Metaphor in Latin Descriptions of Reading and Meaning


  • Andreas T. Zanker Amherst College


Latin metaphors. Metaphor theory. Reading and meaning.


In this article, metaphors for reading and meaning in Latin are considered from the perspective of conceptual metaphor theory. The focus is on (1) ascriptions of agency and personhood to inanimate entities such as words, texts, and books, and how the notions of (2) the container and (3) the path help to structure Latin descriptions of the relationship between words and ideas. The article closes with a case study of the noun intentio. By demonstrating the existence of these metaphors in Latin (building on previous scholarship), the article augments the historical and transcultural evidence for conceptual metaphor theory, further substantiates the theory’s explanatory value, and illustrates the dangers of taking English metaphors of meaning and intention inherited from Latin at face value.


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