Analinguistic Reflections

Politian, Miscellanies 1.2:

Valerius Catullus says in a certain epigram:

With that very tongue of yours, if you ever needed to, you could lick assholes and leather shoes.

Many have asked but no one yet has explained what carpatinae or carbatinae or crepidae are. Each of these are right, but even carbasinae is sometimes found. Certain literary hacks and charlatans remove this word and substitute who knows what: either cercopythas or coprotinas, words which they got from the pigpen and not from school; mere words, hollow names, the sounds of nothing. I will whip out from my Greek tool box (as if drawing from the pantry) authorities not to be despised or distrusted, by which the reading can be laid out unharmed and shaken free of interpretive fog.

First of all, Julius Pollux himself in his ninth book for Commodus says that carbatinas are a kind of rustic shoes whose name was derived from the Carians. Aristotle, in Book II of On the History of Animals, says that camels wear leather shoes so that they aren’t tired out by long military marches. There are four incredibly elegant little books in Greek called the Poemenicon, in the second of which a certain old man is introduced wearing a pouch and leather shoes. Lucian, in his dialogue called Alexander or The False Prophet says that some orators from Paphlagonia wore leather shoes. Xenophon, the follower of Socrates, says in the third book of his Anabasis, “When there old shoes were no longer any good, they had leather shoes (carbatinas) made from fresh hides.” Suidas cites this passage (while ignoring the author). Indeed, some commentator or other on Xenophon says that carbatinae are barbarian shoes.

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