Brill’s New Pauly

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(498 words)

[German version]

[1] Breath or spirit

('breath', 'spirit').

[German version]

I. Graeco-Roman

The Latin word spiritus (denominative from spirare 'blow', 'breathe') describes any stream of air, also the breathing in and out of life-giving air, and hence even life itself. Thus in Cicero (Rosc. Am. 72) spiritus is what is common to all living beings. Unlike Greek pneûma , spiritus has a more anthropological/moral accentuation and it also describes self-reliance, positively as courage…

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Büchli, Jörg (Zürich), “Spiritus”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 21 June 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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