Daedala lingua: crafted speech in De Rerum Natura

TitleDaedala lingua: crafted speech in De Rerum Natura
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHolmes, B
Ancient AuthorsTitus Lucretius Carus (PHI 0550)
JournalAmerican Journal of Philology

This article examines the creation of words in "De Rerum Natura" through a close reading of two extended passages concerning the problem of where words come from and what they do. The first is the account of speech production, work entrusted to the "daedala lingua" in Book 4. This physiological process is mimicked at the phylogenic level in the discussion on the origins of language in Book 5, where voice is first shaped by a body responding to the impact of objects, then by utilitas. The adjective daedalus and the intervention of utilitas both signal, I argue, a shift away from an understanding of language as reaction towards an understanding of language as fabrication, a shift with important implications for the relationship of words to the world they represent. [http://www.jstor.org/stable/3804874]


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