Thursday, August 5, 2010

Word of the Day

I'm often asked about my use of profanity in The Golden Mean, especially the word "fuck". Now (say sceptics, hands on their hips, smiling doubtfully), the ancients didn't really speak that way, did they? Did they? Surely my use of that term is anachronistic at best, terminally vulgar at worst?

"Bineo" responded the ancient Greek linguistics specialist whom I consulted about the ancient use of profanity, vulgarity, and basically every word your mother didn't raise you to use, young lady, thank you very much. That's the ancient Greek equivalent of "fuck", with all its modern connotations. For those who remain sceptical, I recommend Jeffrey Henderson's The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Attic Comedy. Thorough, serious, and scholarly, this book also features one of the most eye-popping academic indices you will ever enjoy. Entries include Crepitation, sound effects for; Exhibitionism in Iambic Poetry; Horsemanship as metaphor; Nautical metaphors; Perversion; Piercing; Satyr-drama; Scatology in Sicilian comedy; Scatophagy; Urination as theme; and my personal favourite: Obscenity, scholarly neglect of.

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