Previous: praecentoriusNext: praeceptio


praeceps, cĭpĭtis (old form praecĭ-pes, cĭpis, Plaut. Rud. 3, 3, 8; id. et Enn. ap. Prisc. p. 725 P. (Ann. v. 391 Vahl.; abl. praecipiti), adj. [prae-caput].

I. Lit., headforemost, headlong (class.): praecipitem trahi, Plaut. Ps. 1, 5, 79: aliquem praecipitem deicere, Cic. Verr. 2, 4, 40, 86: praeceps ad terram datus, dashed to the ground, Liv. 31, 37: praeceps curru ab alto Desilit, Ov. M. 12, 128: hic se praecipitem tecto dedit, threw himself headlong from the roof, Hor. S. 1, 2, 41: aliquem in praeceps jacere, headlong, Tac. A. 4, 22; so, jacto in praeceps corpore, id. ib. 6, 49; cf.: in praeceps deferri, Liv. 5, 47.—For in praeceps, in late Lat., per praeceps occurs: abiit grex per praeceps in mare, Vulg. Matt. 8, 32; id. Judic. 5, 22.—Hence, of one going rapidly, headforemost, headlong: de ponte Ire praecipitem in lutum per caputque pedesque, Cat. 17, 9: se jacere praecipitem e vertice, id. 63, 244; Verg. A. 5, 860: ab equo praeceps decidit, Ov. Ib. 259: (apes) praecipites Cadunt, Verg. G. 4, 80: aliquem praecipitem agere, to drive headlong, Cic. Caecin. 21, 60; Verg. A. 5, 456: praecipites se fugae mandabant, Caes. B. G. 2, 24: Monoeten In mare praecipitem deturbat, Verg. A. 5, 175; cf.: praeceps amensque cucurri, Ov. M. 7, 844: praeceps Fertur, is borne headlong, rushes, Hor. S. 1, 4, 30: nuntii, Tac. H. 2, 6.—

B. Transf., of inanim. things.

1. Of localities, qs. that descend suddenly in front, i. e. downhill, steep, precipitous: in declivi ac praecipiti loco, Caes. B. G. 4, 33: via (opp. plana), Cic. Fl. 42, 105: saxa, Liv. 38, 23: fossae, Ov. M. 1, 97; Verg. A. 11, 888: iter, Ov. Tr. 4, 3, 74; cf. trop.: iter ad malum praeceps ac lubricum, Cic. Rep. 1, 28, 44: loci, Col. 1, 2: mons, Plin. Pan. 16.—

b. Subst.: praeceps, cĭpĭtis, n., a steep place, a precipice: turrim in praecipiti stantem, Verg. A. 2, 460: specus vasto in praeceps hiatu, Plin. 2, 45, 44, 115: in praeceps pervenitur, Vell. 2, 3, 4: immane, Juv. 10, 107: altissimum, App. M. 4, p. 144 med.—In plur.: in praecipitia cursus iste deducit, Sen. Ep. 8, 4.—

2. Sinking, declining: (in vitibus) praecipites palmites dicuntur, qui de hornotinis virgis enati in duro alligantur, Col. 5, 6, 33: sol Praecipitem lavit aequore currum, Verg. G. 3, 359: jam praeceps in occasum sol erat, Liv. 10, 42: dies, id. 4, 9; cf.: senectus, Curt. 6, 5, 3. —

3. In gen., swift, rapid, rushing, violent (poet.; syn.: celer, velox): praeceps Anio, Hor. C. 1, 7, 13: Boreas, Ov. M. 2, 185: nox, fleeting, transient, id. ib. 9, 485: procella, Stat. Th. 5, 419: oceani fragor, Val. Fl. 3, 404: letum, Sen. Hippol. 262: remedium, Curt. 3, 6, 2.—

II. Trop., headlong, hasty, rash, precipitate.

A. In gen. (class.): noster erus, qui scelestus sacerdotem anum praecipes Reppulit, Plaut. Rud. 3, 3, 10: sol jam praecipitans me quoque haec praecipitem paene evolvere coëgit, almost headlong, precipitately, Cic. de Or. 3, 55, 209: agunt eum praecipitem poenae civium Romanorum, chase, pursue, id. Verr. 2, 1, 3, 7: praecipitem amicum ferri sinere, to rush into the abyss, id. Lael. 24, 89: quoniam ab inimicis praeceps agor, am pursued, Sall. C. 31, 9: praeceps celeritas dicendi, Cic. Fl. 20, 48: profectio, Att. ap. Cic. Att. 9, 10, 6: occumbunt multi letum ... praecipe cursu, in rapid destruction, Enn. l. l.—With gen.: SI NON FATORVM PRAECEPS HIC MORTIS OBISSET, sudden as regards fate, Inscr. Grut. 695, 9, emended by Minervini in Bullet. Arch. Napol. III. 1845, p. 41 (but Minervini's assumption of a new adj., praeceps, from praecipio, anticipating fale, is unnecessary).—

B. In partic.

1. Rash, hasty, inconsiderate: homo in omnibus consiliis praeceps, Cic. Phil. 5, 13, 37: praeceps et effrenata mens, id. Cael. 15, 35: praeceps consilium et immaturum, Suet. Aug. 8: cogitatio, id. Calig. 48: audacia, Val. Max. 1, 6, 7.—

2. Inclined to any thing: praeceps in avaritiam et crudelitatem animus, Liv. 26, 38: praeceps ingenio in iram, id. 23, 7: animus ad flagitia praeceps, Tac. A. 16, 21.—

3. Dangerous, hazardous, critical: in tam praecipiti tempore, Ov. F. 2, 400.—Hence,

b. Subst.: praeceps, cĭpĭtis, n.

(a). Great danger, extremity, extreme danger, critical circumstances: se et prope rem publicam in praeceps dederat, brought into extreme danger, Liv. 27, 27: levare Aegrum ex praecipiti, Hor. S. 2, 3, 292: aeger est in praecipiti, Cels. 2, 6.—

(b). The highest part, summit, sublimity (postAug.): omne in praecipiti vitium stetit, at its point of culmination, Juv. 1, 149: debet orator erigi, attolli, efferri, ac saepe accedere ad praeceps, to verge on the sublime, Plin. Ep. 9, 26, 2.—Hence, adv.: prae-ceps, headlong.

1. Lit.: aliquem praeceps trahere, Tac. A. 4, 62: ex his fulgoribus quaedam praeceps eunt, similia prosilientibus stellis, Sen. Q. N. 1, 15, 2: moles convulsa dum ruit intus immensam vim mortalium praeceps trahit atque operit, Tac. A. 4, 62: toto praeceps se corpore ad undas Misit, Verg. A. 4, 253.—

2. Trop.: eversio rei familiaris dignitatem ac famam praeceps dabat, brought into danger, Tac. A. 6, 17: praeceps in exsilium acti, suddenly, hastily, Amm. 29, 1, 21.