V. 54 N. 2 (2016)

A proposito di dicae e faciae (Quint. Inst. I 7,11; IX 4,39)

Francesco Rovai
Università di Pisa

Pubblicato 2016-12-23

Parole chiave

  • word-final nasal,
  • Latin orthography,
  • Latin palaeography


In two passages of his Institutio Oratoria (Inst. I 7,11; IX 4,39), Quintilian mentions a practice of Cato the Elder, who wrote dicae and faciae (or dice and facie) in the place of the classical forms dicam and faciam. Quintilian’s citation triggered a long-standing controversy regarding the interpretation of these forms, also as a consequence of two different readings in the manuscript tradition. Some scholars accept the readings dice and facie, and trace them back to variant first-person forms in the future indicative of the third conjugation (*dicem and *faciem – not otherwise attested) that are spelled without the final ‹m›. Other scholars, instead, accept the readings dicae and faciae, and regard them as an orthographic convention in order to indicate the articulatory weakness of /m/ in word-final intervocalic position. This paper discusses and compares the two competing views, claiming that the former, which is undermined by several critical issues, should be dismissed in favour of the latter, which can also be supported by some palaeographic evidence.


Francesco Rovai
Dipartimento di Filologia, Letteratura e Linguistica
Università di Pisa
Via Santa Maria 36
56126 Pisa (Italy)