cui dono lepidum novum libellum? / by Anthony Gibbins

First of all, Miranda explains the entire plan to the others. primum omnium Miranda totum consilium ceteris explicat. Today we will take a closer look at that Verb; explico, explicare, explicavi, explicatum to explain.

But first, if explico is a thing, surely plico is too? Indeed, plico, plicare plicavi, plicatum (sometimes plico, plicare, plicui, plicitum) means to fold and to fold together. Virgil uses the word just once in the Aeneid, in describing a serpent in sua membra plicantem folded [back] on its own body. Pliny, in one of his letters, speaks of a plicatrix, a woman whose task it is to fold clothes and bed sheets.

explicare, as we have seen, means to explain, but that is not its original meaning. It originally meant - and indeed this meaning was retained - to unfold, the opposite of plicare. From there it takes on other similar meanings, such as to unroll, to disentangle and to spread out, extend, flatten. Cicero has volumen explicare to unroll a scroll. Ovid writes suas pennas explicare to unfold its feathers. Horace sings frontem sollicitam explicare to flatten a worried brow. And Caesar reports aciem explicare to extend the battle line.

From there the Verb takes on a second meaning, to explain in discourse, expound, interpret. This is the meaning when Miranda explains her plan to the others. This was also what the Hipster Poet Catullus had in mind when he wrote ausus es (unus Italorum) omne aevum tribus explicare chartis. ausus es You dared (unus Italorum alone of the Italians) explicare to explain tribus chartis in three papyri omne aevum the entire past. Catullus was asking to whom he should dedicate his new pamphlet of poetry, and he decided upon the historian Nepos. For Nepos, despite taking on so massive an endeavor, still saw value in Catullus’ musings.

First of all, Miranda explains the entire plan to the others. Jessica and Marcellus and also Claudia listen intently. This plan pleases everyone very much.