Quintus Valerius Soranus
Quintus Valerius Soranus (b. circa 140–130 BC, d. 82 BC) was a Latin poet, grammarian, and tribune of the people in the Late Roman Republic. He was executed in 82 BC while Sulla was dictator, ostensibly for violating a religious prohibition against speaking the arcane name of Rome, but more likely for political reasons. The cognomen Soranus is a toponym indicating that he was from Sora.
A single elegiac couplet survives more or less intact from his body of work. The two lines address Jupiter as an all-powerful begetter who is both male and female. This androgynous, unitarian conception of deity, possibly an attempt to integrate Stoic and Orphic doctrine, has made the fragment of interest in religious studies.
Life and political career
Cicero has an interlocutor in his De oratore praise Valerius Soranus as “most cultured of all who wear the toga,” and Cicero lists him and his brother Decimus among an educated elite of socii et Latini; that is, those who came from allied polities on the Italian peninsula rather than from Rome, and those whose legal status was defined by Latin right rather than full Roman citizenship. The municipality of Sora was near Cicero's native Arpinum, and he refers to the Valerii Sorani as his friends and neighbors. Soranus was also a friend of Varro and is mentioned more than once in that scholar's multi-volume work on the Latin language.
The son of Q. Valerius Soranus is thought to have been the Quintus Valerius Orca who was praetor in 57 BC. Orca had worked for Cicero's return to public life and is among Cicero's correspondents in the Epistulae ad familiares (Letters to Friends and Family).
Cicero presents the Valerii brothers of Sora as well schooled in Greek and Latin literature, but less admirable for their speaking ability. As Italians, they would have been lacking to Cicero's ears in the smooth sophistication (urbanitas) and faultless pronunciation of the best native Roman orators. This attitude of social exclusivity may account for why Valerius Soranus, whose scholarly interests and friendships might otherwise suggest a conservative temperament, would have found his place in the civil wars of the 80s on the side of the popularist Marius rather than that of the patrician Sulla. It might also be noted that Cicero's expression of this attitude is double-edged: like Marius and the Valerii Sorani, he was also a man from a municipium, and had to overcome the same obstructing biases that he adopts and expresses.
|“||The tribune Valerius Soranus dared to disclose this name, according to Varro and many other sources. Some say he was haled in by the senate and strung up on a cross; others, that he fled in fear of retribution and was apprehended by a praetor in Sicily, where he was killed by order of the senate.||”|
Servius's account presents several difficulties. Crucifixion was a punishment generally reserved for slaves in the Late Republic; Valerius Maximus, a historian in the early Principate, reckoned that the punishment should not be inflicted on those of Roman blood even when they "deserved" it. Moreover, a tribune's person was by law sacrosanct. Finally, it is unclear whether the ten tribunes should possess the knowledge of Rome's secret name, or in what manner Soranus would have publicized it. Among sources earlier than Servius, both Pliny the Elder and Plutarch note that Valerius Soranus was punished for this violation. It has been suggested that the name was revealed in his one work for which a title is known, the Epoptides. The title, if interpreted as it sometimes is to mean "tutelary deities," offers an apt context. But elsewhere Servius — so too Macrobius — implies that the name remained unrecorded.
Quintus Valerius Soranus has been identified with the Q. Valerius, described as philologos and philomathes (“a lover of literature and learning”), whom Plutarch says was a supporter of Marius. This man was put to death by Pompey in Sicily, where he would have accompanied Carbo, the consular colleague of the recently murdered Cinna. Carbo was executed by Pompey.
In 1906, Conrad Cichorius published an article that organized the available evidence for the life of Valerius Soranus and argued that his execution was a result of the Sullan proscription in 82. The view of his death as politically motivated has prevailed among modern scholars:
|“||His death was thus the result of being proscribed (as a supporter of Marius), and has nothing to do with religious issues of any kind. At the same time, we know that Soranus wrote works of a religious-antiquarian kind, as well as verse, and was often cited by Varro. This link with Varro must be the reason for associating the revelation of Rome's secret name with Soranus' violent death, for, as we saw, it is Varro whom Servius cites as his authority for linking the death with the revelation.||”|
But if Varro originated the story, his reasons are hard to tease out of the roiled politics of the Late Republic. Although Varro was the friend of Valerius Soranus, in the civil war of the 40s he was on the side of the Pompeians; Caesar, however, not only pardoned him, but gave him significant appointments. The biases of the contemporary sources were not lost on Plutarch in his account of the killing:
|“||Furthermore, Caius Oppius, the friend of Caesar, says that Pompey treated Quintus Valerius also with unnatural cruelty. For, understanding that Valerius was a man of rare scholarship and learning, when he was brought to him, Oppius says, Pompey took him aside, walked up and down with him, asked and learned what he wished from him, and then ordered his attendants to lead him away and put him to death at once. But when Oppius discourses about the enemies or friends of Caesar, one must be very cautious about believing him.||”|
Speaking the name could be construed as a political protest and also an act of treason, as the revelation would expose the tutelary deity and leave the city unprotected. This belief rests on the power of utterance to "call forth" the deity (evocatio), so that enemies in possession of the true and secret name could divert the divine protection to themselves. The intellectual historian of the Republic Elizabeth Rawson ventured cautiously that Soranus's "motive remains unclear, but may have been political." More vigorous is the view of Luigi Alfonsi, who argued that Soranus revealed the name deliberately so that the Italian municipalities could appropriate it and break Rome's monopoly of power.
Another interpretation of these events, worth noting despite its fictional context, is that of historical novelist Colleen McCullough, who melds political and religious motives in a psychological characterization. In Fortune's Favorites, McCullough's Soranus “screams aloud” the arcane name because the atrocities committed during the civil war had rendered Rome unworthy of divine protection:
|“||Rome and all she stood for would fall down like a shoddy building in an earthquake. Quintus Valerius Soranus himself believed that implicitly. So having told air and birds and horrified men Rome's secret name, Soranus fled to Ostia wondering why Rome still stood upon her seven hills.||”|
The single couplet that survives from Valerius Soranus's vast work as a poet, grammarian, and antiquarian is quoted by St. Augustine in the De civitate Dei (7.9) to support his view that the tutelary deity of Rome was the Capitoline Jupiter:
Iuppiter omnipotens regum rerumque deumque
progenitor genetrixque deum, deus unus et omnes …
The syntax poses difficulties in attempts at translation, and there may be some corruption of the text. It seems to say something like "Jupiter All-powerful, of kings and the material world and of gods the Father (progenitor), the Mother (genetrix) of gods, God that is One and All … ." Augustine says that his source for the quotation is a work on religion (now lost) by Varro, with whose conception of deity Augustine argues throughout Book 7 of the De civitate Dei. The view of Varro, and presumably of Soranus, was that Jupiter represents the whole universe which emits and receives seeds (semina), encompassing the generative powers of Earth the Mother as well as Sky the Father. This unitarianism is a Stoic concept, and Soranus is usually counted among the Stoics of Rome, perhaps of the contemporary school of Panaetius. The unity of opposites in deity, including divine androgyny, is also characteristic of Orphic doctrine, which may have impressed itself on Stoicism.
The couplet may or may not come from the Epoptides. The title is mentioned only in Pliny, and none of the known fragments of Soranus can be attributed to this large-scale work with certainty. Soranus's innovation in providing a table of contents — most likely a list of capita rerum ("subject headings") at the beginning — suggests that the Epoptides was an encyclopedic or compendious prose work. Alternatively, the Epoptides may have been a long didactic poem. Soranus is known to have written didactic poetry and is likely to have been an influence when Lucretius chose verse as his medium for philosophical subject matter.
The most extensive argument regarding the Epoptides is that of Thomas Köves-Zulauf. Much of what can be conjectured about the work derives from the interpretation of its title. The Greek verb ἐποπτεύω (epopteuo) has the basic meaning of "to watch, oversee" but also "to become an ἐπόπτης (epoptes, "initiate," feminine epoptis and plural epoptides)," the highest grade of initiate at the Eleusinian mysteries. Köves-Zulauf argued that Soranus's Epoptides was an extended treatment of mystery religions, and the title is sometimes translated into German as Mystikerinen. The classicist and mythographer H.J. Rose, on the contrary, insisted that the Epoptides had nothing to do with initiates. Elizabeth Rawson held with Initiated Women; the Loeb Classical Library offers Lady Initiates; Nicholas Horsfall is satisfied with The Watchers.
Köves-Zulauf maintains that the epoptides of the title represent the Stoic conception of female daimones who are guardians of humanity, such as the Hours (Horae) and the Graces (Charites). Soranus integrates this concept, he says, with the Tutelae, ancient Italic protective spirits. The crime of Soranus was thus to reveal in this work the name of the Tutela charged with protecting Rome.
- Alfonsi, L. "L'importanza politico-religiosa della enunciazione di Valerio Sorano (a proposito di CIL I² 337)." Epigraphica 10 (1948) 81-89. Argues that Valerius Soranus should be identified with Valerius Aedituus, a poet from the circle of Lutatius Catulus, and that he revealed the name of Rome to disrupt the exclusivity of the Roman aristocracy and enable the participation of the Italic communities.
- Brown, John Pairman. Israel and Hellas, vol. 2. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1995, pp. 247–250 on Valerius Soranus.
- Cichorius, Conrad. “Zur Lebensgeschichte des Valerius Soranus.” Hermes 41 (1906) 59–68. The most thorough biographical reconstruction. English abstract in American Journal of Philology 28 (1907) 468.
- Courtney, Edward. “Q. Valerius (Soranus).” The Fragmentary Latin Poets. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993, pp. 65–68. ISBN 0-19-814775-9 Edition with commentary and biographical note. Courtney refrains from identifying some recognized fragments of Soranus's work as poetry and thus omits them. See Funaioli and Morel following.
- De Martino, Marcello. L'identità segreta della divinità tutelare di Roma. Un riesame dell'affaire Sorano. Roma: Settimo Sigillo, 2011.
- Funaioli, Gino. Grammaticae romanae fragmenta, vol. 1. Leipzig: Teubner, 1907. Testimonia and fragments of Valerius Soranus's grammatical works, pp. 77–79.
- Horsfall, Nicholas. “Roman Religion and Related Topics.” Review of Thomas Köves-Zulauf, Kleine Schriften, ed. Achim Heinrichs (Heidelberg 1988). Classical Review 41 (1991) 120-122.
- Klinghardt, Matthias. “Prayer Formularies for Public Recitation: Their Use and Function in Ancient Religion.” Numen 46 (1999) 1–52. On the case of Valerius Soranus, pp. 43–45.
- Köves-Zulauf, Thomas. "Die Ἐπόπτιδες des Valerius Soranus." Rheinisches Museum 113 (1970) 323-358. Reprinted in the author's Kleine Schriften, ed. Achim Heinrichs (Heidelberg 1988). Argument summarized under Literary works.
- Morel, Willy, with Karl Büchner and Jürgen Blänsdorf. Fragmenta poetarum Latinorum epicorum et lyricorum praeter Ennium et Lucilium. 3rd edition. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1995. Contains fragments of Valerius Soranus not presented in Courtney.
- Murphy, Trevor. “Privileged Knowledge: Valerius Soranus and the Secret Name of Rome.” In Rituals in Ink: A Conference on Religion and Literary Production in Ancient Rome (Stuttgart 2004), pp. 127–137. ISBN 3-515-08526-2 Rehearses sources for nomen transgression, with a stated interest in the significance of the story rather than its historicity. Some misapprehensions in handling primary source material.
- Niccolini, Giovanni. I fasti dei tribuni della plebe. Milan 1934. Section on Valerius Soranus, pp. 430–431.
- Rüpke, Jörg. Religion of the Romans. Translated and edited by Richard Gordon. Cambridge: Polity, 2007. ISBN 0-7456-3014-6 Discusses the case of Valerius Soranus (p. 133) in his consideration of Rome's tutelary deity.
- Weinstock, Stefan. Review of Die Geheime Schutzgottheit von Rom by Angelo Brelich. Journal of Roman Studies 40 (1950) 149–150. Passing consideration of the likely political character of Valerius Soranus's execution, valuable mainly because of Weinstock's auctoritas.
- Conrad Cichorius, “Zur Lebensgeschichte des Valerius Soranus,” Hermes 41 (1906), p. 67; American Journal of Philology 28 (1907) 468.
- T.R.S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, vol. 2, 99 B.C.–31 B.C. (New York: American Philological Association, 1952), p. 68.
- Conrad Cichorius, “Zur Lebensgeschichte des Valerius Soranus,” Hermes 41 (1906) 59–68, remains the most thorough discussion of the evidence; English abstract in American Journal of Philology 28 (1907) 468.
- Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1982, 1985 printing), entry on "Soranus," p. 1793.
- Jaime Alvar, “Matériaux pour l'étude de la formule sive deus, sive dea,” Numen 32 (1985), pp. 259–260.
- Edward Courtney, The Fragmentary Latin Poets (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 66–68; Attilio Mastrocinque, "Creating One's Own Religion: Intellectual Choices," in A Companion to Roman Religion, edited by Jörg Rüpke (Blackwell, 2007), p. 382.
- Pliny the Elder, preface 33, Historia naturalis; John Henderson, “Knowing Someone Through Their Books: Pliny on Uncle Pliny (Epistles 3.5),” Classical Philology 97 (2002), p. 275.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, De oratore 3.43: litteratissimum togatorum omnium.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Brutus 169.
- Cicero, Brutus 169: vicini et familiares mei; Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 34.
- Marcus Terentius Varro, De lingua latina 7.31, 7.65, 10.70; Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae 2.10.3; Edward Courtney, The Fragmentary Latin Poets (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 65.
- Giovanni Niccolini, I fasti dei tribuni della plebe (Milan 1934), pp. 430–431.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Post reditum in senatu 23.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad familiares 13.4 (= 318 in the chronological edition of Shackleton Bailey), 13.5 (= 319 SB), 13.6 (= 57 SB), 13.6a (= 58 SB); discussion in John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas: Sacred Institutions and Roman Counterparts, vol. 2 (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1995), pp. 248–249.
- Cicero, Brutus 169: non tam in dicendo admirabilis quam doctus et Graecis litteris et Latinis.
- Edwin S. Ramage, “Cicero on Extra-Roman Speech,” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 92 (1961) 481–494, especially pp. 487–488.
- John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas, vol. 2 (Berlin 1995), pp. 249–250.
- Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 34 et passim.
- Matthias Klinghardt discusses the religious case in "Prayer Formularies for Public Recitation: Their Use and Function in Ancient Religion," Numen 46 (1999), pp. 43–45; see also H.S. Versnel, “A Parody on Hymns in Martial V 24 and Some Trinitarian Problems,” Mnemosyne 27 (1974), p. 374, especially note 44.
- The "praetor" may be Pompey; see below.
- Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid 1.277: denique tribunus plebei quidam Valerius Soranus, ut ait Varro et multi alii, hoc nomen ausus enuntiare, ut quidam dicunt raptus a senatu et in crucem levatus est, ut alii, metu supplicii fugit et in Sicilia comprehensus a praetore praecepto senatus occisus est; from the Perseus Project's online edition of Servii Grammatici qui feruntur in Vergilii carmina commentarii, edited by George Thilo et Hermann Hagen (Teubner 1881).
- Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, entry on "Crux," Bill Thayer's LacusCurtius edition; Elizabeth Rawson, "Sallust on the Eighties?", Classical Quarterly 37 (1987), pp. 175–176; K.M. Coleman, "Fatal Charades: Roman Executions Staged as Mythological Enactments," Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990), p. 53 et passim; for full discussion, see M. Hengel, Crucifixion in the Ancient World (London 1977), especially "Crucifixion and Roman Citizens" and "The 'Slaves' Punishment," chapters 6 and 8.
- Valerius Maximus, 2.7.12.
- "Tribune" at Livius.org; fuller discussion of the tribunate at Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, "Tribunus," Bill Thayer's LacusCurtius edition..
- “This name and the name of the tutelary deity of Rome had to be handed down from one generation of Roman priests and magistrates to the succeeding one”: Jerzy Linderski, "The Augural Law," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II 16.3 (1986), p. 2255, note 424. The story of Valerius Soranus, Linderski assumes, indicates that tribunes knew the name; the reasoning may be circular.
- Pliny the Elder, Historia naturalis 3.65; Plutarch, Roman Questions 61. The late antique grammarian Solinus (1.4) also reports that Valerius Soranus was killed for profaning the name of Rome, connecting the act to the Roman goddess Angerona, whose cult statue depicted her with a sealed mouth.
- Thomas Köves-Zulauf, "Die Ἐπόπτιδες des Valerius Soranus," Rheinisches Museum 113 (1970) 323-358. "Tutelary deities" is not the universal translation: see discussion under Literary Works.
- Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid 1.277; Macrobius, Saturnalia 3.9; John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas, vol. 2 (Berlin 1995), p. 250. The ancient sources on the violation make a distinction without, in the outcome for Soranus, a difference; some say the arcanum not to be revealed was the secret name of Rome, and others that of Rome's tutelary deity, see L'identità segreta della divinità tutelare di Roma. Un riesame dell' affaire Sorano. Roma, Settimo Sigillo, 2011.
- Plutarch, Life of Pompey 10.4: φιλόλογος ἀνὴρ καὶ φιλομαθής.
- Conrad Cichorius, "Zur Lebensgeschichte des Valerius Soranus," Hermes 41 (1906), p. 59; T.R.S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, vol. 2, 99 B.C.–31 B.C. (New York: American Philological Association, 1952), p. 68; Edward Courtney, The Fragmentary Latin Poets (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 65.
- Jörg Rüpke, Religion of the Romans, translated and edited by Richard Gordon (Cambridge: Polity, 2007) p. 133.
- Conrad Cichorius, "Zur Lebensgeschichte des Valerius Soranus," Hermes 41 (1906) 59–68; English abstract in American Journal of Philology 28 (1907) 468.
- Jörg Rüpke, Religion of the Romans, translated and edited by Richard Gordon (Cambridge: Polity, 2007). p. 133. This view is shared by Stefan Weinstock, review of Die Geheime Schutzgottheit von Rom by Angelo Brelich, Journal of Roman Studies 40 (1950) 149–150. Political and religious motives reviewed by John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas, vol. 2 (Berlin 1995), pp. 249–250.
- For the development of the story of Valerius Soranus as a cautionary tale, see Trevor Murphy, “Privileged Knowledge: Valerius Soranus and the Secret Name of Rome,” in Rituals in Ink: A Conference on Religion and Literary Production in Ancient Rome (Stuttgart 2004), pp. 127–137.
- Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 105.
- Plutarch, Pompey 10.4–5, Loeb Classical Library translation of the Lives, vol. 5 (Cambridge University Press 1917), Bill Thayer's edition at LacusCurtius.
- John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas, vol. 2 (Berlin 1995), p. 250, citing Luigi Alfonsi, "L'importanza politico-religiosa della 'enunciazione' de Valerio Sorano," Epigraphica 10 (1948) 81–89.
- Pliny says that the Romans practiced evocatio when they laid siege to a city, with the priests calling out the foreign god and promising him a greater cult among them (Historia naturalis 28.18). Macrobius even provides the charm of evocation used against Carthage (Saturnalia 3.9). The secrecy surrounding prayer formularies, particularly the correct names of gods, was characteristic also of Judaism, Egyptian syncretistic religion, mystery religions, and later Christianity. See Matthias Klinghardt, “Prayer Formularies for Public Recitation: Their Use and Function in Ancient Religion,” Numen 46 (1999) 1–52, pp. 43–44 on this case; also article on "Magic and Religion: The Name of God."
- Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 300, note 12.
- Luigi Alfonsi, "L'importanza politico-religiosa della enunciazione di Valerio Sorano (a proposito di CIL I² 337)." Epigraphica 10 (1948) 81-89.
- Colleen McCullough, Fortune's Favorites (HarperCollins, 1994 edition), pp. 108 and 158.
- Arthur Bernard Cook, “The European Sky-God III: The Italians,” Folklore 16 (1905), p. 299.
- Robert M. Grant, review of Varros Logistoricus über die Götterverehrung ("Curio de cultu deorum"), dissertation by Burkhart Cardauns (Würzburg 1960) in Classical Philology 57 (1962), p. 140; Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 300, especially note 12; Jaime Alvar, "Matériaux pour l'étude de la formule sive deus, sive dea," Numen 32 (1985), pp. 259–260.
- Eduard Zeller, A History of Eclecticism in Greek 'Philos', translated by S.F. Alleyne (Kessinger, 2006, originally published 1883), p. 74; Michael von Albrecht et al., A History of Roman Literature: From Livius Andronicus to Boethius, vol. 1 (Brill, 1997), p. 504, translated from Geschichte der römischen Literatur: von Andronicus bis Boethius (1992).
- Edward Courtney, The Fragmentary Latin Poets (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 66–68; Attilio Mastrocinque, "Creating One's Own Religion: Intellectual Choices," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 382, pointing out that the Hymn to Zeus of Cleanthes presents a similar view of the god, and that Laevius, a likely contemporary of Valerius Soranus, held that Venus was both female and male (according to Macrobius, Saturnalia 3.8.3). Marcello De Martino, in L'identità segreta della divinità tutelare di Roma. Un riesame dell' affaire Sorano. Roma, Settimo Sigillo, 2011, believes that Sorano revealed the name of Roman tutelar deity, who was androgynous.
- Nicholas Horsfall, “Roman Religion and Related Topics,” review of Thomas Köves-Zulauf, Kleine Schriften (Heidelberg 1988), Classical Review 41 (1991) 120-122.
- An innovation admired by Pliny the Elder, preface 33, Historia naturalis.
- Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 51; John Henderson, “Knowing Someone Through Their Books: Pliny on Uncle Pliny (Epistles 3.5),” Classical Philology 97 (2002), p. 275.
- C. Joachim Classen, “Poetry and Rhetoric in Lucretius,” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 99 (1968), p. 115; "Lucretius and Callimachus, " in Lucretius, edited by Monica R. Gale, Oxford Readings in Classical Studies (Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 329.
- Nicholas Horsfall called the 33-page essay on a non-extant work "something of a tour de force," in “Roman Religion and Related Topics,” Classical Review 41 (1991) 120-122.
- Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1843, 1985 printing), entry on ἐποπτεία and related words, p. 676; Trevor Murphy, “Privileged Knowledge: Valerius Soranus and the Secret Name of Rome,” in Rituals in Ink (Stuttgart 2004), p. 133.
- H.J. Rose, “Latin Literature for Italian Children,” Classical Review 51 (1937) p. 229.
- Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 34, note 85.
- H. Rackham's translation of Pliny's Natural History (Harvard University Press, 1991).
- Nicholas Horsfall, noting that the word's only other occurrence in Latin is from Cornutus, in “Roman Religion and Related Topics,” Classical Review 41 (1991) 120-122.
- For instance, Aulus Gellius, citing Varro, notes that Valerius Soranus thought the Old Latin word flavisa referred to the same object as the Greek-derived word thesaurus 'treasure trove', and suggested that the Latin word derived from the flata pecunia, that is 'minted money', stored there (Attic Nights 2.10 = Varro, fragment 228 in Funaioli Grammaticae Romanae Fragmenta). Roman antiquarians often used etymology to investigate the history of objects and institutions.
- Varro, De lingua latina 7.31 and 10.70
- This identification is not widely agreed upon, though both E. Badian, "From the Gracchi to Sulla (1940–59)," Historia 11 (1962), p. 222, note 94, and E. Gabba, "Politica e cultura in Roma agli inizi del I secolo a. C.," Athenaeum (1953), p. 259f. (as cited by Badian) are willing to entertain the possibility.
- Abstract translated from L'Année philologique.