Lucan’s Civil War

In response to:

Roman Grand Guignol from the January 18, 1990 issue

To the Editors:

Regarding the discussion concerning Lucan’s statement “suffecit omnibus unda” I would like to offer an alternative explanation. The verb “sufficio -ficere -feci -fectum” has the meaning of being sufficient when it is intransitive, but as a transitive verb its meaning may be to lay a foundation for, to dip, to tinge, to dye, to drench. Cicero writes “lanam medicamentis sufficere” which is to dip wool in the dye. In Georgics II 190–191 we read “…multoque fluentis/sufficiet Baccho vitis,…” The Loeb Library translates it as “streaming with the rich flood of Bacchus.”

It seems to me that it makes infinitely more sense to say “he cast his helmet away and drenched everyone” than the alternative “everyone had his fill” which is absurd.

José L. Campos
Kalamazoo, Michigan