In Aeneis commentary (left-below) it is written:

Male explicant: armatum virum; sed disiungenda sunt haec duo vocabula, ut disiunxit Tasso quum diceret: Canto l'arini pietose e 'l capitano; si vero arma memorantur, praesertim arma horrentia Martis, necessaria est belli cogitatio.

If I understand correctly, the above rejects wrong interpretation of "arma virumque" which does not divide between the words. like "armed man" or "armatum virum". This seem to suggest, at least theoretically, that the interpretation of armed man is possible. However, I find it rather quite basic grammar to reject that interpretation. Am I wrong in my understanding of the passage, or the interpretation of "armed man" is really possible?


I think both the literal reading "man and arms" and the more creative reading "armed man" are justified at superficial level. The second one does indeed look weird, but is based on a figure of speech called hendiadys. (There are slightly different forms of this concept. I learned to call it hendiadyoin.)

The name of this figure of speech means "one through two". A typical example is something like "heat and water" standing for "hot water". Or in general, "X and Y" for "Y with X". In this specific case, "man and arms" can be read as "man with arms" or "armed man".

Of course, the context and a deeper study can rule out one reading or the other. But one should be open to the possibility of a two-for-one deal when reading Latin literature.

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