benignus / by Anthony Gibbins

One of the things you’ll notice about the way Pico experiences Legonium – and indeed, about Legonium in general – is that many people are benignus. So let’s look a little closer at this word. benignus, first of all, is an adjective. According to the Oxford Latin Dictionary it equates to the following words in English; kind, beneficent, open-handed, generous, liberal, lenient and equitable. When describing an object, such as a meal, journey, fountain or wind, it equates to beneficial, favorable, copious and abundant.

Like most Latin adjectives benignus has a comparative form – benignior – meaning ‘more benignus’ and a superlative form – benignissimus – meaning ‘very or most benignus’. Within the same family there are two adverbs – benigne and benigniter – that equate to ‘in a kindly manner’ and the noun benignitas, which equates to ‘kindness’ or ‘generosity’.

A few students have pointed out to me that giving milk to a cat is not really a kindness, due to their intolerance for lactose. I, however, could not resist including this old trope. You can buy lactose free milk specially for cats, but the best thing for them is water.

Moreoever, the man who runs the laundromat is very kind (here valde benignus = benignissimus). Every day he gives milk to Pico and often pats him.