O Tite, tute, Tati, tibi tanta, tyranne, tulisti

Some alliterative bombs of Ennius’, from the Loeb Fragmentary Republican Latin v.1. In the unlikely event I ever teach Latin again I will keep this first in my pocket for memorably illustrating vocatives.

From Rhetorica ad Herennium (4.18):

Artistic composition is an arrangement of words that makes every part of the discourse equally polished. It will be maintained if we avoid the frequent clash of vowels . . . and if we shun excessive repetition of the same letter, for which fault this verse will be an example—for here nothing prevents using examples from the faults of others:

you, O Titus Tatius, tyrant, took on yourself such great troubles


compositio est verborum constructio quae facit omnes partes orationis aequabiliter perpolitas. ea conservabitur si fugiemus crebras vocalium concursiones . . . et si vitabimus eiusdem litterae nimiam adsiduitatem, cui vitio versus hic erit exemplo—nam hic nihil prohibet in vitiis alienis exemplis uti:

O Tite, tute, Tati, tibi tanta, tyranne, tulisti

And Priscian

In nominationes, i.e., in onomatopoeia, whether of nouns or verbs, with unusual forms not every inflectional ending should be looked for as . . . taratantara. Ennius:

and the trumpet with terrifying tone sounded taratantara

Compare Servius on Virgil, “and the trumpet a terrifying tone . . .”: a half-line of Ennius, for he [Virgil] changed what follows. He [Ennius], to bring out the trumpet’s tone, says “it sounded taratantara.”


in nominationibus, id est in ὀνοματοποιία, sive nominum seu verborum novis conformationibus non omnes declinationis motus sunt quaerendi ut . . . taratantara. Ennius:

at tuba terribili sonitu taratantara dixit

Cf. Serv. ad Verg. Aen. 9.503 “at tuba terribilem sonitum”: hemistichium Ennii. nam sequentia iste mutavit. ille enim ad exprimendum tubae sonum ait “taratantara dixit.”

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