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A.Word.A.Day--locus classicus

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locus classicus (LO-kus KLAS-i-kus) noun plural loci classici (lo-KI KLAS-i-si, -ki)

A passage from a classic or standard work that is cited as an illustration or instance.

[New Latin : Latin locus, place + Latin classicus, belonging to the highest class.]

"Two thousand years ago, the Roman poet Horace gave the argument to mice, at the end of one of his Satires. A mouse from the city visits a mouse in the country and insists that life is too short to be spent in rustic deprivation. The city awaits, with its endless easy pleasures. The country mouse is persuaded and leaves home with his friend. The two crawl under the city wall - pass a decisive boundary between the old condition and the new - and enter a great house, where they nibble like kings on the remains of a fancy meal. It's all as promised, until barking dogs interrupt the dinner and scare the mice off their seats and out of their wits. `Who needs this?' cries the country mouse, in flight back to the fields.
"The Horatian fable is a locus classicus for the debate, which was already old at the time."
James M. Morris, Out of bounds (city vs. country life), The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 1998.

This week's theme: words about books and writing.


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