Terence's animus: An Analysis of Its Semantic Field
Keywords:Roman drama, Latin language, semantics, linguistics, Roman comedy
Terence's plays are distinguished by their psychologically convincing and insightful portrayals of character, which result from the author's investigation into human mentality. Mentality in its broadest sense is referred to in Latin by the noun animus, which holds a very important place in Terence's Andria. The frequency and variety of its occurrences are evidently due to the author's effort to show the attitudes and frames of mind of his characters as clearly as possible, the emphasis being on characters in love. The lexical meaning of the noun animus can be divided in to three semantic subfields, which denote three different mental capacities: the capacity for thought, emotion, and will. An analysis of its occurrences reveals that the actual value of the noun is determined by its sentential role and contextual complements, which provide an insight in to its characteristics. Terence's concept of human mentality can thus be explored and defined merely by means of grammatical interpretation, the core of this mentality being represented by the noun animus as the centre of consciousness and emotion. It represents a spatial concept, namely a kind of space in a human being, which, although inactive by itself, is the source of all mental and emotional processes, by which every conscious or unconscious action is determined. Everything that Terence's characters think, feel or want is born in their animus. They are undoubtedly aware of this fact, since their endeavours to influence their own emotions or thoughts are always directed towards the spot where they originate. In this light should be understood also Terence's concept of love, which displays no characteristics of an unknown outside force, but is merely a particular frame of mind, a feeling, one of many that are born in the animus.
(This is new version of the summary that was published in Keria 5/1/2003)
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