Prorsus as a response formula in Ficino's Latin: Plato, Gorgias 513d6–514d2

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In Plato's Gorgias, in 513d6ff, Callicles is no longer cooperating with Socrates, grudgingly emitting the response formula πάνυ γε in an unusually long repetitive sequence. Here Plato is deliberately avoiding his more familiar variatio. The use of variatio and its avoidance, with special reference to response formulae, is discussed both through literary parallels, and through analysis of three cases of variatio in the use of response formulae: one on the dimension of structural strategies adopted in different language types; and two in terms of scales of affirmation in Platonic dialogue – a taxonomy, and a sketch of how cyclical shifts from aporia to prehension are reflected through manipulation of patterns of varying response formulae. Ficino's reputation as a translator of Plato has fared far better than that of most of his precursors, but not as well as, say, that of Leonardo Bruni. However, Ficino's Latin Gorgias has been deemed superior in its eloquence as well as in its clarity and fidelity. I look at how Ficino handles Plato's deliberate avoidance of variatio, and in tandem, I compare and contrast his choice of the term prorsus in this scene, and elsewhere in the dialogue, with other response expressions used by him and by previous neoplatonist Latin translators – both literal and literary. Within the context of the changing use of those expressions I take a closer look at the adverb prorsus, which developed (a) into a modalizing particle, and (b) into a standalone response formula.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)123-136
JournalJournal of Latin Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Plato Gorgias
  • Ficino
  • Variatio
  • Dialogue technique
  • Translation technique
  • Humanist translations
  • Response formulae
  • Prorsus
  • πάνυ γε


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