R. MALTBY: The Influence of Stoic Tradition on Varro

Robert Maltby (University of Leeds, Great Britain)

The Influence of the Greek Stoic Tradition on the Etymological Theory of Varro

The aim of the lecture is to is to set out Varro’s etymological theory, as found in the De Lingua Latina, to compare it with that of his Greek predecessors, especially the Stoics, whom he names most frequently as his sources, and to conclude with a few words on the originality and modernity of Varro’s approach, which does not appear to adhere closely to any philosophical school, but takes what it needs from all the sources available to him, philosophical and grammatical, Greek and Latin, to be blended into a truly coherent and yet completely idiosyncratic whole. The main points of the discussion will touch on Varro’s attitude to Stoic views on the relation of names to things, the identity and role of Varro’s name-givers, and the importance of natura and utilitas in the Varronian name-giving process. Comparisons will be made with the Epicurean view on etymology and language development that would have been available to Varro through the De natura Deorum of Lucretius, and its influence on Varro’s final linguistic synthesis.