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

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 51812
Date: 2008-01-22

On 2008-01-22 18:56, alexandru_mg3 wrote:

> I don't care about any of Weiss' speculations, once Seneca (Sr.) that
> was a native Latin speaker, clearly explains the situation:
> I need to quote Seneca again for that ones that skip his words:
> Seneca the Elder
> ----------------
> (Controv. 7.4)
> "Erat enim parvolus statura propter
> quod etiam Catullus
> in hendecasyllabis vocat illum
> salaputium disertum
> "
> So Seneca Sr. says that it means a "runt" or small fellow, which is
> good enough
> Based on what Seneca said, the semantism of salapu:tium goes together
> with praepu:tium

I'll just let Weiss speak:

"But it should be clearly noted that Seneca's discussion of the meaning
of <salaputium> does not have the value of an independent witness. He
cites no other text in support of the meaning he gives to <salaputium>,
and the argument procedes from the fact of Calvus' shortness to the
meaning of <salaputium> and not from the meaning of <salaputium> to
Calvus' shortness. That the real meaning of <salaputium>, which,
whatever its ultimate explanation, was undoubtedly a somewhat slangy
word of limited occurrence, should have been lost to Seneca, born as he
was in Corduba thirty years after Catullus, seems to me probable. The
extremely evanescent nature of hip language is well-known and readers
may verify this for themselves if they only think about the many
"in-words" of their own high school days that are now incomprehensible
to their students. Seneca then is merely the first in a long line of
interpreters of Catullus 53. Possibly, he arrived at his interpretation
by combining the apparently well-known facts about Calvus' height
deficit with a folk-etymological connection between <salaputium> and
<putus> 'boy'. Since Seneca's day some commentators have been more or
less content to follow Seneca's lead, making explicit the connection
with <putus>."


PS I would't mind it at all if <salapu:tium> did have some obscene
conotations and were a deliberate allusion to <praepu:tium>. It would
only strengthen my point that *pu:t-something was a slangy word familiar
to Classical Latin writers (even if they didn't use it in their works).
-- P.