Look Alive, Soul

In Hadrian's death poem (animula vagula blandula) addressed to his departing soul there is a line whose full resonance may lie in a pun recoverable via historical philology:

Quae nunc abībis in loca
(Into what regions will you [my soul] now pass?)

The crux of the wordplay is abībis. In the Latin of Hadrian's day, b and v had merged in intervocalic position. This would make abībis "you will pass" a near-homonym for the (colloquial?) form advīvis "you survive, you go on to live." It might also make nunc abībis "you now will pass" almost identical in pronunciation to nunquam vīvis "you never reside."

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