Among Greek grammarians a distinction is recognized between a class of nouns capable of referring to several nouns and a class referring to just one proper name. This distinction is very poorly (and problematically) attested in the works of Latin grammarians. This paper explores and discusses some connections so far overlooked, and tries to correct some misinterpretations. In the light of the distinction of proper vs. common epithets, the controversial phrase mediae potestatis is elucidated, by stressing that it refers to the ‘semantic incompleteness’ of the adjective. Finally, the assumption that the concept of ‘adjective’ was not known within Latin grammatical tradition before the fourth century is revised. We bring forward evidence against this assumption implying an early ‘linguistic’ tradition with respect to the adjective which was to some degree independent from the well-known ‘rhetorical’ doctrine on epithets.
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