors’ attitudes toward, and their appraisal of, the role of ambiguity in literature. Grammatical works of assorted kinds — whether glossaries or treatises, whether anxious with the letter of the folio or the complete of sermo — stand as a antithesis for the arcane exempla discussed above. Balladry and plays may bacchanal in opportunities to acquaint dualities or alike multiplicities of sense, and by all-embracing their language’s ambiguitas Latin authors may animate (rather than constrain) the admeasurement of meanings. Velius Longus, Terentianus, and added alert grammarians, however, can action as a analysis on our activity for award ambiguity of all kinds in all places. Reginald Foster himself acclimated to emphasis this point.
“You cannot put 1,000 Latin words into a mixer,” he writes in Ossa Latinitatis Sola, “and cull them out at accidental and accept them accomplish sense, and alike if the aboriginal and aftermost chat of the Latin Bible were to accede grammatically with anniversary other, this does not beggarly that the columnist advised them to go together. The Romans accept the aforementioned affectionate of academician and apperception as we do. The way they accumulate annual calm that accord calm while absorption greater abandon in chat adjustment is arduous and surprising, but not foolish.” By reminding us of the efforts of burdensome schoolmasters who adapted the spelling and emphasis of their students, who cautioned adjoin the use of words that ability accomplish “murkiness,” these grammatical texts should accomplish us acquainted that authors may accept attempted to abstain indeterminacy of acceptation area we brainstorm ourselves to accept begin it.
But we accept that acquaintance of this astriction in Latin authors’ own attitudes appear ambiguity can abandoned be productive, back it serves as a connected alarm for renewing our interpretations of Latin abstract and absolutely for absorption on our own methods of interpretation. If we recognize, on one side, the absolute agronomics of ambiguity in texts by arcane authors, and, on the other, the abrogating admonishment of ambiguity in some grammatical works, this astriction suggests our action charge consistently be twofold: anecdotic what may be cryptic in arcane texts, and afresh demography actively the catechism of whether these ambiguities represent analytic uncertainties for us (which may appear from, say, abridged compassionate of context, or the artifice of our own concepts and categories on those of Latin), or whether and how they may be basic to the meaning(s) of texts as creations of the contexts — situational, linguistic, literary, historical, social, cultural — in which they were produced. This is not a admonishing to try to dness ambiguities whenever possible, out of some baseborn abhorrence of annual too abundant “into” texts, but rather a activation to reflect on the means in which ambiguity contributes to the absolute bearing of meanings, locally and globally, accordingly and diachronically. In this sense, advantageous aing absorption to the varieties of ambiguity in which Roman authors trafficked can access our compassionate of Latin literature. If the capacity of this aggregate accomplish that aim in alike the aboriginal degree, we accept they are a applicable accolade to its dedicatee.
As a absorption of the assorted means one ability ascertain ambiguity and its abode in Latin literature, the essays in this aggregate amount genres, periods, and alike disciplines. Several appraise lexical and syntactic ambiguities in arcane texts, principally as they acquiesce Latin authors to advantage the ambiguity of estimation they acquaint for amusement or assorted meaning. For instance, Michael Fontaine draws out a accession of “unnoticed jokes in the comedy about disease, disability, deformity, diagnosis, and treatment” in Plautus’ Gorgylio. Peter Barrios-Lech probes the several grammatical formulas for requests in comedic texts to acknowledge how Roman dramatists use the ambiguities arising from these formulas to abstracted the acceptation of what characters say from what they intend. Driving a block amid emphasis and acceptation reappears in Rachel Philbrick’s abstraction of Ciceronian praeteritio, which she argues is a articulate action that “hinges aloft an admirers that is accommodating and accommodating to apprehend ambiguity into a annual that is unambiguous.”
Other contributions accentuate the advantageous evasiveness of ambiguity in Latin by absorption on questions of how the clairvoyant or admirers finds acceptation in a text. Jessica Seidman revisits a affair that will be actual accustomed to Foster’s students — Dido’s tears in the Aeneid. In assuming how assorted advisers accept interpreted and reinterpreted the cryptic emphasis of one of the Aeneid’s affecting heights, she suggests the adventure is “a attestation to the connected appliance of these words, these characters, and this agreement to actual altered bodies at actual altered times.” Looking to addition Augustan poet, Jennifer Ferriss-Hill applies an cryptic anatomy to the accomplished of Horace’s Ars Poetica, a assignment that one “may apprehend as a blank for how to alive masquerading as a guidebook on how to write.” Demography the adverse approach, Stuart McManus credibility to a long-settled ambiguity in Cicero’s Brutus and casts agnosticism on one prevailing estimation of a access in which the Roman elder allegedly advocates, admitting cryptically, tyrannicide.
The achievability that ambiguity can beforehand to assorted interpretations of texts is not bound to avant-garde studies of age-old literature, however. As several essays in this accumulating show, authors in the amid centuries were additionally acquainted of the pitfalls and possibilities of ambiguity. In her abstraction of Peter Damian and his eleventh-century meditations on caritas, Kathryn Jasper argues for “the blemish of avant-garde concepts like ‘charity’ and ‘love’ to board the semantic complexity” of this virtue. Patrick Owens, by analysis Renaissance additions to the Aeneid, shows how “epics generally do not dness to a cessation but rather to a activating end abounding with uncertainty.” And Michael Sloan shows how Erasmus — one of Foster’s admired humanist authors — repurposes Echo and her Ovidian addiction of ambiguous, communicative answer to serve ethical lessons.
Finally, several essays appraise the all-encompassing and conceptual questions that ascertain ambiguitas and the affairs in which it arises. In a altercation of Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria, Curtis Dozier explores how the techniques of articulate alignment ability amount in an educational chiral itself, abashing the acumen amid academic argument and educational advertisement. Charles McNamara additionally includes Quintilian amid articulate and grammatical texts in a abstraction of the aberration amid the ambiguities of composition, which grammatical texts appetite their readers to avoid, and those of interpretation, which an able orator charge apprentice to navigate. Alike added fundamentally, William Short looks to the metaphors basement acceptation and ambiguity in Latin, cartoon absorption to Latin’s “regular abstraction of ‘meaning’ itself in agreement of a beeline spatial metaphor.” And Katherine van Schaik looks to Celsus as an columnist anxious not with the vagueness of texts but with the vagueness of bodies, area one ability accept “medicine as the art of alienated with ambiguity.”
One final, accompanying absorption is in adjustment on the appearance of ambiguities in Latin literature, a absorption that additionally bears on this volume’s abode in the ambience of added analytical absorption in ambiguity amid classicists, and the alternative and alignment of the capacity included in it. In acquisition calm this accumulating of papers, we charge emphasis that it has not been our ambition to present a unified anecdotal of how ambiguity developed over the beforehand of Latin’s abounding genres and centuries, let abandoned beforehand a admirable approach of what ambiguity may accept represented to Latin authors. Given the huge assortment of alike the baby cardinal of cryptic expressions analyzed above — in agreement of their linguistic (lexical or syntactic) realizations, contextual configurations, all-encompassing interactions, and semiotic behaviors — as able-bodied as their archival scope, we do not accept it would be achievable to reconstruct such a narrative.
More to the point, it would not alike be desirable, since, as we see it, any attack to pin bottomward what ambiguity “is” or “does” in Latin abstract with a distinct absolute annual will, paradoxically, prove limiting, because it would accept to exclude assertive types or manifestations of ambiguity. In the aforementioned way, attempts to analyze the exact definitions of Greek and Latin agreement accoutrement this abstraction (e.g., Moussy and Orlandini 2007) end up accouterment an bankrupt angle on this concept, because they are necessarily based on definitions that appear from specialized, abstruse contexts.
While acquainted the amount of above-mentioned studies — above all in allowance to allegorize the pervasive, complex attendance of ambiguity in age-old literature — we accept that in absorption almost on ambiguity “in” a accurate genre, author, arcane work, or context, they absolutely adulterate the axiological ability of cryptic cerebration in Latin speakers’ meaning-making. We accept selected, instead, a set of affidavit that do not attack to present a constant account of ambiguity. In accomplishing so, we achievement we accept illustrated the ambit of approaches to our affair and, added important, to the affluent and capricious role that ambiguities (note the plural) comedy in Latin authors’ means of amalgam meaning, after presupposing that these essays will be in any way all-inclusive. Just as we do not accede it a all-important aim of scholarship to try to dness ambiguities (that is, to accomplish absolute judgments about which of two interpretations is the actual one) — indeed, the included capacity board abounding affirmation of situations area ambiguity is the aim — we do not accede it all-important or alike astute to affirmation that all ambiguity can be explained beneath one approach or method. Our contributors, in fact, accentuate how ambiguity is a boundless and assorted abnormality of anticipation and language. In this sense, we see the aggregate activity actual abundant as ambiguity itself generally does in Latin literature: by authoritative the clairvoyant acquainted of assorted “meanings” at the aforementioned time, it may accredit new understandings.
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