aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Macrobius, Saturnalia 3.15.1-2

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Macrobius investigates some fishy names.

quos Murenas cognominatos, quod hoc pisce effusissime delectati sint, satis constat. huic opinioni M. Varro consentit adserens eodem modo Licinios appellatos Murenas quo Sergius Orata cognominatus est, quod ei pisces qui auratae vocantur carissimi fuerint.

It is agreed that these people have been surnamed ‘Murena’ because they took a most extravagant delight in this fish. Marcus Varro is in agreement with this opinion, when he says that the Licinii were called ‘Murenae’ in the same way that Sergius Orata got his surname, because those fish which are called ‘goldfish’ were most dear to him.

Orata is an alternative spelling for Aurata; the fish called ‘aurata’ is literally a ‘golden fish’. The ‘murena’ was likewise a type of fish, of which, to quote Lewis and Short’s dictionary, ‘the ancients were very fond’.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 14, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Macrobius

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