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Greek and Latin. Expressions of Meaning

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Andreas T. Zanker

Chapter 1: The Polysemy of Expressions of Meaning

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  • 1 LSJ s.v. “λεξιθηρέω”; cf. Gellius, Noctes Atticae 2.9.4-5: “nimis minute ac prope etiam subfrigide (...)

“λεξιθηρεῖν”: “to hunt after words”.1

1Expressions of meaning have been applied to different kinds of things in a number of languages spanning the western literary tradition. Before moving on to a more detailed study of the terminology, it will perhaps be helpful to give some concrete examples of the phenomenon. I would like to introduce the topic of the polysemy of the classical vocabulary of meaning by focusing on the Latin expression “sibi uelle” and on how Roman authors exploited its ambiguities for the purposes of humor (I and II). I shall then move on to a discussion of a later Latin phrase familiar from the pages of the Vergilian commentator Servius, “hoc uult dicere”, and argue that the assumptions we have about expressions of meaning may lead us to adopt a particular interpretation of it (III and IV). In the final section (V), I shall consider the role of quotation marks and their ancient equivalents as they relate to the polysemy of expressions of meaning. This chapter will provide us with a platform from which to investigate the terminology in greater depth and ultimately to proceed to a discussion of why it is important for modern literary critics to pay attention to how they use verbs such as “to mean”.

I. “sibi uelle” (1)

2First, let us turn to Republican literature. The following two-line epigram by C. Licinius Calvus has received much attention of late:

  • 2 On this epigram, see in particular Jocelyn (1996), 243-254; cf. Lausberg (1982), 393-394; Courtney (...)

1. Magnus, quem metuunt omnes, digito caput uno
scalpit; quid credas hunc sibi uelle? uirum (Calvus, fr. 18 Courtney).2

3It is usually translated in away such as the following:

  • 3 Cf. Williams (1999), 216: “He scratches his head with one finger. What would you think he wants?

“Pompey the Great, whom everyone fears, scratches his head with one finger; what do you think he wants? A man”.3

  • 4 Jocelyn (1996) is also troubled, expressing doubt as to whether we possess the entire epigram; his (...)
  • 5 OLD s.v. “uolo” 2: “To desire to have, want (a particular thing or person)... w. dat. of advantage(...)

4Translated thus, however, the humor of the epigram is perhaps not entirely obvious,4 and, while explaining jokes has the inevitable effect of making them less amusing, it may be useful to go over the grammar: Calvus is here exploiting the expectations set up by “sibi uelle”. The expression “sibi uelle” can indeed mean “to want something for oneself” with the “sibi” serving as a dative of advantage:5

2. Caesar me sibi uult esse legatum.

“Caesar wants to have me as a legate” (Cicero, ad Atticum 2.19.5).

  • 6 OLD s.v. “uolo” 17: “To want to be understood (as its meaning), imply, signify, mean… (w. sibi)”.

5The expression could also, however, serve as an expression of meaning.6 To give a brief example: when, in Terence’s Phormio, Geta emerges from Demipho’s house, he begins thanking the goddess Fortune in an animated fashion (“O Fortuna, o Fors Fortuna…”); as they watch him, Antipho puts the question to Phormio:

3. quidnam hic sibi uolt?

“What on earth does he mean?” (Terence, Phormio 843 Barsby).

6Here, the emphasis is on what Geta means by his expression – just three lines later Antipho asks the same question of Phormio in a different way:

4. num tu intellegis quid hic narret?

“Do you understand what he’s saying?” (Terence, Phormio 846 Barsby).

  • 7 See, for instance, Cicero, De Finibus 4.57: “quid igitur uoluit sibi, qui illa mutauerit?” (“what (...)

7Other examples further substantiate this usage.7 The phrase “sibi uelle” can therefore be translated as “to mean” in the context of a question beginning with “quid”. To return to the scenario that Calvus presents: Pompey scratches his head with one finger. We then have the phrase “quid credas hunc sibi uelle?”, where the “sibi uelle” can either be translated as an expression of meaning or an expression of desiring. Because Pompey is performing an action that might be taken as a signal (scratching his head), it is perfectly possible to interpret the first part of the epigram in the following way:

5. “Pompey the Great, whom everyone fears, scratches his head with one finger; what do you think he means [by scratching his head with one finger]?”.

8That is to say, it could be inferred that the speaker is inquiring as to what Pompey is attempting to communicate. Of course, this interpretation of “sibi uelle” is utterly deflated by the single word that follows, “uirum”, whereby we find out that Pompey is not attempting to communicate anything by the act of scratching his head: he simply wants (“uelle”) a man for himself (dative of advantage), a desire apparently given away by his gesture. It is this surprise, which would have been particularly acute in the context of oral recitation, that gives the epigram its particular effect (fulmen in clausula).

  • 8 Cf. Lausberg (1982), 393: “Magnus, den alle fürchten, kratzt sich mit einem Finger den Kopf. Was w (...)

9In the Latin, of course, only the one term is used – “sibi uelle” – for both “to mean” and “to want for oneself”; the difference is clear in English, but a native Latin speaker would not have drawn strong distinctions here. The key thing to note, however, is what one expects will follow as an answer to Calvus’ question, “quid credas hunc sibi uelle?”: for “sibi uelle” in the sense of “to mean”, we would expect a statement elucidating what Pompey means by scratching his head. We are, however, merely presented with a noun – “uirum” – and this can only cohere with the interpretation “to want for oneself”: “he means a man” would not make sense in this context.8

II. “sibi uelle” (2)

  • 9 Regarding “signify”, see the discussion of “σηµαίνειν”, “significare”, “signifier”, “signify”, and (...)
  • 10 Cf. OLD s.v. “uolo” 17.

10There is a second aspect of the expression that I would like to discuss (and this will be especially important for what follows): “sibi uelle” could be used not only of human beings in order to describe their intentions, but also of what texts and expressions signify.9 For the former we have the example found in excerpt 3 above, together with the pun in excerpt 1; for the latter we might cite instances such as the following:10

6. quid uolt sibi, Syre, haec oratio?

“What does that remark mean, Syrus?” (Terence, Heauton Timorumenos 615).

7. quid tamen ista uelit sibi fabula, si licet, ede.

“But what does that story mean? Tell me, if possible” (Horace, Sermones 2.5.61).

  • 11 For a usage with reference to words, cf. “... quid sibi lex aut quid uerba ista uellent” (“...what (...)
  • 12 Cf. “quid ergo illa sibi uolt pars altera orationis, qua Romanos amecultos ait...?” (“what, then, (...)

11In these two examples “sibi uelle” can be translated as “to mean” in the sense of “to signify”: neither the remark nor the story mean things in the way that Phormio or Pompey mean things – remarks and stories do not have cognitive agency or mental states – but the expression “sibi uelle” can nevertheless be applied to them as a synonym for a verb like “significare”.11 This is an informal use of “sibi uelle”, and we generally see it in colloquial writing, although it can be found in a number of different genres.12

  • 13 See Barsby (1999), 89; for an interpretation concerning the “machismo” of the Eunuchus, see Gowers (...)

12The fact that the phrase “sibi uelle” could be used of texts as well as people could be exploited for effect in Latin, whereby the expression’s metaphorical possibilities spring to the fore; here is an example from the end of the prologue to Terence’s play, The Eunuch, where the poet is addressing his audience:13

8. date operam, cum silentio animum attendite,
ut pernoscatis quid sibi Eunuchus uelit.

“Pay attention and listen carefully in silence, so that you might understand what The Eunuchmeans” (Terence, Eunuchus prologue 44-45 Barsby).

13Terence was aware of the fact that the phrase could be used in these two different ways, as the quotations from the Phormio (excerpt 3) and the Heauton Timorumenos (excerpt 6) demonstrate. Because the name of the play in this last excerpt (8) is a word (“eunuch”) that usually denotes a human being with intentions, and because the phrase “sibi uelle” can be used either of human beings or texts, Terence can exploit the different ways in which the expression could be used and suggest that the text of his play is itself a human being: this play on words is obviously a fitting punch-line for the end of the prologue. It is a very early instance of an exploitation of the two different ways in which “sibi uelle” could be used, and illustrates a readiness to realize the metaphorical possibilities of expressions of meaning in one of the earliest strata of literary Latin.

14The ambiguity of Terence’s eunuch is, however, further augmented by the fact that in classical Latin it is impossible to determine, by means of either punctuation or italicization, that it is in fact to the title of the play that Terence is referring at the end of his prologue and not to an individual (an actual eunuch). The ambiguity would have been even more pronounced when the prologue was recited to the audience, since even had Terence been able to use quotation marks they would have been lost in oral recitation. The end of the prologue to the Eunuchus, then, can additionally be interpreted along the lines of:

8b. “Pay attention and listen carefully in silence, so that you might understand what the eunuch wants [for himself]” (Terence, Eunuchus prologue 45).

15This interpretation of the sentence finds substantiation in the course of the play, when one of the young protagonists, Chaerea, disguises himself as a eunuch in order to visit the object of his affection, Pamphila. He succeeds, taking advantage of the girl without being noticed. Terence’s closing words in the prologue therefore potentially look forward to what is to follow, when the audience will find out what the fake eunuch, Chaerea, actually wants (“sibi uelit”) – the joke being, of course, that he wants to have sexual intercourse with Pamphila, which is not what one would expect of a eunuch. Those who already knew the plot of the play, either from Menander’s original Eunouchos or from prior acquaintance with Terence’s version, would have been able to appreciate this point. Terence ends the prologue of the Eunuchus on an ambiguous note, and the audience is left wondering, quite apart from considerations about the intentions of the Eunuchus/eunuch, what “sibi uelit” itself might mean.

III. The Polysemy of Expressions of Meaning

  • 14 Cf. Buck (1949), 1231-1233.
  • 15 For different lists from the following one, see Lyons (1977), 1.1-2; Nozick (1981), 574-575; Searl (...)
  • 16 OED s.v. “mean (v)” I.1.b: “With infinitive as object: to intend or be determined to do something”
  • 17 OED s.v. “mean (v)” II.7: “trans. With modifying word or phrase: to be important to a person to th (...)
  • 18 OED s.v. “mean (v)” II.7: “Of a thing, word, or statement: to have as signification; to signify, i (...)

16The polysemy of “sibi uelle” discussed in the previous section (II) is in fact a common one among the western European languages.14 The English verb “to mean” can certainly mean a number of things, and it is partly on account of this that questions such as “what is the meaning of life?” are tough nuts to crack.15 The verb may refer, for example, to the intentions of an individual in performing an action (“Henry meant to hit the ball”),16 to what someone/something means to us emotionally (“beer means a lot to me”),17 or to what words mean in terms of other words (“‘Hoffnung’ means ‘hope’”).18 When it comes to the interpretation of written texts, there are certain applications of “to mean” that particularly concern us, and these correspond broadly with what we noted in the case of “sibi uelle”. One application, for example, is found in expressions such as:

9. “[When] Horace [wrote ‘damnosa quid non imminuit dies?’ he] meant ‘what does baleful time not diminish?’”.

  • 19 OED s.v. “mean (v)” II.6.a: “trans. To intend to indicate (a certain object) or to convey (a certa (...)

17Here we have an allusion to the intentions of an author: Horace is said to have meant something by a phrase.19 The subject of the verb “to mean” is a human being and the word introduces a statement about what he intended (I-meaning). We also, however, frequently come across phrases such as the following:

10. “Horace’s phrase means ‘what does the baleful day not diminish?’”.

11. “What does Odes 3.6 mean?”.

18These last sentences, number 10appealing to the literal meaning of the line, 11 to any number of things, appear to take a form similar to the one that preceded them (9), but the key difference is that here the Latin text is the subject of the verb “to mean” rather than a human being (S-meaning).

19The ambiguity is found in other modern languages as well. It is, for example, reflected in the German verb “meinen”, cognate with the English verb “to mean”. When learning German we are generally taught that “meinen” refers to what a speaker or author means:

12. “Wie meinen Sie das?”.

“How do you mean?”.

13. “Ich meine den Stuhl hier”.

“I mean this stool here”.

  • 20 DWB s.v. “meinen” 2: “vor alters her auch von worten, einen angegebenen sinn haben, etwas bedeuten (...)

20This is not a hard-and-fast rule, however, as the word “meinen” can be also used of inanimate objects, including texts:20

14. “Welch feierlicher Ton! Ich fasse nicht, was diese Reden meinen, doch sie entsetzen mich”.

“What a solemn tone! I don't know what these declarations mean, but they terrify me” (Schiller, Don Carlos 4.21).

15. “Haben Sie eine Ahnung, was der Text meint?”.

“Do you have an idea of what the text means?”.

  • 21 Cf. Meinecke & Schwerdt (2001), 21: “Der Terminus indogermanischmeint Sprachen, deren Verbreitungs (...)

21Number 14 is both poetic and antiquated, but sentences similar to 15 are common enough in both conversation and scholarship today.21 The modern German verb “meinen” can therefore be used to refer to the meanings of words and texts as well as to that of an individual, just like its English relative.

22To turn to the Romance tradition, the French expression “vouloir dire” also means “to mean”, and can be used of what human beings intend as well as what words, events, and things signify:

16. “Nietzsche n’a peut-être rien voulu dire…”.

  • 22 Derrida (1979), 125; cf. “Je veux dire qu’il a raison” (“I mean that he’s right”). GR s.v. “dire” (...)

“Nietzsche himself, perhaps, didn’t mean anything [by the phrase ‘I’ve forgotten my umbrella’]”.22

17. “Chacun comprend ce que veut dire ‘j’ai oublié mon parapluie’”.

  • 23 Derrida (1979), 128; cf. “Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire?” (“What does that mean?”). GR s.v. “dire” (...)

“Everyone understands what ‘I’ve forgotten my umbrella’ means”.23

  • 24 Italian: “che cosa vuoi dire con questo?” (“what do you mean by this?”); “che cosa vuol dire quest (...)

23The same general pattern is refracted across the other Romance languages (Italian: “volere dire”; Portuguese: “querer dizer”; Spanish: “querer decir”).24 The expression “vouloir dire” can thus be used of both authors and texts, just like the Latin “sibi uelle”, the English “to mean”, and the German “meinen”. In fact, the Romance expressions combine two verbs whose usual applications (wishing and speaking) would appear to be alien to the abilities of inanimate objects.

  • 25 LSJ s.v. “βούλοµαι” III.1: “mean”. Compare Plato, Protagoras 343d: “εἰ βουλόµενος λέγειν ὅτι...” ( (...)

24Something similar occurs in ancient Greek with the verb “βούλεσθαι” (generally, “to will”, “to wish”, “to desire”), which can serve as a verb of meaning or intent. Here is an excerpt from Plato, where it is used of a human agent (I-meaning):25

18. δεῖ γὰρ διελθεῖν ἡµᾶς καὶ τοὺς ἐναντίους λόγους ὧν ὅδε εἶπεν, οἳ δικαιοσύνην µὲν ἐπαινοῦσιν, ἀδικίαν δὲ ψέγουσιν, ἵν᾽ ᾖ σαφέστερον ὅ µοι δοκεῖ βούλεσθαι Γλαύκων.

“For it is necessary for us to go through the arguments that are contrary to the ones he mentioned, those which praise justice and censure injustice, so that what Glaucon appears to me to mean might become clearer” (Plato, Republic 362e).

25The word “βούλεσθαι” can, however, be used of texts, stories, and words as well; the following example is from the Theaetetus:

19. τί δὴ οὖν ἡµῖν βούλεται οὗτος ὁ µῦθος, ὦ Θεαίτητε, πρὸς τὰ πρότερα;

“What then does this tale mean for us, Theaetetus, regarding what was said before?” (Plato, Theaetetus 156c).

  • 26 For further examples, see Chapter 2.I.
  • 27 LSJ s.v. “λέγω” III.9: “wish to say, mean”; cf. “οὔτοι γυναῖκας ἀλλὰ Γοργόνας λέγω” (“no – I do no (...)

26It is clear that the tale is not literally meaning (or wishing) something in the same way that an individual means something intentionally, but once again the same verb is used of people, texts, and words, albeit indifferent ways.26 A slightly different example might be found in the Greek verb “λέγειν”, which can be used of people when they mean something by the act of speaking, as in the following instance from the Cratylus:27

20. ... καὶ ἐµοῦ ἐρωτῶντος καὶ προθυµουµένου εἰδέναι ὅτι ποτὲ λέγει

“...and with me asking him and exerting myself to find out what he means…” (Plato, Cratylus 384a).

  • 28 This is, however, a rare usage; see Chapter 2.III for discussion.

27The verb “λέγειν” can, however, occasionally also be used of what words mean (literally, say):28

21. συµπορεύεσθαι γὰρ λέγει τὴν ψυχὴν τοῖς πράγµασι τὸ “συνιέναι”.

“For ‘συνιέναι’ means that the soul goes with things” (Plato, Cratylus 412b).

28Other Greek verbs of meaning seem also to fit our pattern, in that they are generally used of human beings with intentional states but can also be used of things like words, expressions, writing tablets, and oracles. The following examples involve verbs whose basic meanings are “to wish” (“θέλειν”), and “to think” (“νοεῖν”):

22. …τὸ θέλει τὸ ἔπος εἶπαι...

  • 29 The text is that of Hude, “εἶπαι” here being a correction for the transmitted “εἶναι” (which Rosén (...)

“…what the expression means…” (Herodotus, Histories 6.37.2).29

23. τί ἄν ποτε νοοῖ τὸ ὄνοµα οἱ “δαίµονες”;

  • 30 See Chapter 2 for further examples. Compare the excerpt from the Euthydemus cited in the Introduct (...)

“What then might the name ‘spirits’ really mean?” (Plato, Cratylus 397e).30

  • 31 For example, in modern Greek we find expressions like “τό νόηµα του κειµένου” (“the meaning of the (...)

29Some of these expressions are echoed in modern Greek.31 The use of the same verbs and expressions of meaning for both what human beings mean (or intend) and what texts and words mean (or signify) is therefore exemplified throughout the western literary tradition: if we look back to see how others have used verbs similar to our own, we will see the same polysemy reflected. Indeed, as noted in the Introduction, it seems to be the case that each and every active verb that we use in English to describe what texts do can also be used of human beings; as we shall see, this statement appears to be true of the ancient languages as well.

IV. “hoc uult dicere...

  • 32 The text is that of Thilo & Hagen. My investigation here is limited to Servius’ usage (I do not in (...)

30I would now like to suggest that our own familiarity as modern critics with expressions of meaning that can be used as synonyms for both “to intend” and “to signify”, such as those covered in sections II and III, can affect how we interpret similar expressions in ancient texts. Let us turn to a phrase that involves a Latin expression of meaning, “hoc uult dicere”, as it is found in the Vergilian commentary of Servius.32 My question is: what does “hoc uult dicere” actually mean in Servius’ commentary? In a certain sense its precise meaning does not matter – the expression clearly serves as an “=” telling the reader that what follows is the equivalent of what precedes it – yet it would be somewhat embarrassing, given the nature of the phrase, if we were unable to determine how the grammar works. Here is a compact example from Servius:

24. at boreae de parte t. c. f. et c. e. z. t. d. hoc uult dicere: ubique ingentes efficit pluuias ab istis uentis mota tempestas.

hoc uult dicere: wherever a storm, set in motion by these winds, causes heavy rains” (Servius on Georgics 1.370).

31There are three different ways in which we might attempt to construe the phrase “hoc uult dicere”:

  1. “This (hoc) means:”
  2. “He means this (hoc):”
  3. “By this (hōc) he means:”
  • 33 OLD s.v. “hoc” 10c; cf. Servius on Aeneid 1.79. For a non-Servian usage: “hoc est dicere” (“this i (...)

32(a) This interpretation finds support in the phrase “hoc est”,33 frequently used in ancient literary exegesis, which serves much the same purpose as “hoc uult dicere” and takes “hoc” as its subject. We might further expect that since the phrase “sibi uelle” can be used of texts as well as people, as we have seen, something similar might be the case for “hoc uult dicere”. Third, and perhaps most importantly, this interpretation is in keeping with contemporary expressions such as the French phrase “vouloir dire” (as well as the English “to mean”), particularly in the case of the expression “ça veut dire” (“that means”), and is therefore attractive for the modern reader. I suspect that this is the natural reading for many native speakers of English (it was certainly the way that I first interpreted the phrase).

33One particular instance suggests that we exercise caution, however: in book 11 of the Aeneid, Camilla addresses Turnus and states that she will face Aeneas’ army. Servius has this to say about the opening words of her speech:

25. sui merito si qua est fiducia forti si unusquisque fortis habet aliquam confidentiam ex conscientia fortitudinis suae, et ego audere non dubito. “forti” autem bene dixit: nam “fortis” communis est generis. haec autem hoc uult dicere, non sexum considerandum esse, sed robur.

“‘If any brave man has a certain degree of confidence on account of his knowledge of his bravery, then I too do not hesitate to dare’. But he has said ‘forti’ astutely: for ‘fortis’ is common to both genders. She, however, means this: that it is not her gender that should be considered, but rather her bravery” (Servius on Aeneid 11.502).

  • 34 It would be strange indeed if the proper translation of the underlined words were “this (hoc) mean (...)
  • 35 It is possible, for example, that “this means” is the default setting, and that a shift takes plac (...)

34The phrase underlined has “haec” (Camilla) as the subject of “uult” (“haec” being explicit here because the subject has changed).34 The phrase is otherwise precisely the same as in the other examples (save for the “autem”). We might therefore surmise that the poet Vergil is the subject of “uult” in the other examples, and that “hoc” serves either as a direct object or as an ablative of means. If we give weight to excerpt 25, the phrase “hoc uult dicere” probably does not mean “this means” in Servius, although we must not, of course, rule out the possibility that the same sequence of words is being used in two different ways.35

  • 36 See already Plautus, Amphitruo 383-384 De Melo: “Mer: Amphitruonis te esse aiebas Sosiam. Sos: Pec (...)
  • 37 OLD s.v. “hoc” 12.
  • 38 This usage is backed up by other examples, where the name of the author is supplied as the subject (...)

35(b) This, as it turns out, appears to be a better way to interpret the phrase, in light of the Servian passage quoted above.36 Beyond this, we might note that “hoc” can be used to point to a statement that is to follow, even when “hoc” is placed at the opening of the clause for emphasis.37 We might further note that the simple phrase “hoc dicit” (without the “uelle”), where the verb takes the poet as the subject and “hoc” as the direct object, is itself well attested in certain unambiguous situations in Servius:38

26. Septimapost decimam felix aut septimam decimam dicit, aut hoc dicit: felix quidem est septima, sed felicior decima, ut primum locum decimae relinquat.

“He either means the seventeenth, or he means this: that the seventh day is indeed auspicious but the tenth is even more so – with the result that he leaves the first spot for the tenth” (Servius on Georgics 1.284).

27. actialitora ut supra diximus, propter Augustum hoc dicit, qui illic ludos statuit agonales.

“As we mentioned above, he says this on account of Augustus, who inaugurated agonal games there” (Servius on Aeneid 3.280).

36The bare word “dicit”, moreover, could be used after a lemma in order to refer to what Vergil means, as in the following example (where the poet Vergil is unambiguously the subject of “dicit”):

28. tyrias arcesCarthaginem dicit, quam Tyrii condiderunt.

  • 39 Cf. “NecposseItalia detraxit more suo praepositionem prouinciae; non enim dixit ‘de Italia’, sed ‘ (...)

He means Carthage, which the Tyrians founded” (Servius on Aeneid 1.20).39

  • 40 For other instances of “uult dicere” with Vergil marked as the subject, see Servius on Aeneid 5.38 (...)

37Perhaps most importantly, Servius himself used the phrase “uoluit dicere” (without the “hoc”) with authors marked as its subject, as in the following example:40

29. nec sum adeo informis uerecunde suam commemorat pulchritudinem: sic Cicero in Caeliana <3, 6> “ut eum paeniteat non deformem esse natum”, nam “pulcherrimum” uoluit dicere.

“He mentions his beauty with great modesty: in the same manner, Cicero said in the Pro Caelio (3.6) ‘...so that he might regret that he was born not unhandsome’, for he meant ‘most handsome’” (Servius on Georgics 2.25).

38Finally, we might consider Servius’ explicit statement in his Praefatio concerning the tasks of the commentator; among these was the elucidation of the “scribentis intentio” (“the intention of the author” Servius, Praefatio). Further on in the preface, the commentator describes what the intention of the author consists in:

30. intentio Vergilii haec est, Homerum imitari et Augustum laudare aparentibus...

“The intention of Vergil is this: to imitate Homer and to praise Augustus by means of his ancestry” (Servius, Praefatio).

  • 41 This principle was maintained within the body of the commentary itself, for example at the crucial (...)

39Apparently, then, Servius held determining the intention of the poet to be an important function of a commentator.41 We might expect Servius’ general interest in the intentio auctoris also to be reflected in the usage of “hoc uult dicere”.

  • 42 Compare, however, Servius Auctus on Aeneid 2.158.

40(c) The final possibility is certainly good Latin, but it must be said that it is a less plausible interpretation of the grammar of the phrase “hoc uult dicere” than (b), given the examples already cited.42

41Our (possible) intuitions about the first interpretative option would appear to be wrong in the case of Servius; as mentioned, I would argue that the way in which we interpret the phrase is largely dependent on the expectations raised by our knowledge of modern expressions of meaning – for example, the French phrase “vouloir dire”, which proves to be the syntactical equivalent of a faux ami (“false friend”) in this context. Because the syntax of “hoc uult dicere” appears analogous to that of “ça veut dire”, and because it also corresponds with how we use expressions of meaning of texts in a number of other languages, we may be tempted to interpret the Servian phrase in a particular fashion. The upshot is clear: the expressions of meaning with which we are acquainted affect how we interpret usages of such expressions in different – yet familiar – languages such as Latin: we simply assume that Servius’ approach and conventions are the same as our own.

V. Expressions of Meaning and Quotation Marks

  • 43 For an introduction to this topic, see Lyons (1977), 5-10. For an account of quotation marks from (...)
  • 44 On this function of modern quotation marks with regard to classical Roman texts, see Feeney (2011)
  • 45 For the narrative, see Finnegan (2011), 80-108; cf. Feeney (2011), 52.
  • 46 Cf. Quine (1981), 23-26. Quine himself employed single quotation marks; in this book, I follow sta (...)
  • 47 One standard method of indicating a citation was simply to preface the quoted text with a phrase s (...)
  • 48 On quotation in ancient literature in general, see Hodgman (1924). On the lack of quotation marks (...)

42To close this introductory chapter, I would like to make a few further comments on the topic of quotation marks (already mentioned in section II), and especially on how they relate to expressions of meaning; the issue is of general importance to the chapters that follow. The use of quotation marks is something that we often take for granted in modern literary criticism;43 they can be used in a number of ways – (a) in order to draw the reader’s attention to the contested use of a particular word (“scare quotes”), (b) to refer to the title of a literary work, (c) to cite another writer’s words, (d) to show that anew character is speaking within the text itself,44 or (e) to refer to specific words as words rather than to use them to denote an exterior object. What these applications have in common is that they all point to the fact that language is being used in a special way. They only, however, became standard in the early eighteenth century,45 and the niceties of their application only truly became an obsession in twentieth-century philosophy.46 Although they observed certain marginal conventions that performed similar functions,47 ancient scribes did not have this particular typographical device at their disposal, and this had at times interesting ramifications when it came to the polysemy of expressions of meaning found within Greek and Latin.48

43We have already seen how the absence of any means of distinguishing between titles and ordinary words in orally delivered texts could cause ambiguity (section II); here, I would like to comment on how quotation marks can help an author to distinguish between what is generally described as mention and use (e). In using a word, we fit the word naturally into a sentence, most probably referring to something external to language itself by means of it. When we mention a word, however, we are simply discussing the word itself (its form, meaning, orthography, and so on). To take one example, we are using the word “sheep” in the following sentence:

31. “Sheep have four legs”.

44Here, the term “sheep” is employed in a sentence that makes a statement about a quality (having four legs) that sheep (typically) have in common. In the next example, however, we see the word “sheep” being mentioned:

32. “‘Sheep’ has five letters”.

  • 49 Davidson (1984), 79; further on in this essay (81), Davidson points out some of the more problemat (...)

45Here, one is talking about the qualities of the word “sheep”, not about the class of object to which it refers. By printing quotation marks, then, modern authors conventionally distinguish between when they are talking about what a word refers to and the word itself; to paraphrase Donald Davidson, in quotation language turns on itself.49 The technique is an important aid in discussing language within the framework of language, and one can see how context would become crucial if we did not have this means to distinguish between the phrases below:

33. “What is the meaning of life?”.

34. “What is the meaning of ‘life’?”.

  • 50 Note that even quotation marks, as they are used in this book, are polysemous – are we talking abo (...)

46The quotation marks tell us to take the noun “meaning” in a particular way – they cut down, at least, the possible ways in which we could interpret the expression. In the first case, the question is vague, and the answer could take many different forms; in the second, we are either asking about what the word “life” means or setting the word in scare quotes.50

47An awareness of the problems caused by the use-mention fallacy certainly existed in the ancient world. While intentional applications could be amusing and appear frequently in Greek and Roman comedy, it was also clear to philosophers that a failure to observe the distinction between speaking about a word (de dictu) and speaking about a thing (de re) could cause confusion in philosophical and grammatical discourse; Seneca points out how it could lead to false inferences:

35. “‘mus’ syllaba est. syllaba autem caseum non rodit. mus ergo caseum non rodit”. o pueriles ineptias. in hoc supercilia subduximus?

“‘“Mouse” is a syllable; yet a syllable does not eat cheese. Therefore a mouse does not eat cheese’. What puerile nonsense! Do we furrow our brows on account of this?” (Seneca, Epistulae 48.6).

48Augustine was also aware of such sophisms, pointing out various fallacies that turn on the question of mention and use in De Magistro: an actual lion, for example, does not come out of the mouth when one says “lion”, but rather the sign we use to designate lions (Augustine, De Magistro 8.94-109). At a different point in the same dialogue, when discussing the word “nothing” with his son, he quips that it would be unfortunate indeed if “nothing” should detain them: “si ‘nihil’ nos teneat et moras patiamur” (“if ‘nothing’ were to detain us and we experience delay” Augustine, De Magistro 2.46).

  • 51 For a Latin example, cf. Seneca, Epistulae 58.17: “‘poeta’ communiter dicitur, omnibus enim uersus (...)

49How, then, did Greek and Roman authors show that they were simply mentioning, as opposed to using, a word if they had no quotation marks to make this explicit? There were, in fact, a few conventions at their disposal. First, an author could simply use context and terminology to alert readers to the fact that he or she was talking about a word rather than about its referent. One might cite an example such as the following:51

36. ὁ γὰρ “ἄναξ” καὶ ὁ “ἕκτωρ” σχεδόν τι ταὐτὸν σηµαίνει, βασιλικὰ ἀµφότερα εἶναι τὰ ὀνόµατα.

“For ‘lord’ (‘ἄναξ’) and ‘holder’ (‘ἕκτωρ’) mean nearly the same thing – that they are royal names” (Plato, Cratylus 393a).

  • 52 One might note the extraordinary phrasing of the following passage of Plato (where the inflected w (...)

50From the context it is apparent that Plato is referring to the words, not the things to which they refer; the final word, “ὀνόµατα”, supplies us with this information when taken together with the verb “σηµαίνει”, and the broader context in which this excerpt is embedded is decisive. At times, especially where there was an expectation that words would be mentioned quite regularly, authors could simply depend on the aberrant syntax to let the reader know that a word was being mentioned and not used.52 Sometimes this method was augmented by the neuter adverb “οἷον” (“such as”, “for example”), where again the context would serve as a guide:

37. ἐλλιπῆ µὲν οὖν ἐστι τὰ ἀναπάρτιστον ἔχοντα τὴν ἐκφοράν, οἷον “γράφει”.

“Those [λεκτά, ‘sayables’] are defective whose enunciation is unfinished, for example ‘writes’” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 7.63).

51The verb “γράφει” does not fit into the grammar of the remainder of the sentence, and is marked by a cautionary “οἷον”.

52A further way of showing that the word was being mentioned rather than used was to set the word in question in the genitive case next to a noun such as “ὄνοµα”, “nomen”, or the like. Thus we see examples such as the following:

38. τὸ δ᾽ ὄνοµα τῆς ἀκολασίας καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς παιδικὰς ἁµαρτίας φέροµεν.

  • 53 For early usages, see Gianvittorio (2013), 15.

“We apply ‘profligacy’ to the wickedness of children as well” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1119a33-34).53

39. nomen Attici perire Ciceronis epistulae non sinunt.

  • 54 Cf. “dulce enim etiam nomen est pacis” (“the word ‘peace’ is sweet even on its own” Cicero, Philip (...)

“The letters of Cicero do not allow the name ‘Atticus’ to perish” (Seneca, Epistulae 21.4).54

53Here, the word “name” takes as its genitive the entity or individual to whom it belongs: one asks about the name of X, not about X as such. This might be considered a kind of periphrasis rather than quotation, and I have not marked the Greek and Latin with quotation marks (although they are used in the translation to demonstrate the overall effect of the technique). Still, this was a popular way in which ancient authors illustrated the fact that they were talking about words rather than the words’ bearers.

54However, Greek authors also developed a more sophisticated convention for distinguishing between use and mention: a singular definite article could be employed to show that they were talking about a word itself instead of the thing to which the word usually referred. The resultant anacoluthon would once again point out the role of the word to the reader. Eleanor Dickey gives the following example from a Greek scholion:

40. περὶ δὲ τοῦ “Αὐγούστα” λέγουσιν ὅτι ὤθειλεν “Αὐγούστη” εἶναι ἡ εὐθεῖα διὰ τοῦ “η”.

  • 55 Dickey (2007), 113.

“About the [word] ‘Αὐγούστα’ [fem. nom. sg., modified by an article in the neut. gen. sg.] they say that the nominative should be ‘Αὐγούστη’ with an ‘η’”.55

  • 56 Cf. “τὰ µὲν οὖν ὀνόµατα αὐτὰ καὶ τὰ ῥήµατα ἔοικε τῷ ἄνευ συνθέσεως καὶ διαιρέσεως νοήµατι, οἷον τὸ (...)
  • 57 Cf. Hodgson (1924), 412. For an early example, cf. “fac ergo id ‘facile’ noscam ego...” (“then let (...)

55In this excerpt, we see a feminine noun (“Αὐγούστα”) introduced by an inflected form of the neuter article “τό”, which makes it clear that in both cases the scholiast is mentioning rather than using the word or symbol.56 The same thing could be done for phrases, as can be seen in the excerpt from Plato discussed in the Introduction (Euthydemus 287c-e). Roman authors, who did not have a definite article at their disposal, used similar strategies involving words like “hoc” and “illud”.57

56In fact, the grammarian Apollonius Dyscolus provides us with an extended description how he conceives of this type of quotation as working; according to him, the gender of the article changes depending on what type of word follows – if it is a noun (“ὄνοµα”) or a verb (“ῥῆµα”), the article is neuter (“τό”), whereas a conjunction (“σύνδεσµος”) receives a masculine article (“ὁ”) and a pronoun (“ἀντωνυµία”) takes a feminine one (“ἡ”). He provides the following examples:

41. τὸ “λέγε” προστακτικόν ἐστι.

“‘λέγε’ (‘speak!’) is imperative”.

42. τὸ “Ἀρίσταρχοι” προπαροξύνεται.

“‘Ἀρίσταρχοι’ is accented on the antepenult”.

43. “µέν” προτακτικός ἐστι τοῦ “δέ”.

“‘µέν’ is placed before ‘δέ’”.

44. “ἐγώ”µόνον ὀρθοτονεῖται.

“‘ἐγώ’ only takes the acute accent on the ultima” (Apollonius Dyscolus, On Syntax 1.37).

  • 58 See also Augustine’s distinction between uerbum and dictio at De Dialectica 5 (discussed in Append (...)
  • 59 Cf. Plato, Cratylus 392b; 404b; etc. For an example where no article is used to introduce a quoted (...)

57Apollonius thus further demonstrates that a keen awareness of the distinction between mention and use, one of the key preoccupations of twentieth-century analytical philosophy, existed in antiquity.58 The articles were always singular, since the word itself was singular, even when it was referring to a group (as seen above). This is, of course, not entirely unambiguous when the noun itself is of the same gender and case as the article; in such situations, context must once again decide. Moreover, as we can note in the excerpt taken from the Cratylus above (36), this convention was not universal: Plato introduces both “ἄναξ” and “ἕκτωρ” with the masculine definite article “ὁ” (which agrees with the gender of its noun) rather than “τό”.59

  • 60 As in the following excerpt from Cicero, where Antonius imagines the power of Crassus’ rhetoric: “ (...)
  • 61 OLD s.v. “uis” 18: “The meaning, significance (of words, expressions, or sim.)”. Wilkins (1888), 1 (...)

58The fact that Greek and Roman authors did not use punctuation marks when mentioning a word, and did not universally adhere to the conventions mentioned in the previous paragraphs, becomes particularly important with regard to the polysemy of expressions of meaning. For instance, the noun “uis” in Latin has a wide range of valences, perhaps the central ones being “power”, “strength”, and so on,60 although “uis” could also mean “meaning” or “signification” (as we shall see in the following chapter):61

45. “ego mehercule”, inquit, “Caesar, ex omnibus Latinis uerbis huius uerbi uim uel maximam semper putaui. quem enim nos ineptum uocamus…

“‘Indeed, Caesar’, replied [Crassus], ‘I have truly thought that, of all the Latin words, this one [‘inept’] has the widest signification. For whomever we call ‘inept’...” (Cicero, De Oratore 2.17).

59Here, it is clear that the word “uim” in the phrase “huius uerbi uim”, which contains an explicit reference to a word, should be taken in the sense of “signification” or “meaning”; at other times, however, it can be difficult to determine whether a Roman author is speaking about the meaning of a word or the power of its referent, since the context may fail to give us any clear hint as to whether the word is being mentioned or whether it is being used. Compare the following, also from the De Oratore:

46. quamquam uis oratoris professioque ipsa bene dicendi hoc suscipere ac polliceri uidetur, ut omni de re quaecumque sit proposita ab eo ornate copioseque dicatur.

“Even though the uis oratoris and the very profession of speaking well appear to admit and to promise that every affair that is proposed [to the orator] will be treated by him both decorously and plentifully” (Cicero, De Oratore 1.21).

  • 62 Cf. “quam ob rem siquis uniuersam et propriam oratoris uim definire complectique uolt, is orator e (...)

60In this case, we have no sure way to determine whether Cicero is using the word “orator” or whether he is simply mentioning it. Consequently, Wilkins suggests that we can take the phrase “uis oratoris” as either “the very meaning of the word orator” (sic) or as “the oratorical faculty”.62 Cicero does not distinguish here between the two possibilities, and the context is ambiguous. Although Cicero may well have intended this ambiguity, cases like this can remind us of the helpfulness of quotation marks, particularly as they relate to expressions of meaning. They also bring out the fact that expressions of meaning are polysemous, and can be used indifferent ways; this is not merely the case where volition and cognition are at issue (“sibi uelle”), but also with expressions that stem from other semantic spheres, such as “uis” and “δύναµις” (“force”, “power”).

VI. Conclusion

61In conclusion, it will be useful to recapitulate the main contentions of this first chapter:

  1. Ancient authors could play on the ambiguity of “sibi uelle”, as we saw in the case of Calvus in I and Terence in II. In the first of these, the point of Calvus’ epigram lay in the fact that “sibi uelle” can be interpreted as both “to want for oneself” and “to mean”; on the other hand, in the prologue to Terence’s Eunuchus the poet was seen to toy with the idea that both texts and human beings can serve as the subject for “sibi uelle”: the Eunuchus becomes, in a sense, a eunuch.
  2. The familiarity of the ambiguity noted in II and III may affect the way in which we as modern scholars interpret expressions of meaning in ancient texts, such as “hoc uult dicere” in Servius (IV): I argued that the proper way to interpret the phase is “he means this” rather than “this means” or “he means by this”.
  3. Finally (V), we have seen how the absence of quotation marks can be important when it comes to expressions of meaning; because of the polysemy of “uis” one is at times uncertain whether to translate it as “power” or “meaning”.

62What I hope has become clear from this chapter is that classical philologists are well placed to contribute to the contemporary philosophical and linguistic debates that surround the term “meaning”: the roots of many of these issues can be traced back to the ancient world. Above all, however, it is important to be aware of the polysemy of the words that we have been investigating: this is a crucial group of expressions when it comes to literary criticism, and one that deserves special attention, since these locutions come naturally to us and we often use them without reflection. While we are generally concerned about what words and texts mean, it is always good to ask ourselves what we mean when we use the verb “to mean”.

Notes

1 LSJ s.v. “λεξιθηρέω”; cf. Gellius, Noctes Atticae 2.9.4-5: “nimis minute ac prope etiam subfrigide... λεξιθηρεῖ” (“[he] hunts words... too fastidiously and almost pedantically”). Parts of this chapter have been adapted from Zanker (2013).

2 On this epigram, see in particular Jocelyn (1996), 243-254; cf. Lausberg (1982), 393-394; Courtney (1993), 210; Hollis (2007), 83-84. Clodius’ attack on Pompey is recorded by Plutarch, Pompey 48.7: “τίς ἐστιν αὐτοκράτωρ ἀκόλαστος; τίς ἀνὴρ ἄνδρα ζητεῖ; τίς ἑνὶ δακτύλῳ κνᾶται τὴν κεφαλήν;” (“‘who is a unbridled imperator?’ ‘Which man seeks a man?’ ‘Who scratches his head with one finger?’”). Clodius’ followers shouted out in answer: “Pompey”; cf. Cassius Dio, History of Rome 39.19.1-2; Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 17.11.4. Seneca the Elder provides an incomplete version of the epigram at Controuersiae 7.4.7.

3 Cf. Williams (1999), 216: “He scratches his head with one finger. What would you think he wants?

4 Jocelyn (1996) is also troubled, expressing doubt as to whether we possess the entire epigram; his article contains an excellent investigation of the scholarly tradition and cultural context of these lines. Cf. Hollis (2007), 83.

5 OLD s.v. “uolo” 2: “To desire to have, want (a particular thing or person)... w. dat. of advantage”. See Adams (2013), 349-350.

6 OLD s.v. “uolo” 17: “To want to be understood (as its meaning), imply, signify, mean… (w. sibi)”.

7 See, for instance, Cicero, De Finibus 4.57: “quid igitur uoluit sibi, qui illa mutauerit?” (“what did he mean by altering their names?”); Martial 6.54.3. For a usage in the second person, cf. Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.5: “‘quid enim tibi uis?’ aliquis inquiat” (“someone might say: ‘what do you mean?’”).

8 Cf. Lausberg (1982), 393: “Magnus, den alle fürchten, kratzt sich mit einem Finger den Kopf. Was will er bloß damit? Einen Mann”. The pun was also used, albeit in a different way, by Martial: “uult, non uult dare Galla mihi, nec dicere possum, quod uult et non uult, quid sibi Galla uelit” (“Galla wants and doesn’t want to allow me, nor can I say, since she wants and does not want, what Galla means/wants [for herself]” Martial 3.90). Here, part of the play is on the different constructions governing the datives “mihi” and “sibi”. Compare the note to this epigram in Shackleton Bailey’s Loeb volume: “Play on the normal meaning of quid sibi uelit, ‘what she means’, and the literal, ‘what she wants for herself’”. My thanks to Brigitte Libby for this example.

9 Regarding “signify”, see the discussion of “σηµαίνειν”, “significare”, “signifier”, “signify”, and “bedeuten” in Chapter 3.

10 Cf. OLD s.v. “uolo” 17.

11 For a usage with reference to words, cf. “... quid sibi lex aut quid uerba ista uellent” (“...what the law or the words mean” Cicero, De Legibus 3.33).

12 Cf. “quid ergo illa sibi uolt pars altera orationis, qua Romanos amecultos ait...?” (“what, then, does that other part of his speech mean, in which he claims that the Romans have been cultivated by me...?” Livy, Historiae 40.12.9-16); “‘ quid sibi’, inquis, ‘ista praeparatio uult? quo spectat?’” (“you will say ‘what does this preamble mean? Where is it aiming?’” Seneca, Epistulae 58.6); see also Seneca, Epistulae 101.1 (where the grammatical subject is “principium”).

13 See Barsby (1999), 89; for an interpretation concerning the “machismo” of the Eunuchus, see Gowers (2004), 157-158. On Terence’s prologues, see also Goldberg (1983).

14 Cf. Buck (1949), 1231-1233.

15 For different lists from the following one, see Lyons (1977), 1.1-2; Nozick (1981), 574-575; Searle (1998), 139. For an excellent discussion, see Lyons (1977), 1.1-5. On the distinction between utterer’s meaning and sentence meaning, see Grice (1957), 377-388; Grice (1989); Sperber & Wilson (1995), 1-64. Ogden & Richards (1953), 185-208, tabulate sixteen different categories of usage for the word “meaning” in early twentieth-century philosophical debate.

16 OED s.v. “mean (v)” I.1.b: “With infinitive as object: to intend or be determined to do something”.

17 OED s.v. “mean (v)” II.7: “trans. With modifying word or phrase: to be important to a person to the extent indictated, esp. as a source of benefit or as an object of regard, affection, or love; to matter (a lot, nothing, etc.)”.

18 OED s.v. “mean (v)” II.7: “Of a thing, word, or statement: to have as signification; to signify, import; to portend. Also with clause as object (often an indirect question introduced by what)”.

19 OED s.v. “mean (v)” II.6.a: “trans. To intend to indicate (a certain object) or to convey (a certain sense when using some word, sentence, significant action)”.

20 DWB s.v. “meinen” 2: “vor alters her auch von worten, einen angegebenen sinn haben, etwas bedeuten”.

21 Cf. Meinecke & Schwerdt (2001), 21: “Der Terminus indogermanischmeint Sprachen, deren Verbreitungsgebiet vom einen genannten Punkt (indisch) bis zum anderen (germanisch) reicht”; Koselleck (1979), 353: “‘Geschichte’ hatte damals noch nicht, wie später im Zeichen ihrer wissenschaftlichen Aufbereitung, vorzüglich die Vergangenheit gemeint...”.

22 Derrida (1979), 125; cf. “Je veux dire qu’il a raison” (“I mean that he’s right”). GR s.v. “dire” II.1.

23 Derrida (1979), 128; cf. “Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire?” (“What does that mean?”). GR s.v. “dire” III.4.

24 Italian: “che cosa vuoi dire con questo?” (“what do you mean by this?”); “che cosa vuol dire questa parola?” (“what does this word mean?”). Portuguese: “que quer dizer com isto?” (“what do you mean by this?”); “que quer dizer essa palavra?” (“what does this word mean?”). Spanish: “¿qué quiere Usted decir con eso?” (“what do you mean by this?”); “¿qué quiere decir esta palabra?” (“what does this word mean?”). The Spanish and Portuguese expressions go back to Latin “quaerere” (“to seek, desire”) instead of “uelle” (“to want”), although the effect is much the same.

25 LSJ s.v. “βούλοµαι” III.1: “mean”. Compare Plato, Protagoras 343d: “εἰ βουλόµενος λέγειν ὅτι...” (“if, wishing to say that...”). On the Greek verbs that follow, see also Ademollo (2011), 233-237.

26 For further examples, see Chapter 2.I.

27 LSJ s.v. “λέγω” III.9: “wish to say, mean”; cf. “οὔτοι γυναῖκας ἀλλὰ Γοργόνας λέγω” (“no – I do not mean women, but Gorgons” Aeschylus, Eumenides 48); “πῶς λέγεις;” (“how do you mean?” Plato passim; see, for example, Apology 24e; Cratylus 429c); “…ἵνα µοι χρόνος ἐγγένηται τῇ σκέψει τί λέγοι ὁποιητής” (“…in order to gain time for the consideration of the poet’s meaning…” Plato, Protagoras 339e; cf. 341c-e). On Plato’s use of “λέγειν” in this fashion, see Yunis (2003), 205. Cf. Isocrates, Panathenaicus 215, “…ἐµὲ λέγων” (“…meaning me”), and Aristotle, Rhetoric 1412a22, where it is contrasted with a different verb of speech: “...ἐκ τοῦ µὴ ὅ φησι λέγειν” (“... from not meaning what one says”).

28 This is, however, a rare usage; see Chapter 2.III for discussion.

29 The text is that of Hude, “εἶπαι” here being a correction for the transmitted “εἶναι” (which Rosén retains); see Appendix I. Cf. “φέρ᾽ ἐξελίξας περιβολὰς σφραγισµάτων ἴδω τί λέξαι δέλτος ἥδε µοι θέλει” (“come, let me see, having opened its sealed wrappings, what the tablet means to me/wishes to tell me” Euripides, Hippolytus 864-865, cf. 877).

30 See Chapter 2 for further examples. Compare the excerpt from the Euthydemus cited in the Introduction (Plato, Euthydemus 287c-e).

31 For example, in modern Greek we find expressions like “τό νόηµα του κειµένου” (“the meaning of the text”) and “το κείµενο θέλει να µάς πει” (“the text wants to say to us/means...”); my thanks to Emmanuela Schoinoplokaki for a discussion of this.

32 The text is that of Thilo & Hagen. My investigation here is limited to Servius’ usage (I do not include Servius Auctus). The situation is different in early Christian authors, who were working with a different conception of the text (“scriptura”). The phrase can be found in Servius’ comments on Aeneid 8.154, 9.25, 11.502, 12.350; Eclogues 2.66; Georgics 1.370, 1.512. My thanks to Tom Keeline for a very helpful discussion of this issue.

33 OLD s.v. “hoc” 10c; cf. Servius on Aeneid 1.79. For a non-Servian usage: “hoc est dicere” (“this is to say” Augustine, Confessiones 10.31.41).

34 It would be strange indeed if the proper translation of the underlined words were “this (hoc) means these (haec)”.

35 It is possible, for example, that “this means” is the default setting, and that a shift takes place with the introduction of an explicit subject such as “haec” to give us “she means this”. The first unmistakable examples that I have found of “uult dicere” applied to an inanimate subject are in Augustine and Nonius Marcellus: e.g. “id tamen dicam, quod mihi per eius uerba tua ueritas dicere uoluerit, quae illi quoque dixit quod uoluit” (“may it be that I shall say that which your Truth wanted to say to me through its words, just as it said what it wished to [Moses]” Augustine, Confessiones 12.32.43); cf. “omnia ista innuunt aliquid, indicare uolunt aliquid” (“all these things indicate something, they want to reveal something” Augustine, In Iohannis Euangelium Tractatus 15.6.3). Nonius Marcellus 171.2 M: “uetustas uoluit dicere...” (“antiquity meant...”), although here “antiquity” is a metonymy for “ancient authors”.

36 See already Plautus, Amphitruo 383-384 De Melo: “Mer: Amphitruonis te esse aiebas Sosiam. Sos: Peccaueram. nam Amphitruonis socium memet esse uolui dicere” (Mercury: “you were saying you were the Sosia of Amphitruo”; Sosia: “I made a mistake; for I meant that I am Amphitruo’s associate”); Pseudolus 843; Terence, Eunuchus 504: “quid? quid aliud uolui dicere?” (“well, then, what else did I mean to say?”). In comedy, this sort of self-correction is known as “epanorthosis” (“setting aright”); see Fontaine (2010), 38. Cf. Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes 2.20: “uolo autem dicere…” (“I however mean…”); Catullus 84.1-2: “‘Chommoda’ dicebat si quando ‘commoda’ uellet dicere” (“he said ‘chommoda’ whenever he meant ‘commoda’”); Seneca, Epistulae 19.9: “uolo tibi hoc loco referre dictum Maecenatis uera inipso eculeo elocuti: ‘ipsa enim altitudo attonit summa’. Si quaeris, in quo libro dixerit: in eo, qui Prometheus inscribitur. hoc uoluit dicere, attonita habet summa” (“at this point I should like to quote a saying of Maecenas, who spoke the truth when he was on the rack: ‘there’s thunder even on the loftiest peaks’. If you ask in what book he said this, it is in the volume entitled Prometheus. He meant this: that these lofty peaks have their tops surrounded with thunder-storms”).

37 OLD s.v. “hoc” 12.

38 This usage is backed up by other examples, where the name of the author is supplied as the subject: “tamen Cato in Originibus hoc dicit, cuius auctoritatem Sallustius sequitur in Bello Catilinae…” (“but Cato says this in his Origines, whose authority Sallust follows in the Bellum Catilinae…” Servius on Aeneid 1.6); for the use of pronoun subjects, see for example Servius on Aeneid 7.1; 10.145; 11.787.

39 Cf. “NecposseItalia detraxit more suo praepositionem prouinciae; non enim dixit ‘de Italia’, sed ‘Italia’” (“he has removed, according to his custom, the preposition from the province; for he has not said ‘de Italia’ but rather ‘Italia’” Servius on Aeneid 1.38).

40 For other instances of “uult dicere” with Vergil marked as the subject, see Servius on Aeneid 5.380; 11.411.

41 This principle was maintained within the body of the commentary itself, for example at the crucial moment in Servius’ explication of Aeneas’ hesitation before killing Turnus: “omnis intentio ad Aeneae pertinet gloriam” (“[Vergil’s] every purpose concerns the glory of Aeneas” Servius on Aeneid 12.940). Against this, see Silk (1974), 234.

42 Compare, however, Servius Auctus on Aeneid 2.158.

43 For an introduction to this topic, see Lyons (1977), 5-10. For an account of quotation marks from the diple onwards, see Finnegan (2011), 80-108.

44 On this function of modern quotation marks with regard to classical Roman texts, see Feeney (2011).

45 For the narrative, see Finnegan (2011), 80-108; cf. Feeney (2011), 52.

46 Cf. Quine (1981), 23-26. Quine himself employed single quotation marks; in this book, I follow standard American style.

47 One standard method of indicating a citation was simply to preface the quoted text with a phrase such as “scriptum est” or “dicit”. In the case of longer citations (a line of hexameter, for example), an ancient scribe might indicate the beginning and end of a quotation by means of a small line in the margin, a paragraphos, of which the early Derveni papyrus contains excellent examples; for a recent discussion of its use in this text, see Rusten (2014), 125-132. We have examples in our early Christian manuscripts of the diple, which had been used by Alexandrian critics in order to draw attention to a particular line, being used in the margins in order to note citations from the holy texts; see Parkes (1993), 12 with Plate 5 (cf. Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 1.21.16). In the early Medieval period, commentaries could use different colors or script to distinguish between a quotation and the surrounding text, or move the passage under discussion in from the margin; see Bischoff (2009), 33 and 228.

48 On quotation in ancient literature in general, see Hodgman (1924). On the lack of quotation marks in ancient philosophy, with particular reference to Aristotle’s Categories, see Kneale & Kneale (1962), 26-27.

49 Davidson (1984), 79; further on in this essay (81), Davidson points out some of the more problematic aspects of quotation – for example, is the element within quotation marks in the following quotation being mentioned or used: “Quine says that quotation ‘... has a certain anomalous feature’”?

50 Note that even quotation marks, as they are used in this book, are polysemous – are we talking about the word “life”, or registering cynicism as to life itself? I. A. Richards (1942), 66-70, suggested replacing the standard inverted commas in favor of more specific signs: “ww”, for example, indicates that a word is being talked about (mentioned), whereas “!!” suggests derision. See Lyons (1977), 5-10, for other distinctions.

51 For a Latin example, cf. Seneca, Epistulae 58.17: “‘poeta’ communiter dicitur, omnibus enim uersus facientibus hoc nomen est...” (“the word ‘poet’ is used indiscriminately, for this is the name of all those who make verse...”).

52 One might note the extraordinary phrasing of the following passage of Plato (where the inflected word “λόγον” had occurred previously): “φέρε δή, τί ποτε βούλεται ‘τὸν λόγον’ ἡµῖν σηµαίνειν; τριῶν γὰρ ἕν τί µοι δοκεῖ λέγειν” (“come now, what then does “rational explanation” mean? For it seems to me to mean three things” Plato, Theaetetus 206c). For a Latin example of an anacoluthon being important, see, for instance, Varro, De Lingua Latina 6.58: “‘pro’ idem ualet quod ‘ante’” (“‘pro’ means the same thing as ‘ante’”).

53 For early usages, see Gianvittorio (2013), 15.

54 Cf. “dulce enim etiam nomen est pacis” (“the word ‘peace’ is sweet even on its own” Cicero, Philippicae 13.1). For the use of “uerbum” in mentioning a word: “uerum esto: uerbum ipsum uoluptatis non habet dignitatem” (“be that as it may: the word “pleasure” itself does not have any honor” Cicero, De Finibus 2.75).

55 Dickey (2007), 113.

56 Cf. “τὰ µὲν οὖν ὀνόµατα αὐτὰ καὶ τὰ ῥήµατα ἔοικε τῷ ἄνευ συνθέσεως καὶ διαιρέσεως νοήµατι, οἷον τὸ ‘ἄνθρωπος’ ἢ ‘λευκόν’, ὅταν µὴ προστεθῇ τι” (“nouns and verbs themselves are like a thought without combination or division, for example, “man” or “white”, whenever nothing is added” Aristotle, On Interpretation 16a13-16); Plato, Protagoras 341a.

57 Cf. Hodgson (1924), 412. For an early example, cf. “fac ergo id ‘facile’ noscam ego...” (“then let me learn this ‘easily’...” Plautus, Poenulus 893).

58 See also Augustine’s distinction between uerbum and dictio at De Dialectica 5 (discussed in Appendix II). Augustine’s De Magistro contains much of interest on the topic of quotation; at De Magistro 5.58-5.219, he suggests that quoted words become nouns, regardless of their role outside of the quotation.

59 Cf. Plato, Cratylus 392b; 404b; etc. For an example where no article is used to introduce a quoted word, see Plato, Cratylus 394e.

60 As in the following excerpt from Cicero, where Antonius imagines the power of Crassus’ rhetoric: “…tamen omnem eorum importunitatem ex intimis mentibus euellisset uis orationis tuae” (“… the power of your eloquence would nonetheless have rent away all the savagery from the bottom of their hearts” Cicero, De Oratore 1.230).

61 OLD s.v. “uis” 18: “The meaning, significance (of words, expressions, or sim.)”. Wilkins (1888), 11, on “uim uel maximam”: “‘The very widest signification’”. Cf. “omniaque quae sunt uel generum uel partium nomina, definitionibus quam uim habeant est exprimendum” (“all names, whether of general classes or species, must be so defined as to show the significance of each” Cicero, De Oratore 1.189).

62 Cf. “quam ob rem siquis uniuersam et propriam oratoris uim definire complectique uolt, is orator erit mea sententia hoc tam graui dignus nomine, qui…” (“for which reason, if someone seeks to define and encompass the entire and specific oratorisuim, he will be an orator, in my opinion worthy of such dignified a title, who...” Cicero, De Oratore 1.64). Wilkins (1888), 111, on “oratoris uim”: “‘The force of the word orator’ … Or perhaps as in [1.]21”. For another possible wordplay on the senses of “uis” (in Seneca), see McElduff (2013), 161.

© C.H.Beck, 2016

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