lippos et tonsores

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Dlyons

Senior Member
English - Ireland
The 17th century English theologian Dr John Owen wrote Five Latin Orations when Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. In Oratio V he says "De discrimine nostro fortunisque communibus ex astrologorum hemerologiis et chartis Mercurialibus disceptatum est inter lippos et tonsores." complaining that Oxford's business had been discussed widely in newspapers etc by everybody.

I'm wondering how best to interpret "lippos et tonsores" (the bleary-eyed and barbers)? My feeling is that tonsores refers to barbers' shops which were notorious for gossip. My first thought was that lippos refrred to the Academic community bleary-eyed from burning the midnight oil of study. But thinking about it, I feel it's really some group outside the academic community. Might it be bleary-eyed party-goers staggering home in the light of dawn?

The "astrologorum hemerologiis et chartis Mercurialibus" both refer to the Royalist faction outside Oxford - the Civil War is just over, Cromwell is Lord Protector but the restoration of the Monarchy is only 5 years into the future. So might "lippos et tonsores" have Royalist connotations also?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings!

    Horace, Satires I 7, lippis...et tonsoribus...notum. I cite from memory, but this is the text. The phrase is tantamount to "Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that", and lippus here means "half-blind", that is (in this context), the gentlemen who, having become a little "tired and emotional", are inclined to chatter mindlessly.

    As to the connotations in the specific context of the English civil war, that lies beyond my jurisdiction. (Or knowledge)
     
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    Dlyons

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Thanks Scholiast, that seems right to me. Note that your "Every Tom, Dick and Harry" is exactly what a translation team used 40 years ago!
     

    XiaoRoel

    Senior Member
    galego, español
    Horacio está usando un proverbio, lippis et tonsoribus notus, 'conocido hasta por el pupas, conocido por todo dios', que diríamos en español popular. Lippus es una palabra popular (como denota la reduplicación expresiva de /p/ que significa 'mendigo, vagabundo', la plebe que llenaba ociosa las calles de Roma, los "sin techo" de la época, que eran legión. Tonsor es 'peluquero' que en nuestro folclores occidental es el 'charlatán', el 'cotilla', el 'cooreveidile' por excelencia.
    Ya la interpretación de esta expresión en un texto moderno y tan lleno de alusiones veladas de tipo simbólico y político, como explicáis, es cosa que se me escapa. Aunque la fuente horaciana parece clara.
     

    XiaoRoel

    Senior Member
    galego, español
    Muy interesante y bien fundado el artículo. Coincidimos, la información de la Red hay que pasarla por un tamiz muy fino. Así de primeras no se puede usar.
    Un saludo y mis felicitaciones por el artículo.
     
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