Pedantry vs. Sanctioned Solecism

Suetonius, de Grammaticis et Rhetoribus 22.1-3

“Marcus Pomponius Marcellus was the most irritating enforcer of proper Latinity. Once, when he was serving as an advocate (for he took on a case now and then), he persisted in arguing about a solecism committed by his opponent for so long that, Cassius Severus interrupted the judges and asked for a recess so that his litigator could get another grammarian ‘since he does not think that the controversy against his adversary will be about the law, but about a solecism.’

This same Marcellus had once criticized a word in a speech of the emperor Tiberius, and when Aetius Capito asserted that the word was actually Latin or, if it hadn’t been, certainly would be now that Tiberius had used it. Marcellus responded, ‘You lie, Capito. For you, Caesar, can give citizenship to people, but not to a word.”

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M. Pomponius Marcellus sermonis Latini exactor molestissimus, in advocatione quadam—nam interdum et causas agebat—soloecismum ab adversario factum usque adeo arguere perseveravit quoad Cassius Severus, interpellatis iudicibus, dilationem petiit ut litigator suus alium grammaticum adhiberet ‘quando non putat is cum adversario de iure sibi sed de soloecismo controversiam futuram.’ hic idem cum ex oratione Tiberii verbum reprehendisset, adfirmante Ateio Capitone et esse illud Latinum et si non esset futurum certe iam inde, ‘Mentitur,’ inquit, Capito. tu enim, Caesar, civitatem dare potes hominibus, verbo non potes.’

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