Re: *pu:tium prea-pu:tium sala-pu:tium

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 51808
Date: 2008-01-22

On 2008-01-22 17:01, fournet.arnaud wrote:

> I have in Meillet :
> salaputt-ium [with 2 -tt-] "a midget, a dwarf"
> Is it the word you are talking about ?

Yes. It's a hapax legomenon, occurring only once, in Catullus 53. In the
manuscripts we find <salapantium> <salapputium> and <salaputtium>; the
first has been explaines as a mistaken reading of <salapa\u/tium>, i.e.
<salapatium> corrected to <salaputium>. The last reading has generally
been accepted by modern editors as the final emendation. The /u:/ is
long. The Oscan-looking cognomen <Salaputis> (whose purely Latin
equivalent would have been something like *Salpu:tius) confirms the reading.

If Weiss is right -- and his argumentation is very convincing -- the
meaning 'midget', deduced from the context, is completely wrong. The
line in question should be translated roughly thus: "Great gods, what
eloquent REFOINMENT!" (making fun of Calvus's substandard accent). Of
course Catullus was never averse to a dirty joke and if the word
*pu:t... 'penis' was in use at the time, there _may_ be an extra oscene
pun on that, but we just can't be sure. Soemtimes you can suspect double
entendre but can't prove it. When somebody mentions "kicking against the
pricks" in Modern English, is it just a Biblical quotation or an obscene