Quintilian, The Orator's Education

LCL 124: 188-189

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nm1 quod veritas exigit, sequentis syllabae sono victum, m gemina commutatur).


Est et in dividendis verbis observatio, mediam litteram consonantem priori an sequenti syllabae adiungas. ‘Haruspex’ enim, quia pars eius posterior a spectando est, s litteram tertiae dabit, ‘abstemius’, quia ex abstinentia temeti composita vox est, primae relinquet.


Nam k quidem in nullis verbis utendum puto nisi quae significat etiam si2 sola ponatur. Hoc eo non omisi quod quidam eam quotiens a sequatur necessariam credunt, cum sit c littera, quae ad omnis vocalis vim suam perferat.


Verum orthographia quoque consuetudini servit ideoque saepe mutata est. Nam illa vetustissima transeo tempora, quibus et pauciores litterae nec similes his nostris earum formae fuerunt et vis quoque diversa, sicut apud Graecos o litterae, quae interim longa ac brevis, ut apud nos, interim pro syllaba quam nomine suo exprimit posita 12est: ut a Latinis veteribus d plurimis in verbis ultimam adiectam esse3 manifestum est etiam ex columna rostrata, quae est Duilio in foro posita, interim g quoque, ut in pulvinari


Book 1.7

demands, gives way to the sound of the second syllable, and is changed in to a double m).

In dividing words also, one has to consider whether a middle consonant belongs to the preceding syllable or the following one: in haruspex, the second part of which comes from specto, the s belongs to the third syllable; whereas in abstemius, which is a compound meaning abstinentia temeti,9 the s stays with the first syllable.

As for k, my view is that it should not be used in any words except those which it stands for even if it is put by itself.10 I mention this because some hold that it is obligatory when a follows, although we possess c, which is capable of passing its force on to any vowel.

But orthography too is the servant of Usage, and has therefore often undergone change. I pass over the earliest period, when there were fewer letters and the shapes were different from ours, and also the value. Thus in Greek the letter o was sometimes long and short (as with us) and sometimes stood for the syllable which its name expresses;11 just as the fact that in old Latin writings d was added at the end of many words12 is established by the column with the beaks of ships erected in honour of Duilius in the Forum;13 so some times also is g, as in vesperug on the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.quintilian-orators_education.2002