Reference : Pliny the Elder: which language for which science?
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Classical & oriental studies
Pliny the Elder: which language for which science?
Fantoli, Margherita mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > > LASLA >]
12th London Ancient Science Conference
Institute of Classical Studies
[en] Pliny the Elder, Comets, Language, Seneca, Aristotle
[en] The lack of vocabulary and structures of Latin for scientific writing is well known and a widely discussed issue. The solutions found by each author give a hint into their conception and approach to the subject treated. This is the case of Pliny the Elder, whose language has been criticized for a long time as “bad Latin” (since Norden’s harsh judgment in his Die antike Kunstprosa), while recent studies have highlighted how certain particularities of Pliny’s prose can be explained in the light of the particular necessities of his work.
This paper’s aim is to discuss the language and style employed by Pliny the Elder in the second book of his Naturalis Historia (Astronomy). Thanks to the combination of statistical data (obtained thanks to the lemmatization and morphosyntactic tagging of this book) and traditional stylistic and linguistic analysis, it is possible to gain some precise information on the most outstanding characteristics of Pliny’s astronomical language (largely nominal, lacking of subordination, cumulating specific particles), and, successively, to interpret them. In particular, the focus is on the section dealing with ‘comets' (XXII-XXXVII). The comparison to analogous sections in the Aristotle’s Meteorology and Seneca’s Naturales Quaestiones helps to point out the most specific features of Pliny’s prose.

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