The metaphorical structuring of kinship in Latin

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In this paper, I analyze how concepts related to the domains of space and plants were used by Latin speakers to deliver their culturally specific understanding of (some aspects of) human kinship, in the light of the theory of conceptual metaphor. I go on to claim that analysis of the metaphorical layer of Latin lexicon of kinship can contribute to its “emic” description in ancient Rome, that is, framing it (as much as possible) in concepts near to the Romans’ own experience. First, I describe the contribution that the domains of space and plants makes to the metaphorical structuring of Roman ideas about kinship. Then, I move on to their interplay and to their interaction with Roman images of time, which appear to be ultimately responsible for some of the seemingly odd features of these metaphors. I conclude by trying to spell out some differences between modern and ancient elaborations of the tree as a cultural image.


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