A Note on Varro and Etymologiae a Contrariis
Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 B.C.) has often been accused of propagating etymologies from contraries, e.g., war (bellum) is so called because it is not pretty (bellum). The facts prove otherwise, however, for he adduces only two such etymologies in his De Lingua Latina; one he rejects entirely, and the other he merely transmits. The mistaken attribution of etymologiae a contrariis to Varro derives from a misreading of Marcus Fabius Quintilian’s (c.5–100 A.D.) memorable diatribe against etymological excess wherein Varro can be guilty of formulating etymologiae a contrariis only by a false and unwarranted associatio.
Published online: 28 June 2016
Colson, F[rancis] H[enry]
Del Bello, Davide
Goetz, Georg & Friedrich Schoell
Kent, Roland G.