Vol. 52 No. 1 (2014)

Synaesthesia in Latin Poetry

Irene De Felice
University of Pisa

Published 2014-06-30


  • linguistic synaesthesia,
  • Latin linguistics,
  • metaphors,


The main purpose of this study is to explore linguistic synaesthesia in Latin poetic language. Through the analysis of a poetic corpus, which consists of works of Catullus, Horace, Lucretius, Ovid, Vergil, all occurrences of twenty Latin synaesthetic adjectives (previously extracted by Aeneid and De Rerum Natura) were retrieved; all lemmas co-occurring with these adjectives in nominal phrases were then classified into the following categories according to their meaning in context: monoaesthetic, synaesthetic (touch, temperature perception, taste, smell, sight, motion perception, hearing), pseudo-synaesthetic (i.e. psycho-moral), abstract. The research not only shows how much linguistic synaesthesia is present in Latin poetry, but also demonstrates that Latin synaesthesias comply with cross-linguistic tendencies, especially with regard to the hypothesis of directional hierarchy.