November 9, 2010

Tullius Tiro

TULLIUS TIRO was the pupil and freedman of Marcus Cicero and an assistant in his literary work. He wrote several books on the usage and theory of the Latin language and on miscellaneous questions of various kinds. Pre-eminent among these appear to be those to which he gave the Greek titleπανδέκται, 1 implying that they included every kind of science and fact. In these he wrote the following about the stars which are called the Suculae, or “Little Pigs”: 2 “The early Romans,” says he, “were so ignorant of Grecian literature and so unfamiliar with the Greek language, that they called those stars which are in the head of the Bull Suculae, or 'The Little Pigs,' because the Greeks call them ὑάδες; for they supposed that Latin word to be a translation of the Greek name becauseὕες in Greek is sues in Latin. But the ὑάδες,” says he, “are so called, οὐκ ἀπὸ τῶν ὑῶν (that is, not from pigs), as our rude forefathers believed, but from the word ὕειν; for both when they rise and when they set they cause rainstorms and heavy showers. And pluere, (to rain) is expressed in the Greek tongue by ὕειν.

So, indeed, Tiro in his Pandects. But, as a matter of fact, our early writers were not such boors and [435] crowns as to give to the stars called hyades the name of suculae, or “little pigs,” because ὕες are called sues in Latin; but just as what the Greeks call ὑπέρ we call super, what they call ὕπτιος we callsupinus, what they call ὑφορβός we call subulcus, and finally, what they call ὕπνος we call first sypnus, and then, because of the kinship of the Greek letter y and the Latin o, somnus—just so, what they call ὑάδες were called by us, first shades, and then suculae.

But the stars in question are not in the head of the Bull, as Tiro says, for except for those stars the Bull has no head; but they are so situated and arranged in the circle that is called the “zodiac,” that from their position they seem to present the appearance and semblance of a bull's head, just as the other parts, and the rest of the figure of the Bull, are formed and, as it were, pictured by the place and location of those stars which the Greeks call πλειάδες and we, Vergiliae.

1 Literally, all-embracing.
2 pp. 7 ff. Lion.

The Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius. With An English Translation. John C. Rolfe. Cambridge. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1927.

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, Book XIII, IX, section 1
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 小説・エッセイ・詩の英語へ