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Priscian: A Syntactic Interpretation of a Graeco-Roman World

Gatto, Biagio; (2021) Priscian: A Syntactic Interpretation of a Graeco-Roman World. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Priscian is an emblematic figure of the Graeco-Roman world of late antiquity; my study focuses on the ability of grammar to account for socio-cultural factors. In the first chapter, the reading of the preface to Priscian’s Ars places him within an established cultural framework in which Greek sources are seen as a foundation of knowledge for any kind of Latin study. The linguistic approach taken by Priscian to describe Latin grammar reflects the beliefs and the expectations of his readership, and the status of standard language as perceived by the contemporary elites. Priscian’s work is evidence of the importance placed by the elites on knowledge of both Greek and Latin as a means to gain prestige and respectability in the competitive society of late antiquity. In the second and third chapters, a metalinguistic analysis of the last two books of the Ars, the De constructione, provides an insight into Priscian’s method of transferring Greek elements into Latin, and helps us to shape his audience. Priscian did not merely accomplish a grammatical work; in describing and codifying the grammar of a language he synthesised a vision of a world. The fourth and fifth chapters offer a close analysis of the linguistic data used by Priscian to describe Latin syntax, namely literary quotations, and exempla ficta. They reflect a codified standard written language which had become by the sixth century a mark of distinction for elites, despite the spoken language taking different developments. Elites in Constantinople considered this language deeply shaped by Greek grammar, a fact that provides guidance for the interpretation that elites had of their identity. The pairing of Latin with Greek syntax enables Priscian and his readers to bridge differences on issues concerning identity and provides us with a key for understanding the idea of the Graeco-Roman world of sixth century.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Priscian: A Syntactic Interpretation of a Graeco-Roman World
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Greek and Latin
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130475
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