Thursday, January 19, 2006

An Uncommon Word?

While I was reading Proba's Cento today, I came across the half-line

facies inmania cete,

which is from Aeneid 5.22. I had to look cete up--it's a neuter plural from the noun cetos (the 'e' is long) and is a direct transliteration of the Greek noun khtos (with 'h' representing eta--sorry, no Greek font), and means 'a sea-monster'. I only have Lewis' Elementary Latin Dictionary in front of me right now, and Vergil is the only classical author cited as having used this noun, which is where Proba got it from, as I mentioned above. Does anyone recall seeing this noun used elsewhere by classical or late antique authors?


caelestis said...

On-line Lewis & Short, s.v. cetus, cites Pliny, Plautus, and Vitruvius, et al., in addition to Vergil.

bmulligan said...

If I remember correctly, cete appears at least a few times in post-Vergilian epicists: Valerius Flaccus, Statius (Achilliad) and esp. Silius Italicus. It also appears, as could be expected, very frequently in late antique biblical exegesis (Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine), esp. on Jonah.

eric said...

Thanks folks! It seems as though I've seen it somewhere before, so maybe it was in one of those spots.