Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper presents an analysis of conceptions of linguistic politeness in ancient Rome. Using lexical analysis, it scrutinizes first-order data recoverable from the Latin sources at our disposal, in order to determine the notions and dimensions of politeness that Romans were sensitive to. This kind of approach is helpful, primarily, when developing a suitable theoretical framework for dealing with the particular expressions of linguistic politeness in Latin. Moreover, it provides us with additional explanations of the historical dimension of politeness and of the creation and development of notions of politeness in Europe.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Arundale, Robert B.
    2006 “Face as Relational and Interactional: A Communication Framework for Research on Face, Facework, and Politeness”. Journal of Politeness Research2 (2): 193–216. 10.1515/PR.2006.011
    https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2006.011 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bargiela-Chiappini, Francesca
    2003 “Face and Politeness: New (Insights) for Old (Concepts)”. Journal of Pragmatics35: 1453–1469. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)00173‑X
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00173-X [Google Scholar]
  3. Barrios-Lech, Peter
    2016Linguistic Interaction in Roman Comedy. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781316416983
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316416983 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bax, Marcel and Dániel Z. Kádár
    2012 “The Historical Understanding of Historical (Im)politeness”. InMarcel Bax and Dániel Z. Kádár (eds), Understanding Historical (Im)Politeness, 1–24. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/bct.41.01bax
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bct.41.01bax [Google Scholar]
  5. Béranger, Jean
    1970 “Ordres et classes d’après Cicéron”. InRecherches sur les structures sociales dans l’antiquité classique (Caen 25–26 avril 1969), 225–242. Paris: CNRS.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Bettini, Maurizio
    2009 “Comparare i Romani. Per una antropologia del mondo antico”. Studi Italiani di Filologia Classica8 (1–4): 1–48.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bloomer, Marin W.
    1997 “Schooling in Persona: Imagination and Subordination in Roman Education”. Classical Antiquity16 (1): 57–78. 10.2307/25011054
    https://doi.org/10.2307/25011054 [Google Scholar]
  8. Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson
    1987Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511813085
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813085 [Google Scholar]
  9. Brown, Roger and Albert Gilman
    1989 “Politeness Theory and Shakespeare’s Four Major Tragedies”. Language in Society18 (2): 159–212. 10.1017/S0047404500013464
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500013464 [Google Scholar]
  10. Culpeper, Jonathan
    1998 “(Im)politeness in Dramatic Dialogue”. InJonathan Culpeper, Mick Short and Peter Verdonk (eds), Exploring the Language of Drama: From Text to Context, 83–95. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. 2011Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511975752
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511975752 [Google Scholar]
  12. D’Aloja, Chiara
    2011Sensi e attribuzioni del concetto di maiestas. Lecce: Grifo.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. De Saint-Denis, Eugène
    1939 “Évolution sémantique de urbanus-urbanitas”. Latomus3 (1): 5–24.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. De Vaan, Michiel
    2008Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages. Leiden and Boston: Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Dickey, Eleanor
    2002Latin Forms of Address: From Plautus to Apuleius. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 2012 “The Rules of Politeness and Latin Request Formulae”. InPhilomen Probert and Andreas Willi (eds), Laws and Rules in Indo-European, 313–328. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609925.003.0017
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609925.003.0017 [Google Scholar]
  17. Dutsch, Dorota
    2008Feminine Discourse in Roman Comedy: On Echoes and Voices. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199533381.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199533381.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  18. Ferri, Rolando
    2008 “Politeness in Latin Comedy: Some Preliminary Thoughts”. Materiali e Discussioni per l’Analisi dei Testi Classici61: 19–32.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. 2016 “An Ancient Grammarian’s View of How the Spoken Language Works: Pragmalinguistic Observations in Donatus’ Commentum Terentii”. InRolando Ferri and Anna Zago (eds), The Latin of the Grammarians: Reflections about Language in the Roman World, 237–275. Turnhout: Brepols.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Gaide, Françoise
    2001 “À propos des interactions verbales dans le thêatre de Plaute”. InClaude Moussy (ed.), De lingua latina novae quaestiones. Actes du Xè Colloque International de Linguistique Latine (Paris-Sèvres, 19–23 avril 1999), 959–969. Louvain, Paris and Sterling, Virginia: Peeters.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. García-Hernández, Benjamín
    2013 “El origen de facētus o la gracia en el gesto facial”. InJosé Antonio Beltrán Cebollada, Alfredo Encuentra Ortega, Gonzalo Fontana Elboj, Ana Isabel Magallón García and Rosa María Marina Sáez (eds), Otium cum dignitate: Estudios en homenaje al profesor José Javier Iso Echegoyen, 81–92. Zaragoza: Universidad de Zaragoza.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Goffman, Erving
    1967 “On Face-Work”. InInteraction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior, 5–45. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Guérin, Charles
    2011 Persona. L’élaboration d’une notion rhétorique au Ier siècle av. J. -C. Volume II. Théorisation cicéronienne de la persona oratoire. Paris: Vrin.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Hall, Jon
    2005 “Politeness and Formality in Cicero’s Letter to Matius (Fam. 11.27)”. Museum Helveticum62: 193–213.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 2009Politeness and Politics in Cicero’s Letters. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329063.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329063.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  26. 2019 “Seneca’s De Beneficiis and Nonverbal Politeness in Ancient Rome”. Journal of Historical Pragmatics20 (2): 226–244. 10.1075/jhp.00030.hal
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jhp.00030.hal [Google Scholar]
  27. Haugh, Michael
    2006 “Emic Perspectives on the Positive–Negative Politeness Distinction”. Cultura, Lenguaje y Representación3: 17–26.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Jacobs, Andreas and Andreas H. Jucker
    1995 “The Historical Perspective in Pragmatics”. InAndreas H. Jucker (ed.), Historical Pragmatics: Pragmatic Developments in the History of English, 3–33. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.35.04jac
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.35.04jac [Google Scholar]
  29. Jucker, Andreas
    2016 “Politeness in Eighteenth-Century Drama: A Discursive Approach”. Journal of Politeness Research12 (1): 95–115. 10.1515/pr‑2015‑0027
    https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2015-0027 [Google Scholar]
  30. Kádár, Dániel Z. and Jonathan Culpeper
    2010 “Historical (Im)Politeness: An Introduction”. InJonathan Culpeper and Dániel Z. Kádar (eds), Historical (Im)Politeness, 9–36. Bern: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Kaster, Robert A.
    2005Emotion, Restraint and Community in Ancient Rome. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140781.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140781.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  32. Krostenko, Brian A.
    2001Cicero, Catullus, and the Language of Social Performance. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Krylová, Barbara
    2015 “Latin Directives and (im)Politeness: How Do Modifications of Illocutionary Force (not) Modify the (im)Politeness Status of Directives”. Paper presented at the18th International Colloquium on Latin Linguistics10th June 2015. University of Toulouse.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Locher, Miriam A. and Richard J. Watts
    2005 “Politeness Theory and Relational Work”. Journal of Politeness Research1: 9–33. 10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.9
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.9 [Google Scholar]
  35. Locher, Miriam A.
    2013 “Relational Work and Interpersonal Pragmatics”. Journal of Pragmatics58: 145–149. 10.1016/j.pragma.2013.09.014
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.09.014 [Google Scholar]
  36. Marchese, Rosa Rita
    2016Uno sguardo che vede. L’idea di rispetto in Cicerone e in Seneca. Palermo: Palumbo.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Mencacci, Francesca
    2010 “Modestia vs. Licentia. Seneca on Childhood and Status in the Roman Family”. InVéronique Dasen and Thomas Späth (eds), Children, Memory and Family Identity in Roman Culture, 233–244. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. 2016 “Praeter consuetudinem. (Im)politeness e stili comunicativi a Roma”. Studi e Saggi Linguistici54: 91–115.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Michel, Alain
    1970 “Ordres et classes chez les historiens romaines”. InRecherches sur les structures sociales dans l’antiquité classique (Caen 25–26 avril 1969), 243–257. Paris: CNRS.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Miller, Anna B.
    1914Roman Etiquette of the Late Republic as Revealed by the Correspondence of Cicero. PhD thesis. University of Pennsylvania. Lancaster: Press of the New Era Publishing Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Moreau, Philippe
    2002 “Positions du corps, gestes et hiérarchie social à Rome”. InPhilippe Moreau (ed.), Corps romains, 179–200. Grenoble: Jérôme Millon.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Narducci, Emanuele
    1989Modelli etici e società. Un’idea di Cicerone. Pisa: Giardini.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Pizziconi, Barbara
    2007 “The Lexical Mapping of Politeness in British English and Japanese”. Journal of Politeness Research3: 207–241. 10.1515/PR.2007.010
    https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2007.010 [Google Scholar]
  44. Ramage, Edwin S.
    1973 Urbanitas. Ancient Sophistication and Refinement. Norman: Oklahoma University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Risselada, Rodie
    1993Imperatives and Other Directive Expressions in Latin. A Study in the Pragmatics of a Dead Language. Amsterdam: Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Roesch, Sophie
    2004 “La politesse dans la correspondance de Cicéron”. InLéon Nadjo and Elisabeth Gavoille (eds), Epistulae antiquae III: Actes du IIIe colloque international “L’Épistolaire antique et ses prolongements européens”, 139–152. Leuven: Peeters.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Spencer-Oatey, Helen and Dániel Z. Kádár
    2016 “The Bases of (Im)politeness Evaluations: Culture, the Moral Order and the East–West Debate”. East Asian Pragmatics1 (1): 73–106. 10.1558/eap.v1i1.29084
    https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.v1i1.29084 [Google Scholar]
  48. Taylor, Charlotte
    2017 “The Relationship between Irony and Sarcasm: Insights from a First-order Metalanguage Investigation”. Journal of Politeness Research13 (2): 209–241. 10.1515/pr‑2015‑0037
    https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2015-0037 [Google Scholar]
  49. Terkourafi, Marina
    2005 “Beyond the Micro-Level in Politeness Research”. Journal of Politeness Research1: 237–262. 10.1515/jplr.2005.1.2.237
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jplr.2005.1.2.237 [Google Scholar]
  50. 2008 “Towards a Unified Theory of Politeness, Impoliteness and Rudeness”. InDerek Bousfield and Miriam A. Locher (eds), Impoliteness in Language: Studies on its Interplay with Power in Theory and Practice, 45–74. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. 2011 “From Politeness1 to Politeness2: Tracking Norms of Im/Politeness across Time and Space”. Journal of Politeness Research7: 159–185. 10.1515/jplr.2011.009
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jplr.2011.009 [Google Scholar]
  52. Thomas, Jean-François
    2012 “Sur la lexicalisation de l’idée de honte en latin”. InRenaud Alexandre, Charles Guérin and Mathieu Jacotot (eds), Rubor et pudor. Vivre et penser la honte dans la Rome ancienne, 13–31. Paris: Editions Rue d’Ulm.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. 2016 “Pudor et uerecundia: deux formes de la conscience morale”. Euphrosyne34: 355–368.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Toner, Jerry
    2009Popular Culture in Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Unceta Gómez, Luis
    2008 “Incidencia de factores pragmáticos en la evolución semántica del verbo rogare”. InGhislaine Viré (ed.), Autour du lexique latin. Communications faites lors du XIIIe Colloque International de Linguistique Latine (Bruxelles-Liege, 4 au 9 avril 2005), 244–255. Brussels: Latomus.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. 2009La petición verbal en latín. Estudio léxico, semántico y pragmático. Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. 2010 “La expresión del agradecimiento en la comedia latina”. InPeter Anreiter and Manfred Kienpointner (eds), Latin Linguistics Today. Akten des 15. Internationalen Kolloquiums zur lateinischen Linguistik (Innsbruck, 4–9 April 2009), 625–637. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. 2014a “La politesse linguistique en latin: Bilan d’une étude en cours”. InMichèle Fruyt (ed.), Dictionnaire historique et encyclopédie linguistique du latin. Paris: Sorbonne. Accessed6 October 2017at: www.linglat.paris-sorbonne.fr/encyclopedie_linguistique:notions_linguistiques:syntaxe:formules_de_politesse
    [Google Scholar]
  59. 2014b “Pedir perdón en latín. El acto de habla de la disculpa en las obras de Plauto y Terencio”. Emerita82 (1): 69–97. 10.3989/emerita.2014.04.1328
    https://doi.org/10.3989/emerita.2014.04.1328 [Google Scholar]
  60. 2016a “La respuesta al agradecimiento en la comedia de Plauto y Terencio”. Pallas. Revue d’Études Antiques102 (1): 229–236.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. 2016b “Congratulations in Latin Comedy: Types and Functions”. Journal of Politeness Research12 (2): 267–290. 10.1515/pr‑2016‑0005
    https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2016-0005 [Google Scholar]
  62. 2018 “Gli studi sulla (s)cortesia linguistica in latino. Possibilità di analisi e proposte per il futuro”. Studi e Saggi Linguistici56 (2): 9–37.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Valenti, Rossana
    1976 “Per un’analisi semantica di urbanitas in Cicerone”. Bolletino di Studi Latini6: 54–61.
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Watts, Richard J.
    1992 “Linguistic Politeness and Politic Verbal Behaviour: Reconsidering Claims for Universality”. InRichard J. Watts, Sachiko Ide and Konrad Ehlich (eds), Politeness in Language: Studies in its History, Theory and Practice, 43–69. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110886542‑005
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110886542-005 [Google Scholar]
  65. 2003Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511615184
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615184 [Google Scholar]
  66. 2012 “A Socio-Cognitive Approach to Historical Politeness”. InMarcel Bax and Dániel Z. Kádár (eds), Understanding Historical (Im)Politeness, 103–130. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/bct.41.05wat
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bct.41.05wat [Google Scholar]
  67. Falconer, W. A.
    1923 Cicero. On Old Age. On Friendship. On Divination. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Foster, B. O.
    1919 Livy. History of Rome, Volume I: Books 1–2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Hubbell, H. M.
    1949 Cicero. On Invention. The Best Kind of Orator. Topics. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  70. de Melo, Wolfgang
    2011 Plautus. Amphitryon. The Comedy of Asses. The Pot of Gold. The Two Bacchises. The Captives. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  71. 2011 Plautus. The Merchant. The Braggart Soldier. The Ghost. The Persian. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  72. Miller, Walter
    1913 Cicero. On Duties. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  73. Rackham, H.
    1914 Cicero. On Ends. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  74. Rolfe, J. C.
    1927 Gellius. Attic Nights, Volume I: Books 1–5. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  75. Russell, Donald A.
    2002 Quintilian. The Orator’s Education, Volume I: Books 1–2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  76. Shackleton Bailey, D. R.
    1999 Cicero. Letters to Atticus, Volume I. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  77. 2002 Cicero. Letters to Quintus and Brutus. Letter Fragments. Letter to Octavian. Invectives. Handbook of Electioneering. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  78. Warmington, E. H.
    1935 Ennius, Caecilius. Remains of Old Latin, Volume I: Ennius. Caecilius. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): emic conceptions; Latin; lexical analysis; politeness
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error