An aporia posed by Theophrastus prompts Priscian
to describe the process by which perception formally assimilates to its object as a progressive perfection.
The tendency throughout history to group words into classes (parts of speech) is also mentioned, from the first systems established by Plato, Aristotle or the Stoics to Dionysius Thrax of Alexandria and Priscian
. Additionally, an interlude on The Play Grammar, or, the Elements of Grammar Explained in Easy Games (1848) by Julia Corner, a grammar book for children, is provided.
. Translated by Pamela Huby, Sten Ebbesen, David Langslow, Donald Russell, Carlos Steel, and Malcom Wilson
A famous example occurs when Marie de France, in the prologue of her Lais, writes, "It was customary for the ancients, in the books which they wrote (Priscian
testifies to this), to express themselves very obscurely so that those in later generations, who had to learn them, could provide a gloss for the text and put the finishing touches to their meaning" (41).
The Sir George Grey Special Collections copy of Priscian
, Libri omnes (Basel, 1554) (49) is not in its original binding, having been rebound by a local Auckland company, Bowring and Lusher, who operated in the 1880s.
Especially from the late eighth century onwards, Priscian
's discussion of syllable lengths in his encyclopedic Institutiones grammaticae (ca.
1130 Containing Works for Instruction in the Language Arts" (41-56); Beth Bennett's comprehensive listing of sources used by Anselm of Besate in his Rhetorimachia (69-71); Karin Margareta Fredborg's edition, from the manuscripts, of extracts of Petrus Helias's commentary on the De inventione (116-125); Manfred Kraus's list of manuscripts containing works by Priscian
which include the Praeexercitamina, demonstrating their chronological and geographical distribution (177-179); and Martin Camargo's four appendices on Geoffrey of Vinsauf's Poetria nova, including a list of English manuscripts and editions and translations of additions to manuscripts of the text (156-172).
That Dante's position is constructed upon a standard locus ("figura est vitium com ratione"), and from the tradition of grammarians such as Donatus and Priscian
, nonetheless hardly explains the value the poet assigns to figures of speech and rhetorical devices in Chapters 24-25.
This distinction between "perfective" and "imperfective" meaning, fundamental to ancient and early modern grammarians and used by Priscian
to distinguish between verbal tempora, (12) had even deposed time as the key classificatory principle of the Latin verb system in the first-century BCE grammar of the Roman Varro (IX.96-97, X.47-48).
O take heed They that doe so will [make] 'cause1 his head to bleed Thates Priscian