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Greek and Latin. Expressions of Meaning

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Andreas T. Zanker

Chapter 2: Greek and Latin Expressions of Meaning (I)

Texte intégral

oed s.v. “mean”, v2 1.a: “To complain or lament (something); to lament (for a dead person)”.
oed s.v. †“meaning”, n1: “Obs. The action of mean v2; moaning, lamentation”.

  • 1 I am particularly indebted to Telegdi (1977), Telegdi (1982), Brachet (1994), Sluiter (1997), Brac (...)

1What kinds of expressions could be used in the ancient world to describe what texts “do”? In this chapter I shall expand on what we have already noted in sections II and III of Chapter 1, building up a list of relevant expressions of meaning (verbs and their associated nouns) and paying attention to their diachronic development. One thing that will become clear from this survey is that the verbs involved occupy a fairly limited set of semantic spheres – I. verbs of desiring and wanting (e.g. “(ἐ)θέλειν”, “βούλεσθαι”, “uelle”); II. verbs of thinking (e.g. “νοεῖν”, “sentire”); III. verbs of speaking (e.g. “λέγειν”, “dicere”, “sonare”); IV. passive constructions (e.g. “λέγεσθαι”, “dictum esse”, “intellegi”, “accipi”); V. verbs of equivalence (e.g. “εἶναι”, “δύνασθαι”, “esse”, “ualere”, “posse”); and VI. verbs of showing and sign-giving (e.g. “σηµαίνειν”, “µηνύειν”, “φράζειν”, “significare”, “ostendere”).1 The final group (VI) requires somewhat more discussion and will be treated in the following chapter. On this summary list, however, we can already see that all of the active verbs could be used of human beings as well as of texts: Greek and Latin did not evolve a unique vocabulary for describing what texts meant.

  • 2 For an overview, see Kluge s.v. “meinen” and the etymological section of OED s.v. “to mean”. My th (...)
  • 3 ODEE s.v. “mean1”: “cf. IE *men (see mind)”. Cf. LIV s.v. “*men-”: “einen Gedanken fassen”.
  • 4 LIV s.v. “*mei-”. Cf. AHDIR s.v. “*mei-no-”: “opinion, intention”.
  • 5 Trier (1964); Trier (1981). Cf. Kluge s.v. “meinen”: “meinen ist ursprünglich ‘der Reihe nach, im (...)

2Before considering the classical vocabulary, however, it will be helpful to lay out briefly what we know about the development of the English terms at the center of this study: “to mean” and “meaning”. The ultimate origins of the verb “to mean” remain unclear;2 this is largely because the Germanic language family, from which the term immediately stems, only truly enters the literary record in the first millennium AD. The modern English “to mean” goes back to the Anglo-Saxon “mǣnan”, which, on comparison with the other Germanic examples, can be derived from a reconstructed West-Germanic pre-form “*mainjan”. After this, things become tricky, and we are ultimately forced to hunt for the possible origins of the terminology among the Proto-Indo-European roots. One candidate that was particularly attractive to earlier etymologists was the PIE root “* men-”, which had a possible sense of “to think” and gave rise to words such as the Greek “µένος” (“anger”, “passion”), Latin “mens” (“mind”), Sanskrit “manas” (“mind”), and so on.3 Attractive as it is, the etymology does not work: on the basis of the sound changes attested for the Indo-European languages it is impossible to derive the word-group to which “to mean” belongs from PIE “*men-”. Amore promising suggestion is to see the vocabulary as issuing ultimately from the PIE root “*mei-” (possibly “to change”, “to exchange”):4 Jost Trier has argued the relevant sense may have resulted from the idea of presenting a verbal opinion in turn in council.5 According to this view, the verb stemmed from the realm of speech and verbal expression rather than from that of thought. In any case, all such attempts must remain uncertain: the state of our evidence does not allow us to place much confidence in reconstructions of this kind.

  • 6 The examples are taken from BT s.v. “mǣnan” I: “of persons (a) to intend to convey a certain sense(...)

3After writing was adopted, our picture becomes clearer. The two usages of “to mean” involved in I-meaning and S-meaning were already present in the case of the Anglo-Saxon verb “mǣnan”:6

1. Gif hē of wege ǣnigne gebrohte... ðæt is ðæt ic mǣne gif hē ǣnigne man on synne bespeōne.

“If he has brought any man out of the way... what I mean is, if he has lured any man to sin”.

2. Faraþ and leorniaþ hwæt ðæt mǣne: “Ic wylle mildheortnysse, and nā offrunge”.

  • 7 Compare a further example in the BT: “understandan hwæt ða twā word mǣnan, ‘abrenuntio’ and ‘credo (...)

“Go and study what this might mean: ‘Iwant compassion, and not offerings’”.7

  • 8 Schützeichel (2012), s.v. “meinen”. Cf. DWB s.v. “sinn” 16 (“thought”); 22 (“significance”): “in n (...)
  • 9 For the modern verb, see the previous chapter. It is worth noting that in other Germanic languages (...)

4In the first excerpt (1), we are dealing with what a human being means by saying something, whereas in the second (2) we are talking about the meaning of language. The Anglo-Saxon verb “mǣnan” appears to have already exhibited the polysemy that we see with its modern descendant. We can incidentally note the same double usage of the verb in Old High German (“daz meinet...”),8 as we can with the modern German form.9In sum, while the evidence from Anglo-Saxon demonstrates that the putative transference was early, it unfortunately also means that we are unable to settle the issue of how the polysemy occurred by focusing solely on the recorded history of English. When one compares the word with the classical evidence offered by verbs such as “βούλεσθαι”, “νοεῖν”, “uelle”, and “sentire”, however, one is tempted to suppose that a term that came to be employed to describe what things, and ultimately texts, mean was originally employed of intentional agents.

I. Expressions of Desiring and Wanting

5The main expression of meaning considered in the previous chapter (“sibi uelle”) has a term of desiring and wanting as a core element. It should be noted that the simple “uelle”, without the “sibi”, could be used in a similar way – both of the intention of a human being in making an utterance and of the general significance or purport of what he or she says:

3. in syllogismo... quid uoluerit scriptor [quaeritur].

  • 10 Cf. “loqueris quantum uis et plus significas quam loqueris” (“you say as much as you mean, and you (...)

“In the case of syllogism, [one inquires as to] what the writer meant” (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 7. 10.1).10

4. uereor ne quis forte uestrum miretur quid haec mea oratio tam longa aut tam alte repetita uelit...

  • 11 OLD s.v. “uolo” 17; cf. “uota quid illa uelint...” (“what those prayers might mean...” Ovid, Metam (...)

“I fear that by chance one of you will wonder as to what this speech of mine, so lengthy and traced back so far, might mean...” (Cicero, Pro Sestio 31).11

  • 12 Compare the rather rare German phrase “der Text will sagen…”, where the metaphor is clear; cf. Gad (...)

6Although, as we have seen, the expression “uult dicere” itself does not appear to take words and texts themselves as its subject in Servius’ commentaries, the modern Romance languages exhibit precisely this type of expression in phrases such as “veut dire” (French) and “vuol dire” (Italian), and the Germanic languages contain analogous expressions such as “will sagen” (German) and “dat wil zeggen” (Dutch);12 in each of these cases, the expression serves as a synonym for “signifies”.

  • 13 Albrecht Dihle has argued that the Greeks had no verb that corresponds with the English “will” (at (...)
  • 14 The instances collected in LfgE s.v. “ἐθέλω” pertain to gods, human beings, and animals – not to i (...)
  • 15 Powell (1960), s.v “ἐθέλω”. See Appendix I.
  • 16 See Madden (1975); Neuberger-Donath (1975).
  • 17 Cf. Chapter 1 (Plato, Theaetetus 156c). Further examples follow: “δηλοῖ δέ γε, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, καὶ ὁ νό (...)

7As noted, the Greek language also contains examples of the use of a verb of wanting or desiring being applied to a piece of text.13 The earliest usages of the verb “ἐθέλειν” generally took animate beings as their subject,14 but at a later date the verb came to be used of what inanimate things mean. Herodotus uses expressions that take the form of “(ἐ)θέλει” + infinitive of inanimate objects at a number of points: the sign or statement “wants” to communicate something.15 The verb “βούλεσθαι”, although perhaps originally different in nuance from “ἐθέλειν”,16 is similar in terms of its dynamics as an expression of meaning. In Homer it is used of human beings, gods, and so on, but later on it came to be employed of things and texts (with or without an infinitive such as “λέγειν” or “εἶναι”).17 The two principal verbs of wanting or desiring in Greek (“βούλεσθαι”, “ἐθέλειν”) therefore came over time to be applied to inanimate things such as myths and names in order to explain what they meant – what they “wanted”.

8The nouns that correspond to these verbs, “uoluntas” and “βούλησις” (“ἐθέλειν” does not yield a noun that can be translated as “meaning”), exhibit the same property, in that they came to be used to describe both an author’s meaning and the meaning of a word/text in its own right. We might first consider the Latin noun “uoluntas”:

5. opponitur scripto uoluntas scriptoris.

  • 18 OLD s.v. “uoluntas” 6.

“The meaning of the author is opposed to his text” (Cicero, Topica 96).18

6. in finitione, quae sit uoluntas nominis, quaeritur.

  • 19 OLD s.v. “uoluntas” 6.

“In definition one inquires as to the meaning of a term” (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 7.10.1).19

  • 20 LSJ s.v. “βούλησις”; cf. “βούληµα”.

9In excerpt 5, which involves the intentional meaning of a human being, the genitive that follows refers back toa “scriptor”, while in 6the same position is occupied by a word – “nomen”. To turn to fourth-century BC examples of the Greek noun “βούλησις”, we find the same phenomenon; when the noun is attached to a human being it is basically equivalent to our terms “wish” or “purpose”,20 but it could also be used of the meaning or intention of words and poems:

7. ἐπικρύπτει τὴν βούλησιν τοῦ ὀνόµατος.

  • 21 For the noun used of the meaning of alonger text: “ἀλλὰ τὸν τύπον αὐτοῦ τὸν ὅλον διεξέλθωµεν καὶ τ (...)

“[The addition of ‘ψ’] conceals the name’s meaning” (Plato, Cratylus 421b).21

10In this excerpt, “βούλησιν” may be translated literally as “desire” or “will”, but we can also translate it as “meaning”. Just like “uoluntas”, then, the term provides evidence for how nouns of wishing could be employed of inanimate modes of communication such as words and texts. To anticipate a later discussion, it seems to be the case that these nouns have become associated with the meaning of words either by ellipsis (the “wisher” has dropped out) or, more probably, by metonymy (the speaker’s intention has become attached to his or her words), so that ultimately the words could have an intention of their own.

II. Expressions of Thinking

  • 22 Cf. Kirk (1990), 119.
  • 23 LSJ s.v. “νοέω” III: “νοέω δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς Ἕκτορά τοι λῦσαι” (“I am already minded/I already intend t (...)

11A different type of expression of meaning involves verbs that relate to thought and intention. In Greek, we have verbs such as “διανοεῖν”, “διανοεῖσθαι”, “ἐννοεῖν”, and the simple “νοεῖν”. In the Homeric epics, “νοεῖν” usually means something like “to realize”, “to see in its true colors”, or simply “to notice” (for example at Iliad 5.590);22 we also find it used in the Iliad and Odyssey to describe what the heroes intend or mean to accomplish.23By Plato’s time the verb and its derivatives could also be applied to speakers and what they intend or mean to say:

8. ...οὓς οὔτε ἀνερέσθαι οἷον τ᾽ ἐστὶν περὶ ὧν λέγουσιν, ἐπαγόµενοί τε αὐτοὺς οἱ πολλοὶ ἐν τοῖς λόγοις οἱ µὲν ταῦτά φασιν τὸν ποιητὴν νοεῖν, οἱ δ᾽ ἕτερα, περὶ πράγµατος διαλεγόµενοι ὃ ἀδυνατοῦσι ἐξελέγξαι.

  • 24 Cf. “τί διανοούµενος εἶπε” (“what he meant when he spoke” Plato, Theaetetus 184a); Plato, Phaedrus(...)

“...nor is it possible to interrogate [poets] about what they say; for the most part, when the majority of people cite [poets] as witnesses in discussions, some say the poet’s meaning is one thing but some another, for the topic is one on which nobody can produce a conclusive argument” (Plato, Protagoras 347e).24

  • 25 LSJ s.v. “νοέω” IV: “of words, bear a certain sense, mean”; cf. “ἐννοέω” VI: “of words, mean, sign (...)
  • 26 For an object meaning something “to” someone (“νοεῖ αὐτῷ”), see Plato, Republic 335e.

12As we have seen, however, from the late fifth century onwards we can also find verbs such as “νοεῖν” being used of oracles (Aristophanes, Wealth 55) and of speech itself (Plato, Euthydemus 287c-e).25 What had been in Homer a verb of perception and mental activity came also to be used of what things mean to us.26

  • 27 DELG s.v. “νόος”; Frisk s.v. “νόος”; Beekes s.v. “νόος”; Krischer (1984), 141-149. For a summary o (...)
  • 28 Snell (1953), 13. LSJ s.v. “νόος” II: “act of mind, thought”; cf. Iliad 9.104: “οὐ γάρ τις νόον ἄλ (...)

13The verb “νοεῖν” derives from “νόος”, a noun of unclear origin.27It is attested in Homer as “mind”, but also as “act of mind” and “thought”: as Bruno Snell put it, it was possible to “think a ‘νόος’” in the Homeric epics:28

9. οὐ γάρ πω σάφα οἶσθ᾽ οἷος νόος Ἀτρεΐωνος.

“You do not yet know clearly the intention of Agamemnon” (Homer, Iliad 2.192).

  • 29 LSJ s.v. “νόος” III: “sense, meaning of a word, etc.”; see Appendix I. One should compare LSJ s.v. (...)

14In the fifth and fourth centuries BC, however, we can find it being used in the expanded sense of the “intention” or “meaning” of a phrase:29

10. οὗτος ὁ νόος τοῦ ῥήµατος...

  • 30 This phrase is in fact sequestered by Hude, but the usage was certainly Herodotean; cf. Herodotus,(...)

“This is the meaning of the statement...” (Herodotus, Histories 7.162.2).30

  • 31 LSJ s. v. “διάνοια” IV: “thought expressed, meaning of a word or passage”. On this word, see Eden (...)

15The word “νόος” has in these cases not been applied to the human agent (s) behind the statement, but rather to the statement itself. The same general phenomenon may be noted in the case of the post-Homeric noun “διάνοια”, which from the fourth century BC onwards could denote both the intentions of individuals and the meanings of words and passages, radiating out from a prototypical sense of “thought”:31

11. οἶσθα οὖν ὅτι µόνον τούτων δηλοῖ τὸ ἀρχαῖον ὄνοµα τὴν διάνοιαν τοῦ θεµένου;

  • 32 Cf....φράσαι τὴν ἐµὴν διάνοιαν” (“...to put my meaning into words” Plato, Alcibiades I 104e); “... (...)

“Do you know, then, that only the ancient word reveals the namegiver’s meaning?” (Plato, Cratylus 418c).32

12. …αὐτός τε αὖ πάλιν ἑκάστου τὴν διάνοιαν ὀνόµατος ἀναλαµβάνων εἰς τὴν ἡµετέραν ἄγων φωνὴν ἀπεγράφετο.

  • 33 For other Platonic examples, see Cratylus 418a: “προστιθέντες γράµµατα καὶ ἐξαιροῦντες σφόδρα ἀλλο (...)

“…and he at once, after recovering the meaning of each name and rendering it in our language, wrote it down” (Plato, Critias 113a).33

  • 34 Cf. Ddtgg s.v. “διάνοια”, “ἔννοια”, “νοῦς”. One might note that Epicurus used similar vocabulary: (...)

16In 11, Socrates is discussing the role of the name-giver in determining the meanings of words; this is related to his intention. In 12, however, we have a different type of “διάνοια”, where the word is applied to the “thought of a name”, generally rendered as “meaning”. To sum up: nouns related to “νοεῖν” could mean “meaning/intention” [of a word or text] from the fifth century onwards, and continued to do so through to the end of antiquity.34

17We can see something similar in this regard in Latin when it comes to the noun “mens”, usually translated as “mind”. Just like “νόος” and “διάνοια”, it could be used of both the intentions of human beings and the meanings of words and poems:

13. …tu ut ullum exsilium cogites? utinam tibi istam mentem di immortales duint!

“…that you might think ofexile? Ifonly the immortal gods had put that intention into your head!” (Cicero, In Catilinam 1.22).

14. sit ergo haec contentio primum uerborum, inquo, etiamsi propius accedat ad consuetudinem mentemque sermonis defensoris definitio, tamen accusator sententia legis nitetur.

  • 35 OLD s.v. “mens” 7b; TLL s.v. “mens” 8.0.725.23-43. Cf. “mens carminis haec est” (“this is the inte (...)

“This would be primarily a dispute of wording in which, even if the definition of the defendant should come closer to the customary usage and intention/meaning of the term, still the accuser will rely on the meaning of the law” (Cicero, De Partitione Oratoria 124).35

18In 14, it seems that once again a noun that generally refers to the organ of mental activity has come, most likely by metonymical transference, to be applied to the intention or meaning of an inanimate grammatical subject (a word).

  • 36 On “sentire” and the nouns related to it, see in particular Morillon (1974) and Moussy (1999), 20- (...)
  • 37 On these, see OLD s.v. “sentio”; cf. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 10.1.123: “scias eum [Brutum] (...)

19It is not, however, the case that all of the expressions of meaning employed of human beings (in the intentional sense) could also be employed of things like words and texts. This is clearly demonstrated in the case of the Latin verb “sentire”, another verb of unclear etymology.36 Basic meanings include “to perceive”, “to be affected by”, “to hold or express a given belief or opinion”, and “to express one’s opinion”.37The verb could also be employed of human beings in senses such as the following, where it serves to articulate what the utterer meant as opposed to what he wrote:

15. cum aduersarius… aliud sensisse scriptorem, aliud scripsisse dicat.

  • 38 Cf. “turpe est aliud loqui, aliud sentire: quanto turpius, aliud scribere, aliud sentire” (“it is (...)

“Although the adversary says that the writer… meant one thing and wrote another” (Cicero, De Partitione Oratoria 134).38

  • 39 Some uses of “sentire” with inanimate grammatical subjects are noted in the LTL s.v. “sentio”, “De (...)

20Given what we have seen of “νοεῖν”, we might expect “sentire” to follow a similar pattern – that it would be applied to words and texts in the sense of “to mean” as well as human beings. The verb “sentire”, however, did not come to be used of words or texts with any regularity, and was generally used of animate grammatical subjects.39 Nevertheless, it provides us with an example of how the metaphorical transference that we noted in the case of the Greek verbs could occur: in the Noctes Atticae of Gellius, we can note “sentire” being used of words themselves:

16. item M. Cato in orationis principio, quam dixit in senatu pro Rodiensibus, cum uellet res nimis prosperas dicere, tribus uocabulis idem sentientibus dixit.

“In the same way, Marcus Cato, at the beginning of the speech which he delivered in the senate, In Defense of the Rhodians, when he meant that affairs were too prosperous, employed three words which mean (‘sentientibus’) the same thing” (Gellius, Noctes Atticae 13.25.13).

21Here, a verb of meaning generally only used of human beings is applied to words; if we take Gellius’ expression literally, Cato’s words think/intend (“sentire”) the same thing (“idem”). We should note two possible motivations for this exceptional usage: (a) the proximity of “sentientibus” to “uellet dicere” (used of Cato), which might have primed the expression, and (b) a desire on the part of Gellius to vary the vocabulary and to avoid repeating “uelle”. Even in the case of the verb “sentire”, then, we can see the possibility of its being applied to words arising in the late Classical period. This application of the verb “sentire” shows the flexibility of these verbs of mental agency and their general “willingness” to be applied to pieces of text; we shall see a different example of the inchoate transference of a term in the following section.

  • 40 We might compare the Latin noun “ratio”, related to “reor” (“to think”), which could have the sens (...)
  • 41 OLD s.v. “sensus” 9d: “the sense, meaning (of a word or words; also of a writer)”. On “sensus” in (...)

22While the verb “sentire” itself never came to be used in any frequency of what texts do in the Classical period, the nouns related to the Latin verb (“sensus”, “sententia”) clearly show the same tendency that we noted with “νόος”, “διάνοια” and “mens”.40 In the early Imperial period, for instance, the noun “sensus” could be used of both the meaning of an author (17) and lexical meaning (18):41

17. …saluo modo poetae sensu

  • 42 Cf. “sic sensus nostros clariores carminis arta necessitas efficit” (“even so the fettering rules (...)

“…with the poet’s meaning intact” (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 1.9.2).42

18. hic sensus uerbi, uis ea uocis erat.

  • 43 For the use of a longer piece of writing, see Gellius, Noctes Atticae 19.10.12: “…huiusce uersus s (...)

“This was the meaning of the word, this was the force of the expression” (Ovid, Fasti 5.484).43

  • 44 OLD s.v. “sententia” 7: “Sense, meaning. b the main purpose or drift of an author, writing, etc., (...)

23The noun “sententia”, which comes from the same root, displays an analogous double usage in a rhetorical context, as we can see from the following excerpts:44

19. ex scripto et sententia controuersia nascitur, cum uidetur scriptoris uoluntas cum scripto ipso dissentire...

“A controversy deriving from ‘text’ and ‘sense (i.e. meaning)’ is born when the intention of the writer seems to disagree with the letter of the text” (Rhetorica ad Herennium 1.19).

20. cum uerbum potest in duas pluresue sententias accipi.

“When a word can be taken in two or multiple senses” (Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.67).

  • 45 See Morillon (1974), 466-470. Cf. “ex scripto et sententia controuersia constitit, cum alter uerbi (...)
  • 46 Cf. “primum igitur uocabuli sententia breuiter et ad utilitatem adcommodate causae describitur” (“ (...)

24In excerpt 19 we see the noun being used of the intention of the author of a piece of writing,45 while in 20 we find it used of the meanings of a word.46 The noun is also used in phrases such as “in eandem sententiam” (“in the same sense”). In the modern languages, the tendency to employ what is, at its root, a noun of mental agency in order to describe what the text means is apparent in the usages of derivative words like “sens” (French), “senso” (Italian), and “sense” (English).

  • 47 OLD s.v. “intendo” 1and 2; TLL s.v. “intendo” 7.1.2113.10-44.
  • 48 OLD s.v. “intendo” 4; TLL s.v. “intendo” 7.1.2113.45-80.

25To close this section on expressions of mental activity, we might also consider the origins of a term crucial to modern literary criticism that was not in fact core to early classical discussions – “to intend”. The verb “intendere” gives us an important group of words in the modern European languages (French: “entendre”, Italian: “intendere”, English: “to intend”), but the sense of “to mean” was not prevalent prior to the second century AD. One of the basic meanings of the Latin verb is simply “to tighten”, “to bring in a state of tension”,47 but it could mean “to concentrate on” when used in conjunction with “animum”, “mentem”, and so on:48

21. ...nec semper intendunt animum, nonnumquam fatigantur, cum Ciceroni dormitare interim Demosthenes, Horatio uero etiam Homerus ipse uideatur.

“...nor do [authors] always pay attention – sometimes they become fatigued, since Demosthenes seemed at times to nod off to Cicero, and indeed Homer seemed to Horace to do the same” (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 10.1.24).

  • 49 OLD s.v. “intendo” 11; TLL s.v. “intendo” 7.1.2116.67-2117.12. “...qua postremo conlocatione id, q (...)

26The verb “intendere” could also take on the sense of “to aim at, purpose”, sometimes in conjunction with the ablative form of a noun such as “animus” (“mind”).49With Augustine, however, we can note the idea of authorial intention strongly coming through:

22. si enim de paginis poetae cuiuspiam longe aliud canentis atque intendentis, cum forte quis consulit, mirabiliter consonus negotio saepe uersus exiret...

“For if someone consulted by chance the pages of some poet, who sang of and intended something very different, as if by miracle averse that was pertinent to the business at hand would come out...” (Augustine, Confessiones 4.3.5).

  • 50 For example: (a) the French “j’ai mal entendu” (“I didn’t understand”) and “qu’est-ce que tu enten (...)

27A full history of the verb’s descendants would require a study all of its own: in the Romance languages the notion of “stretching one’s mind/attention” yielded the sense of “to hear/understand”, while the notions of “directing one’s efforts” and “aiming” continued to offer the sense of “to intend”.50

  • 51 Cf. “ipsius corporis intentionem quandam...” (“[they considered the soul to be] a certain tension (...)
  • 52 TLL s.v. “intentio” 7.1.2120.65-80. It is prominent in Augustine; for an instance of “scriptorum i (...)

28When it comes to the noun “intentio”, which Cicero used to describe a “tension”,51 we can already see adumbrations of the idea of authorial “intention” in classical Latin (23), although it is with Christian authors such as Tertullian (24) that we best get a sense of the term’s future usage:52

23. cum intentionem effectumque muneris nostri uellemus intellegi.

“Although we want the intention and effect of our gift to be understood” (Pliny, Epistulae 1.8.13).

24. sic habebit intentio et forma opusculi nostri...

“Such will be the intention and form of my little work...” (Tertullian, Aduersus Marcionem 4.6 Oehler).

  • 53 Cf. “Sed patet hoc esse contra intentionem Aristotelis” (“but it is obvious that this is against t (...)
  • 54 DML s.v. “intentio” 5a: “sense, meaning (of word, text, or sim.)”, with examples.
  • 55 On the usage of “intentio” as a translation for “ma’na”, see HWP s.v. “intentio”. Cf. Knudsen (198 (...)

29Servius, writing about Vergil’s intention in the preface of his commentary on the Aeneid, uses the term “intentio” in ways that correspond with how we use it today (see Chapter 1). In the Middle Ages, “intentio” could be employed of an author’s intent,53 as well as of the meaning of an individual word;54it was also used to translate the highly polysemous Arabic term “ma’na” (“concept”, “meaning”) employed by Avicenna and Averroes, which led to its taking up diverse meanings in Medieval philosophy.55

30The English verb “to intend”, derived from the French, has itself long been attested with words and texts a sits subject, even though it is generally used of what an utterer/author means. The Oxford English Dictionary records an obsolete usage of “to intend” of words and things, the following example dating from the year 1749:

  • 56 OED s.v. “intend”, v.20. b: “Of words, etc.: To mean, to signify; to indicate. Obs.”. The example (...)

25. “Whenever this word occurs in our writings, it intends persons without virtue or sense, in all stations; and many of the highest rank are often meant by it”.56

31The term could similarly be employed in the sense of “to mean” or “to signify” of the meanings of strings of words. While this usage has been declared no longer current by the OED, similar examples (such as “the text intends...”) are by no means uncommon in modern literary criticism, and it is certainly possible to use this particular term of pieces of writing without raising many eyebrows; the same can be said for the relevant noun:

26. “What does the note intend? What is its intention?”.

32Here we can see a usage of an expression of thinking in a manner reminiscent of the exchange between Dionysodorus and Socrates in Plato’s Euthydemus; we shall return to it in the final chapter of this book, but the key thing to note at this point is that even the English verb “to intend” can be used of both animate subjects and inanimate texts.

III. Expressions of Speaking

  • 57 The verbs “λέγειν”, “dicere”, “sonare”, and so on do not yield corresponding nouns that can be tra (...)
  • 58 OED s.v. “say” 4a: “Of words: To mean, signify”.

33A further group of expressions of interest for our study comprises verbs that relate to speech.57 The use of this kind of expression to describe the contents of a piece of writing is common enough in English:58

27. “The driver’s manual says...”.

28. “What do the words say?”.

  • 59 Cf. BT s.v. “secgan” I.a: “of words, to mean”.

34The locution is very old and is attested in Anglo-Saxon.59 Similar constructions are found in a variety of modern western languages. The phenomenon of speaking texts or words can also be found in Greek and Latin, although to a somewhat less pervasive degree, for example in the following excerpt from the Cratylus, where the verb “φθέγγεσθαι” (“to utter”, to say”) is employed in conjunction with “δύναµις” (see below):

29. καὶ ἕτερα ἂν ἴσως συχνὰ εὕροιµεν ταῖς µὲν συλλαβαῖς καὶ τοῖς γράµµασι διαφωνοῦντα, τῇ δὲ δυνάµει ταὐτὸν φθεγγόµενα.

“And we might find many other [names] that differ in their syllables and letters but say the same thing in terms of meaning” (Plato, Cratylus 394c).

  • 60 For the meaning of a law, compare “ἐὰν ἀγνοήσῃ τί λέγει ὁ νόµος...” (“if he [the dicast] is unawar (...)
  • 61 Ademollo (2011), 235-236, points out the rarity of the usage; for some potential examples: “ἀλλὰ µ (...)

35As we saw in the previous chapter, it is relatively common to see the verb “λέγειν” being used of a longer text, such as a law or a myth, in the sense of “the myth says”,60 even though the quoted examples of “λέγειν” being used of a word are something of an anomaly.61

  • 62 On the following, see Nickau (1994).
  • 63 LSJ s.v. “ἐπαγγέλλω” 5: “Med., profess, make profession of”.

36In one or two cases, however, we can see the transference occurring before our eyes. The use made by the grammarian Apollonius Dyscolus of the verb “ἐπαγγέλλεσθαι” would seem, for example, to provide us with a demonstration of how these verbs of speaking came to be transferred to take on the sense of “to signify”.62 Since Herodotus, the basic sense of the verb in the middle voice had been “to cause a proclamation to be made”,63 but in Apollonius’ grammatical works it could serve as a synonym for “σηµαίνειν” when describing what a word indicates:

30. τὸ “ἱππεύς”µετὰ τοῦ ἵππου καὶ ἀνδρὸς καὶ τέχνην ἐπαγγέλλεται.

  • 64 Cf. “τὸ [ὄνοµα] µὲν γὰρ ἀµοιρεῖ δείξεως, ποιότητά τε ἐπαγγέλλεται” (“the [noun] has no part of dei (...)

“The [name] ‘rider’ signifies alongside the horse and man a skill” (Apollonius Dyscolus, On Pronouns 30.16).64

  • 65 Ddtgg s.v. “ἐπαγγελία” records the usage of the noun in the sense of “signification” in Apollonius (...)
  • 66 LSJ s.v. “ὑπαγορεύω” ΙΙΙ: “imply, indicate without the use of a special word or form”; cf. “ἐσοµέν (...)

37In this example we can see a relatively late transference of a verb of announcing; when it takes a word a sits subject, “ἐπαγγέλλεσθαι” transforms into a verb of signification.65 While it is entirely possible that this transference was in part motivated by the double-usage of earlier expressions such as “λέγειν”, it may nevertheless provide us with an analogy by which to determine how the double-usage of verbs such as “βούλεσθαι”, “νοεῖν”, and “λέγειν” occurred in the first place. Other verbs of similar nature are used in this way by Apollonius; for example, “ὑπαγορεύειν” (“to dictate”, “suggest”) was employed by the grammarian of words and expressions in the senses of “to signify” or “to indicate”.66

  • 67 The verb is in fact related to vocabulary that corresponds to the English “to show”, although by t (...)

38The Latin verb “dicere” is also attested with words and texts a sits subject, although it was most frequently employed of animate subjects;67just like “λέγειν”, the verb could be translated as “to mean” in excerpts such as the following, where it figures in self-correction:

31. una in conuiuio
erat hic, quem dico...

  • 68 Cf. “non me dico, sed eram meam” (“I do not mean me, but my mistress” Plautus, Miles Gloriosus 103 (...)

“He was there at the party, the one I mean…” (Terence, Eunuchus 422-423).68

  • 69 TLL s.v. “dico” 5.1.989.27-43: “res personata”. Similar usages of texts (and other inanimate objec (...)

39One might compare the clarifications made by Servius in the previous chapter, where the word “dicit” is used in order to refer to what Vergil means. However, there are also certain examples that cohere with the usage found in English where the text can literally “say” something;69 here are Cicero and Ovid:

32. tum enim defendetur non id legem dicere, quod aduersarius uelit, sed aliud.

  • 70 Compare Accius, fr. 103 Warmington: “aperte fatur dictio, si intellegas” (“the response speaks pla (...)

“For sometimes it will be argued in defense that the law did not say what the adversary would want it to say, but something different” (Cicero, Topica 96).70

33. hoc deus, hoc uates, hoc et mea carmina dicunt.

  • 71 Cf. “si quid lene mei dicunt et dulce libelli...” (“if mylittle books say anything soft and sweet. (...)

“The god, poet, and my poems say this” (Ovid, Heroides 21.235).71

40It must be emphasized, however, that such examples are relatively infrequent. The unwillingness to use active finite verbs of speaking of things like words and texts stands in contrast with modern idiom.

  • 72 OLD s.v. “sono” 2: “(of human being). To give utterance”; cf. s.v. “sono” 9.
  • 73 OLD s.v. “sono” 9b: “to express, denote”.

41To conclude this section: the Latin verb “sonare” (literally, “to make a sound”), which could be used of human utterances (34),72 can be found used of words in the sense of “to mean” or “to denote” (35) from first century BC onwards:73

34. ait eos uoce inani sonare.

“He says that they made an utterance with an empty voice” (Cicero, De Finibus 2.48).

35. ...ut haec duo uerbo inter se discrepare re unum sonare uideantur.

“...with the result that these two things appear to differ in wording but in fact mean the same thing” (Cicero, De Officiis 3.83).

42The usage can be understood as having come about by analogy with the foregoing examples: if both human beings and texts can “dicere”, then it is presumably possible for them both to “sonare” (in the sense of “to make an utterance”).

IV. Passive Constructions

  • 74 Cf. Plato, Protagoras 344a: “ὅτι οὕτως εἴρηται” (“...that it means this”).

43While examples of active verbs of speaking that take a word or piece of text as their subject are fairly rare, from the fourth century onwards the passive forms of this group of verbs were frequently employed in Greek in order to elucidate the meanings of words. Thus, for example, the following instances from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics:74

36. ἔτι δ᾽ἐπεὶ “τἀγαθὸν” ἰσαχῶς λέγεται τῷ “ὄντι”...

  • 75 Cf. “τοσαυταχῶς δὴ λεγοµένου τοῦ ‘πιθανοῦ’...” (“the term ‘trustworthy’, then, is used in this man (...)

“Since then ‘the good’ has as many senses as ‘being’...” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1096a23-24).75

37. δῆλον οὖν ὅτι διττῶς λέγοιτ᾽ ἂν “τἀγαθά”…

  • 76 For “τριχῶς”, see e.g. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 7.137.

“It is therefore clear that “goods” should have two senses” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1096b13).76

38. ἀκολουθεῖ δ᾽ ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ, ἐὰν θάτερον πλεοναχῶς λέγηται, καὶ θάτερον πλεοναχῶς λέγεσθαι...

  • 77 Cf. “ἔτι ἐπεὶ πολλαχῶς τὸ ‘ποιεῖν’ λέγεται...” (“again, ‘to do something’ has several meanings” Ar (...)

“It follows in the majority of cases that if one of them is used in several senses, then the other is also used in several senses” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1129a23-25).77

  • 78 Cf. “τὸ νοούµενον κατὰ τὰς λέξεις” (“that which is meant with regard to a phrase” Epicurus, On Nat (...)
  • 79 This is the standard interpretation of “ὑποτεταγµένα” in this excerpt of the Letter to Herodotus; (...)

44Here we can see the passive form of the verb used in conjunction with an adverb specifying the number of senses at issue. Besides verbs of speaking, we might note that the Greek substantive “τὸ νοούµενον” could be also employed of the meaning of expressions, as could “νοητόν”; both are essentially passive and can be translated as “that which is thought”.78 Epicurus and Philodemus employ the term “ὑποτεταγµένα” (“the things placed under”) in order to describe the meanings set “under words”:79

39. πρῶτον µὲν οὖν τὰ ὑποτεταγµένα τοῖς φθόγγοις, ὦ Ἡρόδοτε, δεῖ εἰληφέναι...

  • 80 Cicero would translate this term as “subiectum” while discussing Epicurus: “...non intellegere int (...)

“First, Herodotus, it is necessary to grasp the things that are set under words...” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 10.37).80

45We shall return to this mode of situating the meanings of words “under” the words themselves in Chapter 8.

  • 81 For an instance of “significari” involving an external referent, see Asconius on Cicero, In Pisone (...)
  • 82 In the commentators, the “dictum” element could be left out (ellipsis); cf. Donatus on Terence, Ph (...)

46In Latin, we meet passive constructions that are formed from verbs of speaking and showing, such as “dicere” and “significare”.81 Thus, the verb “dicere” was frequently used in order to describe equivalences in meaning – for example, the expression “dictum pro” (“said for”) could mediate between the meanings of two words:82

40. praeter haec “superesse” inuenimus dictum pro “superstitem esse”.

“Besides these uses, we find ‘superesse’ with the meaning [i.e. said for] ‘superstitem esse’” (Gellius, Noctes Atticae 1.22.18).

  • 83 OLD s.v. “intellego” 1. Cf. Moussy (1999), 16-17.
  • 84 OLD s.v. “intellego” 6b: “to understand (a term), to mean”; 6c: “to understand (as the meaning of (...)

47In this excerpt we have the notion of lexical meaning communicated obliquely by means of the perfect passive participle. Another type of construction involved verbs of interpretation, such as “intellegere” and “accipere”, and here we see similar phenomena. The verb “intellegere” is attested early on in Latin literature in the sense of “to grasp mentally”, “understand”, “realize”,83 and its passive form could be used of what texts signified (in the following excerpt we see it paired with “uis”):84

41. totum igitur idquod quaerimus quid etquale sit, uerbi uis ipsa declarat. eos enim ‘sanos’ quoniam intellegi necesse est, quorum mens motu quasi morbo perturbata nullo sit...

“The meaning of the word, therefore, itself declares the entire nature and quality of that which we are investigating. For it is necessary that the ‘sanibe understood as those whose mind is disturbed by no motion like a disease” (Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes 3.11).

  • 85 On “uis”, see below.
  • 86 One may also note how speaker meaning could be communicated by means of a passive infinitive toget (...)
  • 87 OLD s.v. “intellectus” 5; TLL s.v. “intellectus” 7.1.2092.36-58.
  • 88 On this, see in particular Moussy (1999), 25-26.

48Cicero here essentially equates the “uis uerbi” with how the term is understood (“intellegi”):85 “it is necessary that it be understood” serves roughly the same function as “it means”.86 The noun “intellectus”, formed from the passive participle of “intellegere”, can also be translated as “signification”, “meaning”, “sense”.87 The first instances of the noun in this sense recorded by the TLL are from Seneca,88 but it is Quintilian who first used it broadly of words; typical are expressions such as the following:

42. uerba quoque quaedam diuersos intellectus habent, ut “cerno”...

“Certain words also have different meanings – ‘cerno’, for example…” (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 7.9.2).

49The verb “accipere” functions in much the same way: in general its active forms could be used in the sense of “to take as the meaning, understand”, while the passive ones could be translated as “to be taken as”:

43. “uerba” nunc generaliter accipi uolo: nam duplex eorum intellectus est.

  • 89 On this, see Moussy (1999), 16. Cf. Rhetorica ad Herennium 2.40: “item uitiosum est quod inaliam p (...)

“I meanuerba’[i.e. want uerba to be taken] here in a general way: for its meaning is double” (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 1.5.2).89

50This verb does not, however, yield a noun that could correspond to “meaning” in the way that “intellegere” does: the noun “acceptio” certainly existed in Latin from Cicero onwards, but is not translatable as “meaning” (it means roughly “a taking over, accepting, receiving”), in spite of the modern French noun “acception” (“meaning”, “significance”).

  • 90 OLD s.v. “interpretatio” 4: “The signification, meaning (of a word or expression)”; TLL s.v. “inte (...)

51In passing, we might also note that the noun “interpretatio” may also, at something of a stretch, be translated as “meaning”,90 as in the following excerpt from Cicero where it is paired with the expression “uis”:

44....mihi ad huius <uocis> uim et interpretationem uehementer opus est uestra sapientia.

“I have great need of your wisdom in giving the proper meaning and interpretation to this word” (Cicero, De Lege Agraria 2.7).

  • 91 Cf. OLD s.v. “interpretatio” 3. For example, concerning bad handwriting: “has quidem [litteras] po (...)
  • 92 OLD s.v. “interpretor”.

52Here, it seems as if “uis” and “interpretatio” are being used in roughly the same way, even though the one, literally speaking, concerns the “force” of the expression, the other its “interpretation”.91 The deponent verb, “interpretari”, is of course not used in the sense of “to mean” but conveys the sense of “to interpret”.92

  • 93 Οn this item, see Ddtgg s.v. “λεκτόν”; Mates (1973); Kneale & Kneale (1962), 139-145; Long (1974), (...)
  • 94 Cf. “‘non corpus’ inquit ‘est, quod nunc loquor, sed enuntiatiuum quiddam de corpore, quod alii “e (...)

53In closing this section on passive constructions, we should note a technical Stoic term that comes under further discussion in Appendix III.93 In order to mediate between the corporeal sound of a word (ἡ φωνή/τὸ σηµαῖνον) and the corporeal object referred to (τὸ τυγχάνον), the Stoics posited an incorporeal entity – τὸ λεκτόν. This word (“τὸ λεκτόν”) is a verbal adjective derived from “λέγειν” for which common translations are “what is said”, “sayable”, “proposition”, and “meaning”. Seneca preserves the Latin translations of “τὸ λεκτόν” as “enuntiatiuum”, “effatum”, “enuntiatum”, and “dictum”, while Augustine employed the term “dicibile” in his De Dialectica.94

V. Expressions of Equivalence

54The final type of verb that we need to survey (setting aside “σηµαίνειν” and “significare” for the time being) functioned in a different way: the group is comprised of (a) verbs such as “εἶναι” and “esse”, which correspond with the English verb “to be”, and (b) “δύνασθαι” and “ualere”/“posse”, which both relate to ability, power, or equivalence. They are included together here because of certain similarities in their dynamics. First, “εἶναι” can serve as a verb of meaning by acting as the copula between two items that both stand in the same case. Here is an example from Plato’s Cratylus:

45. τὸ γὰρ “εἴρειν”“λέγειν” ἐστίν.

  • 95 LSJ s.v. “εἰµί” VI.B; cf. Derveni Papyrus 10.2 Betegh: “ἐνόµιζε δὲ τὸ αὐτὸν εἶναι τὸ ‘λέγειν’ τε κ (...)

“For ‘εἴρειν’ isthe same as ‘λέγειν’” (Plato, Cratylus 398d).95

  • 96 The phrase “τουτέστι” (“that is”, “that means”) is to be found in the Homeric scholia.

55One also sees the expression “τοῦτ᾽ ἔστι” (“that is”) at the beginning of a parenthetical or clarifying statement.96 In Latin, we see a similar phenomenon involving the verb “esse” (“to be”):

46. “sagire” enim “sentire acute” est.

  • 97 OLD s.v. “sum” 18b. Cf. Gellius, Noctes Atticae 7.5.1: “quaesitumque est, quid esset ‘purum putum’ (...)

“For ‘sagire’means ‘sentire acute’” (Cicero, De Diuinatione 1.65).97

  • 98 Cf. Rusius’ quip on Sisenna’s coinage: “‘Sputatilica’, quid est hoc? ‘sputa’ quid sit scio,‘tilica (...)

56Just as in Greek, the phrase “hoc est” may serve to balance two sides of a semantic equation: both elements – the “hoc” (which refers back to the item to be clarified) and the subsequent explanation – stand in the same case and are described as being essentially the same thing.98 Notably, these basic items of vocabulary cannot be used as expressions of meaning when used of human beings: one does not use the phrase “Cicero est” (“Cicero is”) in order to describe what Cicero means. The formulation is replicated in English, as can be noted in the translations to the preceding examples.

  • 99 DELG s.v. “δύναµαι”; LfgE s.v. “δύναµαι”; Beekes s.v. “δύναµαι”.

57In the Homeric epics, the Greek verb “δύνασθαι” was usually accompanied by an infinitive and was routinely applied both to animate and inanimate subjects.99 Later on, however, it also took the sense of “to be equivalent to”, where there is no infinitive and the verb simply takes an accusative:

47. αὐτὴ δ᾽ ἐφ᾽ αὑτῆς σκοποῦσα τούς τε λόγους ἀφ᾽ ὑµῶν ὡς ἔργα δυναµένους κρινεῖ...

“[The city] itself will look into this, and will judge your words as if they are acts” (Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 6.40.2).

  • 100 LSJ s.v. “δύναµαι” II. 3: “of words, signify, mean”; Ddtgg s.v. “δύναµαι”; cf. Derveni Papyrus, 11 (...)

58Side by side with this, the extended senses of “to be worth” (when used of money) and “to mean, signify” (when employed of words) developed:100

48. ὁ δὲ σίγλος δύναται ἑπτὰ ὀβολούς...

  • 101 It is interesting that coinage, a technological development of the Archaic period, and words share (...)

“The siglos [a Lydian coin] is worth the same amount as seven obols...” (Xenophon, Anabasis 1.5.6).101

49. δύναται δὲ τὸ οὔνοµα τοῦτο κατὰ Ἑλλάδα γλῶσσαν “ἀνδροκτόνοι”.

“This name means ‘man-killers’ in the Greek tongue” (Herodotus, Histories 4.110.1).

  • 102 LSJ s.v. “δύναµαι” II.3.c: “of things, mean, spell”. Cf. “αἱ ἀγγελίαι τοῦτο δύνανται” (“the messag (...)
  • 103 LSJ s.v. “δύναµις” III: “force or meaning of a word”; Ddtgg s.v. “δύναµαι”. Plato uses it in close (...)

59In the authors of the fifth and fourth centuries BC, the word could also be used of what things, such as messages, meant.102 On analogy with this, later examples of the noun “δύναµις” (usually “power”, “ability”) can be translated as “meaning” when used to explain the value of a word:103

50. πολὺ γὰρ <ἂν> ἔργον ἦν τῷ νοµοθέτῃ ἅπαντα τὰ ὀνόµατα γράφειν ὅσα τὴν αὐτὴν δύναµιν ἔχει.

  • 104 Cf. Plato, Cratylus 394b.

“For it was too great a task for the lawmaker to write down all the names that have the same meaning” (Lysias, Against Theomnestus 7).104

  • 105 Cf. Sluiter (1997), 153.
  • 106 At Rhetoric 1405b6-8, Aristotle states the following: “κάλλος δὲ ὀνόµατος τὸ µέν ὥσπερ Λικύµνιος λ (...)
  • 107 Compare the nouns used by the later grammarians (e.g. Apollonius Dyscolus and the Etymologicum Mag (...)

60The sophist Hippias used the noun of letters and syllables, among other things, while Plato uses it of the value/meaning of a name.105 Aristotle uses “δύναµις” at times as a synonym for “τὸ σηµαινόµενον” (“that which is signified”).106 We therefore see a vocabulary for the meanings of words and texts establish itself on the basis of a verb that had been used in Homer to denote power or ability.107

  • 108 OLD s.v. “ualeo” 11b: “to mean, signify”; see Moussy (1999), 14-15.

61The Latin verb “ualere” corresponds with “δύνασθαι”;108 it could also be used in a monetary context, for example in Varro’s explanation of the word “denarius”:

51. denarii, quod denos aeris ualebant.

“[they are called] ‘denarii’ because they were worth ten bronze coins” (Varro, De Lingua Latina 5.173).

62But on the other hand it was also used in order to denote the meaning of specific words – and this usage is attested relatively early on in Latin literature (late second century BC):

52. “apud te” aliud longe est, neque idem ualet “ad te”.

  • 109 Cf. Lucilius, fr. 338 Marx = 401 Warmington.

“‘With you’ means something far different from ‘to you’” (Lucilius, fr. 1216 Marx = 399 Warmington).109

  • 110 Cf. Cicero, De Finibus 2.13; Tusculanae Disputationes 5.24; Varro, De Lingua Latina 6.58; 7.14.
  • 111 Moussy (1999), 19, suggests that it is a semantic calque. Bettini (2012), 104-106, argues that it (...)

63A number of similar examples can be found in the works of Cicero and Varro.110 In order to translate the Greek noun “δύναµις”, Latin authors used the term “uis”, the standard translation of which is “strength”, “force”.111 We can see it being used of the meaning of words from the Ciceronian age on, as in the following example:

53. satisne igitur uideor uim uerborum tenere?

  • 112 Cf. “quae uis sit istius uerbi” (“what is the meaning of this word?” Cicero, De Finibus 2.15); Cic (...)

“Do I seem, then, to grasp the meaning of the words sufficiently?” (Cicero, De Finibus 2.15).112

64In Cicero and Varro, however, we also see the noun used quite often of the meanings of complete texts:

54. post iudicem ad uim scripti uocet.

“Afterwards, he should recall the judge to the meaning of the text” (Cicero, De Partitione Oratoria 133).

  • 113 OLD s.v. “possum” 8c: “(of words) to have (a specified) force or meaning”; TLL s.v. “possum” 10.2. (...)

65The verb “posse” could serve as a synonym for “ualere” in this sense,113 and the two are linked in the following example:

55. quod uerbum censeo et arbitror idem poterat ac ualebat.

“I judge and believe that this word had the same meaning and force” (Varro at Nonius Marcellus 519 M).

  • 114 OLD s.v. “potestas” 8: “(of a word, law, etc.) Meaning, force, function”; cf. TLL s.v. “potestas” 1 (...)

66The redundancy of the use of “posse” and “ualere” mirrors the redundancy of the “censere” and “arbitrari” that had preceded: although the fragment lacks a context, Varro appears to be using synonyms in order to make his declaration emphatic. The noun “potestas”, as can be imagined, could serve much the same function as “uis”.114

  • 115 Cf. LSJ s.v. “δύναµαι” I: “to be able, strong enough to do”; OLD s.v. “ualeo” 1: “(of persons, par (...)

67We should mention one thing that these words have in common with “εἶναι” and “esse”: although these verbs can be used of human beings in their sense of “capability” and “strength”,115 neither “δύνασθαι” nor “ualere”/“posse” have the sense of “to intend” when they are used of the intentions of animate subjects. They did not originate from the vocabulary for human desire, thought, speech, or interpretation, but from a different semantic sphere entirely; we might compare certain modern nouns, such as “valence” and “force”. This, however, does not mean that their origins were not metaphorical; and indeed, given the chronological order of the senses of “δύνασθαι”, it would seem to be the case that the sense of “to mean” resulted from lexical transference.

VI. Conclusion

68Although we have yet to discuss one of the most important groups of verbs for our study (one that includes “σηµαίνειν” and “significare”), a number of statements can be made on the basis of the evidence that we have accumulated thus far. First, we have seen nothing to weaken our overall thesis that all the active verbs that we use in English to describe what texts do are also used of human beings, and have observed that this holds true for Greek and Latin as well. The verbs that we have looked at include ones of knowledge and perception, desire and volition, and equivalence and ability, but they can all also be used of people, even though the verbs of the final category (equivalence and ability) cannot be used of human beings in the sense of “to intend” (I-meaning). Second, a number of the nouns that we have considered reveal an analogous tendency, in that they can be used of both the meaning of an author and the meaning of the text that he or she produces. For example:

56. “νόος”, “διάνοια”
“βούλησις”
mens
sensus
sententia
uoluntas

  • 116 In fact, there is evidence that ancient authors tended to think of these nouns as applying to the (...)

69It appears that these nouns came to be attached to words and texts (i.e. without overt reference to a human being) either through metonymical transference or simply by ellipsis – the “διάνοια” originally referred to the “thought” of the person who used a term or phrase but later on came to be used of the decontextualized meaning of words.116 As a third observation, we may observe in passing that talking about “what the text means” is more economical than talking about “what the author of the text means”; note the following examples:

57. “The law meant that we should eat cabbage”.

58. “The authors of the law meant that we should eat cabbage”.

70It should be clear from a cursory glance that it is quicker and easier simply to leave the author out in both verbal and written discourse and to apply the verb or noun of meaning to the expression itself. The key thing is that this type of brachylogy can obscure where the meaning lies: when we say that “the text means something”, we may be either talking about what its author meant or about what the sentence means in terms of its compositionality – how the words are combined. We shall have more to say about this in the chapters to come.

Notes

1 I am particularly indebted to Telegdi (1977), Telegdi (1982), Brachet (1994), Sluiter (1997), Brachet (1999), and Moussy (1999). See now also DU s.v. “sense”. For the Greek vocabulary in Plato’s Cratylus, see Ademollo (2011), 233-237. For some isolated nouns that do not fall under these categories, see Appendix II.

2 For an overview, see Kluge s.v. “meinen” and the etymological section of OED s.v. “to mean”. My thanks to Tim Barnes for discussion of this issue.

3 ODEE s.v. “mean1”: “cf. IE *men (see mind)”. Cf. LIV s.v. “*men-”: “einen Gedanken fassen”.

4 LIV s.v. “*mei-”. Cf. AHDIR s.v. “*mei-no-”: “opinion, intention”.

5 Trier (1964); Trier (1981). Cf. Kluge s.v. “meinen”: “meinen ist ursprünglich ‘der Reihe nach, im Wechsel, seine Meinung äussern’”.

6 The examples are taken from BT s.v. “mǣnan” I: “of persons (a) to intend to convey a certain sense”; II: “(of things) to signify, have a certain signification or purpose”. Cf. BT s.v. “ge-mǣnan” I: “to MEAN, to signify; sibi uelle, significare”.

7 Compare a further example in the BT: “understandan hwæt ða twā word mǣnan, ‘abrenuntio’ and ‘credo’” (“to understand what these two words mean: ‘abrenuntio’ and ‘credo’”).

8 Schützeichel (2012), s.v. “meinen”. Cf. DWB s.v. “sinn” 16 (“thought”); 22 (“significance”): “in neuerer zeit ist sinn nur noch üblich und sehr gewöhnlich von der bedeutung, meinung, dem geistigen gehalte, der tendenz einer äußerung...”.
Compare the sentences, “es ist mir nicht in den Sinn gekommen” (literally: “it did not come into my mind”) and “der Sinn des Textes” (“the meaning of the text”).

9 For the modern verb, see the previous chapter. It is worth noting that in other Germanic languages (Icelandic, for example) the relevant cognate of “to mean” cannot be used as a verb of S-meaning. My thanks to Geir Thorarinsson for discussion of this.

10 Cf. “loqueris quantum uis et plus significas quam loqueris” (“you say as much as you mean, and you let on more than you say” Seneca, Epistulae 59.5).

11 OLD s.v. “uolo” 17; cf. “uota quid illa uelint...” (“what those prayers might mean...” Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.278); Seneca, Phaedra 1157-1158. Some instances where the verb is used of other types of inanimate subject: “quid uelint flores et acerra turis plena miraris...?” (“do you wonder what the flowers mean, and the casket full of incense?” Horace, Carmina 3.8.2-3); “quid uelit et possit rerum concordia discors” (“what is the meaning and what the effects of the inharmonious harmony of things” Horace, Epistulae 1.12.19); the usage is already current in Plautus (e.g. Mercator 253-254).

12 Compare the rather rare German phrase “der Text will sagen…”, where the metaphor is clear; cf. Gadamer (2000), 200: “Diese... Formulierung Heideggers will sagen, daß die Wahrheit (ueritas) durch die Gewißheit (certitudo) verdrängt wird”.

13 Albrecht Dihle has argued that the Greeks had no verb that corresponds with the English “will” (at least in the rather philosophical sense of the act of a distinct part of soul or mind): “During the period when the two verbs βούλοµαι and (ἐ)θέλω were still different in meaning, the first signified primarily the planning and reflecting which precedes action. The second only meant ‘to be disposed, to be prepared’”; Dihle (1982), 20; cf. Inwood (2000); Frede (2011). This is what the LfgE has tosay on the verb: “wünschen, mögen, wollen, Bed. spektrum zw. den Polen (1) Verlangen haben, etw. zutun od. geschehen zulassen (Impuls kommt in erster Linie vom Subj.) u. (2) bereit, willig sein, etw. zu tun oder geschehen zu lassen (Verhalten ist vor allem Reaktion auf von aussen kommenden Impuls)...”.

14 The instances collected in LfgE s.v. “ἐθέλω” pertain to gods, human beings, and animals – not to inanimate objects. We certainly read in Homer of a river (Xanthus) that does not want (“ἔθελε”) to run on (Homer, Iliad 21.366), but this is a sentient river with a will of its own; cf. LSJ s.v. “ἐθέλω”: “with neg., almost, = δύναµαι... metaph. of things, of a stream”. Similarly, the noun “θυµός” (“heart”) could be the grammatical subject of verbs of wishing and commanding, but in Homer this organ is described as possessing agency; cf. Pelliccia (1995). Compare Heraclitus 22B123 DK: “φύσις... κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ” (“nature likes to conceal herself”) and 22 B114 DK, where it appears that personification is likewise in play.

15 Powell (1960), s.v “ἐθέλω”. See Appendix I.

16 See Madden (1975); Neuberger-Donath (1975).

17 Cf. Chapter 1 (Plato, Theaetetus 156c). Further examples follow: “δηλοῖ δέ γε, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, καὶ ὁ νόµος ὅτι τοιοῦτον βούλεται, πᾶσι τοῖς ἐν τῇ πόλει σύµµαχος ὤν” (“and the law also shows that it has such a meaning, being the ally of all classes in the state” Plato, Republic 590e); cf. Plato, Republic 595c, etc. For use of a phrase: “ἀλλ᾽, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, φαίνεταί µοι βούλεσθαι λέγειν οὗτος ὁλόγος ὥς...” (“‘but it seems to me’ I said, ‘that this phrase means that...’” Plato, Republic 431a). For the meanings of writing and words, compare: “καλῶς συνῆκας ὅλον τὸ γράµµα ὃ βούλεται” (“you have grasped perfectly what the writing means” Plato, Parmenides 128a); “οὐκ ἐννοῶ ὄνοµα τί βούλεται” (“I do not know what the name [‘Tethys’] means” Plato, Cratylus 402c); see also Cratylus 395b, 410c, 436b (“βούλεται εἶναι”), and passim. On this usage in Plato, see Ewegen (2014), 24-26, 144-148. For later examples, cf. Aristotle, De Anima 427a25; Plutarch, Table Talk 747b: “ἐπεζήτησεν οὖν ὁ Θρασύβουλος τίβούλεται τοὔνοµα τῆς φορᾶς...” (“Thrasybulus inquired the meaning of the word ‘phrase’”).

18 OLD s.v. “uoluntas” 6.

19 OLD s.v. “uoluntas” 6.

20 LSJ s.v. “βούλησις”; cf. “βούληµα”.

21 For the noun used of the meaning of alonger text: “ἀλλὰ τὸν τύπον αὐτοῦ τὸν ὅλον διεξέλθωµεν καὶ τὴν βούλησιν, ὅτι παντὸς µᾶλλον ἔλεγχός ἐστιν τοῦ Πιττακείου ῥήµατος διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ᾄσµατος” (“but let us go through its [i.e. the poem’s] general gist and intention: it is assuredly above all, throughout the whole poem, a refutation of Pittacus’ saying” Plato, Protagoras 344b).

22 Cf. Kirk (1990), 119.

23 LSJ s.v. “νοέω” III: “νοέω δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς Ἕκτορά τοι λῦσαι” (“I am already minded/I already intend to ransom Hector to you” Homer, Iliad 24.560-561). On the early history of “νοεῖν”, see the influential but controversial work by Snell (1953), 1-22 (in the translation of T. G. Rosenmeyer); cf. Snell (1973), 183-184; von Fritz (1943), von Fritz (1945), von Fritz (1946); and Krischer (1984).

24 Cf. “τί διανοούµενος εἶπε” (“what he meant when he spoke” Plato, Theaetetus 184a); Plato, Phaedrus 263a; Protagoras 347b; Lesser Hippias 365d.

25 LSJ s.v. “νοέω” IV: “of words, bear a certain sense, mean”; cf. “ἐννοέω” VI: “of words, mean, signify”. Cf. “πειρώµεθα οὖν τὸν ‘Ἑρµῆν’ σκέψασθαι τί καὶ νοεῖ τὸ ὄνοµα” (“let us try to examine what the name ‘Hermes’ means” Plato, Cratylus 407e, etc.). For a usage in conjunction with “βούλεσθαι”, “δηλοῦν”, and “µηνύειν”, compare the following: “ἡ µὲν νέα φωνὴ ἡµῖν ἡ καλὴ αὑτηὶ καὶ τοὐναντίον περιέτρεψε µηνύειν τὸ ‘δέον’ καὶ τὸ ‘ζηµιῶδες’, ἀφανίζουσα ὅτι νοεῖ, ἡ δὲ παλαιὰ ἀµφότερον δηλοῖβούλεται τοὔνοµα” (“… this wonderful modern language of ours has switched ‘δέον’ and ‘ζηµιῶδες’ around, hiding what each means, so that each has the opposite of its original meaning, whereas the ancient language shows clearly what each word means” Plato, Cratylus 418b). For the usage of the verb “φρονεῖν” as a verb of S-meaning in prose (Thucydides), cf. LSJ s.v. “φρονέω” II: “mean, intend”.

26 For an object meaning something “to” someone (“νοεῖ αὐτῷ”), see Plato, Republic 335e.

27 DELG s.v. “νόος”; Frisk s.v. “νόος”; Beekes s.v. “νόος”; Krischer (1984), 141-149. For a summary of the usages in Homer and Aeschylus, see Sullivan (1997), 137-141.

28 Snell (1953), 13. LSJ s.v. “νόος” II: “act of mind, thought”; cf. Iliad 9.104: “οὐ γάρ τις νόον ἄλλος ἀµείνονα τοῦδε νοήσει” (“for no one will think a better thought than this”).

29 LSJ s.v. “νόος” III: “sense, meaning of a word, etc.”; see Appendix I. One should compare LSJ s.v. “γνώµη” III.5: “intention, purpose, resolve”: “...τῆς ξυµπάσης γνώµης τῶν ἀληθῶς λεχθέντων” (“...the general sense of the things said” Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 1.22).

30 This phrase is in fact sequestered by Hude, but the usage was certainly Herodotean; cf. Herodotus, Histories 1.216.4: “νόος δὲ οὗτος τῆς θυσίης” (“and this was the meaning of the sacrifice”).

31 LSJ s. v. “διάνοια” IV: “thought expressed, meaning of a word or passage”. On this word, see Eden (1987); Schironi (2009). Cf. “ἔννοια” (“intent”, “thought”, “sense of a word”), used frequently by Apollonius Dyscolus; “ἕκαστον δὲ αὐτῶν ἐξ ἰδίας ἐννοίας ἀνάγεται” (“each [part of speech] is used for its own proper meaning” Apollonius Dyscolus, On Syntax 1.39). LSJ s.v. “ὑπόνοια” II: “...deeper sense... esp. covert meaning (such as is conveyed by myths and allegories)”; “τὰς ὑπονοίας οὐκ ἐπίστανται” (“...they do not understand the deeper meaning” Xenophon, Symposium 3.6); cf. Plutarch, How to Study Poetry 19e. The term “ὑπόνοια” is an earlier equivalent of “ἀλληγορία”. Cf. Ford (2002), 72-73. LSJ s.v. “διανόηµα”: “pl., meanings of words”.

32 Cf....φράσαι τὴν ἐµὴν διάνοιαν” (“...to put my meaning into words” Plato, Alcibiades I 104e); “...καὶ τὴν τούτου διάνοιαν ἐκµανθάνειν,µὴ µόνον τὰ ἔπη” (“...and to learn his [the poet’s] meaning, not just the words” Plato, Ion 530b-c); on “διάνοια” in this passage, see Flashar (1958), 30-32. Compare also the following passage in the Ion, where the talk is however of “διανοίας περὶ Ὁµήρου” (“thoughts concerning Homer” Plato, Ion 530d); Hunter (2011), 36, brings out well the polysemy here – the word “διάνοια” could be used of the author’s “meaning” reflected within the text and the “thought” of the interpreter. For anon-Platonic example, cf. Isocrates, Panathenaicus 265: “...ἐπῄνεσα τήν τε φύσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν ἐπιµέλειαν, περὶ δὲ τῶν ἄλλων οὐδεν ἐφθεγξάµην ὧν εἶπεν, οὔθ᾽ ὡςἔτυχεν ταῖς ὑπονοίαις τῆς ἐµῆς διανοίας, οὔθ᾽ ὡς διήµαρτεν...” (“I praised his nature and training, but did not say anything concerning the things that he had said – neither how his conjectures had hit upon my intention nor how they had missed it”).

33 For other Platonic examples, see Cratylus 418a: “προστιθέντες γράµµατα καὶ ἐξαιροῦντες σφόδρα ἀλλοιοῦσι τὰς τῶν ὀνοµάτων διανοίας” (“by adding letters and taking them away they alter the meanings of words greatly”); cf. Plato, Cratylus 418c, etc. For Aristotle see, for example, “ἔοικε δὲ καὶ τὸ παρὰ τῶν Πυθαγορείων λεγόµενον τὴν αὐτὴν ἔχειν διάνοιαν” (“that which is said by the Pythagoreans seems to have the same meaning” Aristotle, On the Soul 404a17). For an example external to philosophy: “ἐγὼ δὲ οἶµαι ἡµᾶς, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, οὐ περὶ τῶν ὀνοµάτων διαφέρεσθαι ἀλλὰ τῆς τούτων διανοίας...” (“I believe, jurors, that we are not concerned with words but with their meanings” Lysias, Against Theomnestus 7).

34 Cf. Ddtgg s.v. “διάνοια”, “ἔννοια”, “νοῦς”. One might note that Epicurus used similar vocabulary: “τὸ πρῶτον ἐννόηµα καθ᾽ ἔκαστον φθόγγον” (“the primary concept corresponding to each word” Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 10.37-38); see Appendix III. The terms “ἐνθύµηµα” (generally “thought”, “piece of reasoning”) and “ἐνθύµια”, the neuter plural form of “ἐνθύµιος” could be contrasted with terms such as “λέξις” (“speech”) in the sense of “meaning” by later authors; cf. LSJ s.v. “ἐνθύµιος” II: “meaning”.

35 OLD s.v. “mens” 7b; TLL s.v. “mens” 8.0.725.23-43. Cf. “mens carminis haec est” (“this is the intention/meaning of the song” Aetna 28).

36 On “sentire” and the nouns related to it, see in particular Morillon (1974) and Moussy (1999), 20-23. On the etymology, see Morillon (1974), 1-3.

37 On these, see OLD s.v. “sentio”; cf. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 10.1.123: “scias eum [Brutum] sentire quae dicit” (“you would know that he [Brutus] believes what he says”).

38 Cf. “turpe est aliud loqui, aliud sentire: quanto turpius, aliud scribere, aliud sentire” (“it is base to say one thing and mean another; how much more base to write one thing and mean another” Seneca, Epistulae 24.19).

39 Some uses of “sentire” with inanimate grammatical subjects are noted in the LTL s.v. “sentio”, “De inanimis”: Vergil, Georgics 1.136 (river); Horace, Carmina 3.23.5 (vine); Livy, Historiae 9.37 (border); Pliny the Younger, Panegyricus 31 (grain supply); cf. Epistulae 2.17.22 (room). Also listed are examples from Pliny the Elder.

40 We might compare the Latin noun “ratio”, related to “reor” (“to think”), which could have the sense of the “definition” or “meaning” of a word; cf. “rationesque omnium uocabulorum... effutissem” (“I would have babbled out the meanings of all these terms...” Gellius, Noctes Atticae 2.22.25); “...‘superesse’ non simplici ratione dici” (“...that ‘superesse’ had more than one meaning” Gellius, Noctes Atticae 1.22.9). See OLD s.v. “ratio” 10b: “the purpose (of a statement, expression, etc.)”.

41 OLD s.v. “sensus” 9d: “the sense, meaning (of a word or words; also of a writer)”. On “sensus” in this sense, see Morillon (1974), 503-504. Cf. DU s.v. “sense”. For an interesting discussion of the later history of the word, see Lewis (1960), 133-164.

42 Cf. “sic sensus nostros clariores carminis arta necessitas efficit” (“even so the fettering rules of poetry clarify our meaning” Seneca, Epistulae 108.10); “id enim agendum est, ut non uerbis seruiamus, sed sensibus” (“we must not serve words but rather meanings” Seneca, Epistulae 9.20); Petronius, Satyricon 118.

43 For the use of a longer piece of writing, see Gellius, Noctes Atticae 19.10.12: “…huiusce uersus sensus” (“…the meaning of this verse”).

44 OLD s.v. “sententia” 7: “Sense, meaning. b the main purpose or drift of an author, writing, etc., substance, purport; the spirit as opposed to the letter of the law”. Cf. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 8.5.1: “‘sententiam’ ueteres, quod animo sensissent, uocauerunt” (“the ancients called what they thought with their mind ‘sententia’”). On “sententia”, see Morillon (1974), 462-470. The word is frequently attested in the intentional sense of “purpose” when embarking on an action: OLD s.v. “sententia” 2: “One’s thinking in respect of a future matter; purpose, intention”.

45 See Morillon (1974), 466-470. Cf. “ex scripto et sententia controuersia constitit, cum alter uerbis ipsis, quae scripta sunt, utitur, alter ad id, quod scriptorem sensisse dicet, omnem adiungit dictionem” (“a controversy between letter and intent occurs when one party makes use of the written words, while his adversary directs his entire speech towards that which he claims the author meant” Cicero, De Inuentione 2.121).

46 Cf. “primum igitur uocabuli sententia breuiter et ad utilitatem adcommodate causae describitur” (“first, then, the meaning of the word will be swiftly explained, in a manner that will be of service to the case” Rhetorica ad Herennium 2.17). For “sententia” used of meaning in translation: “dixit uersum Graecum eadem sententia qua etiam nos habemus Latinum:‘pereant amici, dum inimici una intercidant’” (“he spoke a Greek verse of the same meaning as that of a phrase we have also in Latin: ‘let our friends perish, so long as our enemies should die together with them’” Cicero, Pro Rege Deiotaro 25).

47 OLD s.v. “intendo” 1and 2; TLL s.v. “intendo” 7.1.2113.10-44.

48 OLD s.v. “intendo” 4; TLL s.v. “intendo” 7.1.2113.45-80.

49 OLD s.v. “intendo” 11; TLL s.v. “intendo” 7.1.2116.67-2117.12. “...qua postremo conlocatione id, quod intendimus, efficere possimus” (“[we must determine] finally by what word arrangement we might be able to effect our purpose” Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 8.3.41); “Monam insulam... redigere in potestatem animo intendit” (“he was determined to bring the island of Mona under Roman control” Tacitus, Agricola 18).

50 For example: (a) the French “j’ai mal entendu” (“I didn’t understand”) and “qu’est-ce que tu entends par là?” (“what do you mean by that?”); and (b) the Italian “ho inteso il senso delle tue parole” (“I understood the meaning of your words”) and “cosa intendi con questa parola?” (“what do you mean by this word?”).

51 Cf. “ipsius corporis intentionem quandam...” (“[they considered the soul to be] a certain tension of the body itself...” Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes 1.19). For the earlier rhetorical and logical usages, see HWRh s.v. “Intention”.

52 TLL s.v. “intentio” 7.1.2120.65-80. It is prominent in Augustine; for an instance of “scriptorum intentio” (“the intention of the writing”), see De Doctrina Christiana 3.4.17; for “lectoris intentio” (“the attention of the reader”), on the other hand, see De Doctrina Christiana 3.34.25.

53 Cf. “Sed patet hoc esse contra intentionem Aristotelis” (“but it is obvious that this is against the intention of Aristotle” Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 1a2æ50.1.40).

54 DML s.v. “intentio” 5a: “sense, meaning (of word, text, or sim.)”, with examples.

55 On the usage of “intentio” as a translation for “ma’na”, see HWP s.v. “intentio”. Cf. Knudsen (1982), 479: “‘Intention’ in the relevant sense is associated with two concepts that occur already in the writings of Al-farabi and Avicenna, where they are associated with the words ‘ma’qul’ and ‘ma’na’, both of which were translated into Latin as ‘intentio’”.

56 OED s.v. “intend”, v.20. b: “Of words, etc.: To mean, to signify; to indicate. Obs.”. The example is from Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749), provided by the OED. Compare also another example offered by the OED, where the emphasis is not on the meaning of a word but of an utterance: “What intend these plaints?” (1602).

57 The verbs “λέγειν”, “dicere”, “sonare”, and so on do not yield corresponding nouns that can be translated as “meaning”, save for the Stoic terms “τὸ λεκτόν”, “dicibile”, etc. (see below). The term “λόγος” could be used in the sense of “account” or “definition” of a word: cf. “ὁ λόγος δὲ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου κατὰ τοῦ τινὸς ἀνθρώπου κατηγορηθήσεται” (“the definition of ‘man’ will be predicated of an individual man” Aristotle, Categories 2a24-25); cf. Modrak (2001), 28.

58 OED s.v. “say” 4a: “Of words: To mean, signify”.

59 Cf. BT s.v. “secgan” I.a: “of words, to mean”.

60 For the meaning of a law, compare “ἐὰν ἀγνοήσῃ τί λέγει ὁ νόµος...” (“if he [the dicast] is unaware of the meaning of the law” Aristotle, Rhetoric 1375b18), Plato, Republic 604b, and the personification of the laws in the Crito.

61 Ademollo (2011), 235-236, points out the rarity of the usage; for some potential examples: “ἀλλὰ µὴν τοῦτό γε ὀλίγου αὐτὸ λέγει ὅτι...” (“why, it [the name] itself almost tells us that...” Plato, Cratylus 402c); “τάχα δὲ οὐκ ἂν τοῦτο λέγοι...” (“but perhaps it [the name “Poseidon”] does not mean this...” or “perhaps he [the namegiver] does not mean this…” Plato, Cratylus 402e); “ταῦτ᾽ οἶσθ᾽ ὅ τι λέγει;” (“do you know what that means?” Aristophanes, Knights 1041, cf. 1021); “τί τοῦτο λέγει, ‘πρὸ Πύλοιο’;” (“what does ‘πρὸ Πύλοιο’ mean?” Aristophanes, Knights 1059). For the interpretation of this last expression, compare Sommerstein (1981), 109: “what does that mean, ‘before Pylos’”, although see also Henderson (1998), 361: “what does he mean, ‘before Pylos’?”.

62 On the following, see Nickau (1994).

63 LSJ s.v. “ἐπαγγέλλω” 5: “Med., profess, make profession of”.

64 Cf. “τὸ [ὄνοµα] µὲν γὰρ ἀµοιρεῖ δείξεως, ποιότητά τε ἐπαγγέλλεται” (“the [noun] has no part of deixis and signifies a quality” Apollonius Dyscolus, On Pronouns 9.9).

65 Ddtgg s.v. “ἐπαγγελία” records the usage of the noun in the sense of “signification” in Apollonius Dyscolus. Cf. LSJ s.v. “ἐκφώνησις” II: “meaning, signification” (the usage is late).

66 LSJ s.v. “ὑπαγορεύω” ΙΙΙ: “imply, indicate without the use of a special word or form”; cf. “ἐσοµένην γὰρ ποιότητα τὸ ῥῆµα ὑπαγορεύει...” (“since words of this class indicate a future quality” Apollonius Dyscolus, On Syntax 1.106; cf. On Syntax 1.71).

67 The verb is in fact related to vocabulary that corresponds to the English “to show”, although by the Classical period it had come to mean “to speak”. For “loquor”, another important Latin verb of speaking, used of texts: “poema loquens pictura, pictura tacitum poema debet esse” (“a poem ought to be a painting that speaks; a painting ought to be a silent poem” Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.39); on this conceit, compare Plutarch, On the Glory of the Athenians 347a; OLD s.v. “loquor” 1c: “(of writers, books, documents, etc.)”.

68 Cf. “non me dico, sed eram meam” (“I do not mean me, but my mistress” Plautus, Miles Gloriosus 1039-1040).

69 TLL s.v. “dico” 5.1.989.27-43: “res personata”. Similar usages of texts (and other inanimate objects) can be found with regard to the verb “nuntiare” (“to announce”): cf. Cicero, Ad Atticum 5.21.2: “[litterae] tumultum nuntiantes” (“[a letter] declaring a tumult”). The use of “dicere” in the sense of “to signify” was also current in medieval Latin; cf. DML s.v. “dico” 10: “to signify, mean, imply”.

70 Compare Accius, fr. 103 Warmington: “aperte fatur dictio, si intellegas” (“the response speaks plainly, if you were to understand it”).

71 Cf. “si quid lene mei dicunt et dulce libelli...” (“if mylittle books say anything soft and sweet...” Martial 10.45.1); Martial 11.2.5-6.

72 OLD s.v. “sono” 2: “(of human being). To give utterance”; cf. s.v. “sono” 9.

73 OLD s.v. “sono” 9b: “to express, denote”.

74 Cf. Plato, Protagoras 344a: “ὅτι οὕτως εἴρηται” (“...that it means this”).

75 Cf. “τοσαυταχῶς δὴ λεγοµένου τοῦ ‘πιθανοῦ’...” (“the term ‘trustworthy’, then, is used in this many ways” Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 2.64); for an example of the adverb “κυρίως”, see Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 1.317.

76 For “τριχῶς”, see e.g. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 7.137.

77 Cf. “ἔτι ἐπεὶ πολλαχῶς τὸ ‘ποιεῖν’ λέγεται...” (“again, ‘to do something’ has several meanings” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1136b29-30); cf. LSJ s.v. “ποσαχῶς”: “esp. in how many senses?”.

78 Cf. “τὸ νοούµενον κατὰ τὰς λέξεις” (“that which is meant with regard to a phrase” Epicurus, On Nature 28 fr. 13 col. 5sup. 7-8 Sedley). The passive verb “νοεῖται” is attested in this sense; cf. Epicurus, On Nature 28 fr. 8 col. 4.5 and fr. 13col. 4.7 Sedley. See Chapter 3on “τὸ δηλούµενον” and “τὸ σηµαινόµενον”.

79 This is the standard interpretation of “ὑποτεταγµένα” in this excerpt of the Letter to Herodotus; see Long (1971), 119-121; for a counter-argument, see Glidden (1983), who takes the term “ὑποτεταγµένα” to refer to the external referents of language. See Appendix III. Cf. LSJ s.v. “ὑποτάσσω” II. 3: “of the content or meaning which underlies a writer’s words”. On the usage in Dionysius Halicarnassus, see de Jonge (2008), 53-59.

80 Cicero would translate this term as “subiectum” while discussing Epicurus: “...non intellegere interdum, quid sonet haec uox ‘uoluptatis’, id est quae res huic uoci subiciatur” (“...and yet he [Epicurus] sometimes does not understand what the word ‘pleasure’ means, that is to say the thing that is placed under the term” Cicero, De Finibus 2.6); note also the use of “sonare” here. Cf. De Finibus 2.48.

81 For an instance of “significari” involving an external referent, see Asconius on Cicero, In Pisonem 11: “profecto intellegitis P. Clodium significari” (“you know assuredly that P. Clodius is meant”); cf. “ossa reor dici” (“I believe that bones are meant” Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.394).

82 In the commentators, the “dictum” element could be left out (ellipsis); cf. Donatus on Terence, Phormio 1.4.7: “‘punctum’ pro ‘momento’...” (“‘punctum’ [is said] for ‘momento’...”).

83 OLD s.v. “intellego” 1. Cf. Moussy (1999), 16-17.

84 OLD s.v. “intellego” 6b: “to understand (a term), to mean”; 6c: “to understand (as the meaning of a term)”. TLL s.v. “intellego” 7.1.2098.64-2099.7.

85 On “uis”, see below.

86 One may also note how speaker meaning could be communicated by means of a passive infinitive together with a finite verb of wishing: “‘obtrectatio’ autem est ea quam intellegi ‘ζηλοτυπίαν’ uolo, aegritudo...” (“‘jealousy’, a term by which I mean ‘ζηλοτυπίαν’, is a sickness...” Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes 4.17).

87 OLD s.v. “intellectus” 5; TLL s.v. “intellectus” 7.1.2092.36-58.

88 On this, see in particular Moussy (1999), 25-26.

89 On this, see Moussy (1999), 16. Cf. Rhetorica ad Herennium 2.40: “item uitiosum est quod inaliam partem ac dictum sit potest accipi” (“likewise, that is flawed which can be taken in a different way than that in which it was said”).

90 OLD s.v. “interpretatio” 4: “The signification, meaning (of a word or expression)”; TLL s.v. “interpretatio” 7.1.2255.13-25. The noun is from the deponent verb “interpretari”, itself derived from “interpres” – a noun of obscure etymology, one of whose meanings was “one who explains or expounds, an interpreter”; see OLD s.v. “interpres” 3.

91 Cf. OLD s.v. “interpretatio” 3. For example, concerning bad handwriting: “has quidem [litteras] pol credo nisi Sibulla legerit, interpretari alium posse neminem” (“by Jupiter, I believe that no-one would be able to understand these letters, unless it should be the Sibyl reading them” Plautus, Pseudolus 25-26).

92 OLD s.v. “interpretor”.

93 Οn this item, see Ddtgg s.v. “λεκτόν”; Mates (1973); Kneale & Kneale (1962), 139-145; Long (1974), 131-139; Graeser (1978); Sluiter (1990), 63-65; Frede (1994); Schenkeveld & Barnes (1999), 197-213. Long & Sedley (1987), 1.195-202, provide the key sources with discussion. As Schenkeveld & Barnes (1999), 198, note, the term was already used in the fifth century in Attic comedy in the sense of “the sort of thing that might be said (by somebody)”.

94 Cf. “‘non corpus’ inquit ‘est, quod nunc loquor, sed enuntiatiuum quiddam de corpore, quod alii “effatum” uocant, alii “enuntiatum”, alii “dictum”...’” (“‘what I say’, he says, ‘is not a body, but rather some kind of enuntiatiuum concerning a body, which others call by turns “effatum”, “enuntiatum”, “dictum”’” Seneca, Epistulae 117.13; I use the standard spelling of “enuntiatiuum”); Augustine, De Dialectica 5: “quidquid autem ex uerbo non aures sed animus sentit et ipso animo tenetur inclusum, ‘dicibile’ uocatur” (“anything that the mind rather than the ears perceives from a word, and which is held within the mind, is called ‘dicibile’”).

95 LSJ s.v. “εἰµί” VI.B; cf. Derveni Papyrus 10.2 Betegh: “ἐνόµιζε δὲ τὸ αὐτὸν εἶναι τὸ ‘λέγειν’ τε καὶ ‘φωνεῖν’” (“and he [i.e. Orpheus] considered ‘to say’ and ‘to utter’ to be the same”).

96 The phrase “τουτέστι” (“that is”, “that means”) is to be found in the Homeric scholia.

97 OLD s.v. “sum” 18b. Cf. Gellius, Noctes Atticae 7.5.1: “quaesitumque est, quid esset ‘purum putum’” (“it was inquired as to the meaning of ‘purum putum’”). This is heavily used by grammarians such as Nonius Marcellus (in whose notes the “est” was often simply left out).

98 Cf. Rusius’ quip on Sisenna’s coinage: “‘Sputatilica’, quid est hoc? ‘sputa’ quid sit scio,‘tilica’ nescio” (“what doessputatilicamean? I know what ‘sputa’ is, but have no idea about ‘tilica’” Cicero, Brutus 260); cf. “id est” (“that is/means”).

99 DELG s.v. “δύναµαι”; LfgE s.v. “δύναµαι”; Beekes s.v. “δύναµαι”.

100 LSJ s.v. “δύναµαι” II. 3: “of words, signify, mean”; Ddtgg s.v. “δύναµαι”; cf. Derveni Papyrus, 11.5-7 Betegh.

101 It is interesting that coinage, a technological development of the Archaic period, and words share this verb. One might compare the adjective “ἄσηµος” (“without a mark or token”), which was used by Herodotus of uncoined gold or bullion but which also came to mean “without significance, meaningless” (LSJ s.v. “ἄσηµος” III. b); see von Reden (1995), 173-174; Kurke (1999), especially 41-64.

102 LSJ s.v. “δύναµαι” II.3.c: “of things, mean, spell”. Cf. “αἱ ἀγγελίαι τοῦτο δύνανται” (“the messages mean this much” Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 6.36).

103 LSJ s.v. “δύναµις” III: “force or meaning of a word”; Ddtgg s.v. “δύναµαι”. Plato uses it in close conjunction with “διάνοια” (in the sense of “meaning [of a word]”) at Critias 113a, which suggests that he conceived of the terms as relatively synonymous in this context; cf. Ademollo (2011), 175-177. Compare the use of “ἀξίωσις” (roughly, “worth”) at Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 3.82.4: “καὶ τὴν εἰωθυῖαν ἀξίωσιν τῶν ὀνοµάτων ἐς τὰ ἔργα ἀντήλλαξαν τῇ δικαιώσει. τόλµα µὲν γὰρ ἀλόγιστος ἀνδρεία φιλέταιρος ἐνοµίσθη...” (“they even altered the accustomed meaning of words at will; reckless boldness was judged selfless virtue...”).

104 Cf. Plato, Cratylus 394b.

105 Cf. Sluiter (1997), 153.

106 At Rhetoric 1405b6-8, Aristotle states the following: “κάλλος δὲ ὀνόµατος τὸ µέν ὥσπερ Λικύµνιος λέγει, ἐν τοῖς ψόφοις ἢ τῷ σηµαινοµένῳ, καὶ αἶσχος δὲ ὡσαύτως” (“[metaphors should be also derived from things that are beautiful,] the beauty of a word consisting, as Licymnius [a fifth-century poet] says, in its sound or sense, and its ugliness in the same”). Very soon afterwards (1405b18), the philosopher replaces “τῷ σηµαινοµένῳ” with “τῇ δυνάµει”.

107 Compare the nouns used by the later grammarians (e.g. Apollonius Dyscolus and the Etymologicum Magnum): LSJ s.v. “ἰσοδυναµία” 2: “equivalence in meaning”; “περικράτησις” II: “prevailing signification”. Compare the relevant entries in the Ddtgg.

108 OLD s.v. “ualeo” 11b: “to mean, signify”; see Moussy (1999), 14-15.

109 Cf. Lucilius, fr. 338 Marx = 401 Warmington.

110 Cf. Cicero, De Finibus 2.13; Tusculanae Disputationes 5.24; Varro, De Lingua Latina 6.58; 7.14.

111 Moussy (1999), 19, suggests that it is a semantic calque. Bettini (2012), 104-106, argues that it has pragmatic and not merely semantic force; one might note in support of his case that Augustine (De Dialectica 7) describes the uis of an expression in terms of its ability to “move” the audience by its meaning, sound, or both in unison.

112 Cf. “quae uis sit istius uerbi” (“what is the meaning of this word?” Cicero, De Finibus 2.15); Cicero, De Optimo Genere Oratorum 14; Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 2.3: “res ipsa, de qua agitur, aliquo signanda nomine est, quod appellationis Graecae uim debet habere, non faciem” (“the thing itself, with which we are dealing, must be designated by some name, which ought to have the meaning although not the appearance, of the Greek term”).

113 OLD s.v. “possum” 8c: “(of words) to have (a specified) force or meaning”; TLL s.v. “possum” 10.2.147.82-148.8.

114 OLD s.v. “potestas” 8: “(of a word, law, etc.) Meaning, force, function”; cf. TLL s.v. “potestas” 10.2.312.45-313.5.

115 Cf. LSJ s.v. “δύναµαι” I: “to be able, strong enough to do”; OLD s.v. “ualeo” 1: “(of persons, parts of the body, etc.) To be physically powerful, to have strength”.

116 In fact, there is evidence that ancient authors tended to think of these nouns as applying to the intention of a human being in the first instance rather than to the independent meaning of an object or text. When contrasting the letter of a written document with the intention of the individual who wrote it, for example, the relevant noun for “meaning” is generally applied to the author: “...καὶ τὴν τούτου διάνοιαν ἐκµανθάνειν, µὴ µόνον τὰ ἔπη” (“...and of apprehending his meaning, not just his words” Plato, Ion 530b-c); “...καὶ τὸ µὴ πρὸς τὸν νόµον ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὴν διάνοιαν τοῦ νοµοθέτου” (“...not to the letter of the law but to the meaning of the legislator” Aristotle, Rhetoric 1374b12-13); “τὴν διάνοιαν ἀφεὶς πρὸς τοὔνοµα διελέχθη” (“ignoring the meaning, he quibbled about words” Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.52); “...neque enim uos scripti sui recitatores, sed uoluntatis interpretes fore putauit” (“...nor did he consider you to be the recitors of his law but rather the interpreters of his intention” Cicero, De Inuentione 2.139; cf. Cicero, De Inuentione 2.137, 2.140).

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