Classical Quarterly 36 (01):271- (1986)

I. The name earned early notoriety from L. Ambivius Turpio, the actor who performed in all the plays of Terence. It appealed to Lucilius: quid tibi ego ambages Ambivi scribere coner? Also to Wilhelm Schulze, duly citing the Lucilian reference. In the sequel the nomen failed to enlist proper regard. Three persons bore it, diverse in life and rank: a tavern keeper on the Via Latina, a gourmet writer, a procurator governing Judaea. To the first and to the third, erudition in the recent time denies recognition; and the second through inadvertence misses his place and period. The Ambivii call for redemption. The venture will lead along circuitous or devious paths, ‘per ambages’, in the pursuit of names and identities. From that operation various instruction accrues on the flank. II. First, a casual notice in the criminal record of a family of the better sort at Larinum. Cluentius and his slaves, so it was alleged, had made an assault on ‘Ambivium quendam, coponem de via Latina’ . Traditional texts remained content with that name. Not so long ago recourse to manuscripts produced ‘A. Bivium’. It was adopted in two standard editions. Had editors given a thought to nomenclature, they might have conceived some disquiet. Absent from the repertorium, the nomen appeared to lack attestation. In itself no bar, to be sure. The dense forest of local Italian nomenclature carries plenty of unique specimens. Reassurance could be sought from ‘Bivellius’ and ‘Bivonius’
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DOI 10.1017/S000983880001079X
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