Thursday, December 15, 2011

Appetitive: Sarcasm in Latin

I really enjoyed the version of Sallust's Bellum Catilinae we read in class. It's the version that was edited by J.T. Ramsey. His commentary is useful, if sometimes overabundant. I found a number of different things in the commentary amusing, one of which is that there is apparently a word that introduces a sarcastic remark in Latin. The word appears in Caesar's speech at 51.10: Scilicet is supposed to taken as sarcastic. It denotes something similar where it is used in Cato's speeches. Initially I read the word as a direct verbal indicator of sarcasm which I thought was a pretty cool idea. Obviously this is not quite the case, but it has that essential value in Sallust-- or at least in the speeches.

The value kinds of reminds me of the times when Socrates (as the Platonic character of course) uses terms of great affection for his interlocutors. The wilder the affection, the less Socrates respects the argument being made by his interlocutors.

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