A Wainwright Gem

An excerpt from a Wainwright guide. Courtesy of Conrad Walks.

One of the things I do at the moment is tutor Latin – my Classics degree was not for naught, I tell myself!

As I was reading the famous account of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps from Livy’s History of Rome, I discovered the word proclivis, meaning ‘downhill’, in this context:

cetera plana, proclivia fore; uno aut summum altero proelio arcem et caput Italiae in manu ac potestate habituros

‘The rest of the way would be level or downhill; and with one or, at most, two battles, they would have the citadel and capital of Italy in their hands and power.’ Livy XXI, 35:8-9

Now, any readers of Wainwright will be aware of his colourful use of language when describing topography. One of his classic words is, of course, ‘proclivity’, which, thanks to Livy, can be deduced to mean ‘a steep slope’.

You could Google it, but where would be the fun in that!

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