Our volume Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in Latin Literature is the subject of a new review up at Bryn Mawr Classical Review:
What do law and soup have in common? While the answer is not immediately obvious in English, it becomes evident when we switch languages. The Latin word ius is ambiguous between the meanings ‘law’ and ‘soup,’ an ambiguity that Cicero uses strategically to liken Verres’ law (ius Verrinum) to hog soup (ius verrinum).
This example from the introduction of the new volume Quasi labor intus, a collection of papers dedicated to American priest Reginald Foster (beloved by generations of students for his quirky spoken-Latin summer courses in Rome), demonstrates that ambiguity and puns are important devices to create humour. However, unlike puns, ambiguity is not restricted to humorous language; as an inherent feature of language in general it pervades all forms of communication. Acknowledging the fact that ‘ambiguity is a widespread and varied phenomenon of thought and language’ (p. xxviii), the editors Michael Fontaine, Charles McNamara, and William Michael Short have commissioned 13 papers that cover many genres and centuries and feature a diversity of literary and linguistic approaches to the phenomenon of ambiguity.
The reviewer writes that QLI stands as a “welcome and significant contribution to the growing debate on ambiguity in antiquity.” Head over to BMCR to read the rest.