In this course,
2nd declension nouns in -ius and -ium (filius,
ingenium etc.) are treated as being regular in the gen. sing.; till
the end of the Republic, however, the forms filī, ingenī
etc. were more usual than filii, ingenii etc. At all periods,
masculine nouns in -ius (filius, Antonius etc.)
conflated their final vowels in the vocative singular, giving the forms
filī, Antonī etc. The vocative singular of deus,
which would be dee, is not found in classical Latin; a god was
addressed either by his name or as dive, the vocative of divus,
an alternative to deus. In St. Jerome’s translation of the
Bible (the Vulgate, written in the early 5th century), deus
is used as the vocative.
Nights 14.5, Aulus Gellius records how he once heard two distinguished
grammarians wrangling vehemently but inconclusively over the correct
ending in the vocative singular masculine of adjectives which end in
–ius in the nom. sing. masc.: should egregius (‘excellent’)
change to egregie or to egregi? Eventually, Gellius just
“left them to it, not thinking it worth while to listen to them any
longer as they shouted and fought with each other about the same things
over and over” (non arbitratus ego operae pretium esse eadem istaec
diutius audire clamantes conpugnantesque illos reliqui).
especially poets, tended to retain the Greek form of Greek names, thereby
adding an attractively exotic color to their writing. Almost
no change is required in transliterating into Greek such splendid lines
as Vergil’s Amphion Dircaeus in Actaeo Aracyntho (Eclogues
2.24 = Ἀμφίων
Δίρκαιος ἐν Άκταίῳ Ἀρακύνθῳ) or Ovid’s Amphiareiades Naupactoo
Acheloo (Fasti 2.43 = Ἀμφιαρειάδης Ναυπακτώῳ
is closely akin to Latin, most Greek forms are very similar to Latin
forms, and they are easily learned. The majority of nouns in other declensions
with special vocative forms are Greek proper names. The vast majority
of vocatives in Latin are not distinct from the equivalent nominative
forms. In modern texts of Latin, editors usually isolate vocatives with
commas, as in English. In Greek, vocatives are not only more frequently
distinct from nominatives in form, but they are more often than not
introduced by the interjection ὦ (o). o is very much
rarer in Latin; in the more than 500,000 words that comprise the surviving
books of Livy’s history of Rome, it occurs only once, in a speech
by the Delphic Sibyl, which will have been delivered originally in Greek.
o with only 2% of his vocatives. It appears in some of his most
famous utterances, o tempora! o mores!
(Oh, the times we live in!, Oh, the corruption!), o fortunatam natam
me consule Romam! (see the Fetutinae to Chapter 20), but
these are not constructed with the vocative. For the accusative of exclamation,
see Chapter 16.
None of the
very few second declension neuter nouns which do not decline like
saxum will appear in this course. Among the commonest such nouns
are pelagus “the open sea”, virus “poison” and
vulgus “crowd”, all of which are defective, in that they do
not occur in all cases.
masculine nouns which, like puer, retain the e are not
very numerous; other common examples are adulter, adulteri
“adulterer”, gener, generi “son-in-law”, liberi,
liberorum “children” (found only in the plural; see Chapter
10), socer, soceri “father-in-law”.
is cognate with the third declension feminine noun maiestas,
maiestatis (see Chapter 8), the origin of the English word “majesty”.
When he was sent into exile, Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, set
up a school in Corinth, for he was quite incapable of living without
exercising some authority (Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 3.12).
Even so, most teachers, if not actually slaves, had a humble social
standing and were very poorly paid. In the late 2nd century AD, a Senatorial
decree allowed for the granting of a bonus of 500 sestertii to
a victorious gladiator, if he was a free man, of 400, if he was a slave
(Select Latin Inscriptions 5163.29ff.); Juvenal complains in
the concluding lines of his seventh Satire that a schoolteacher
might make about this amount in a year. (Since the purpose of the decree
was to limit the costs of gladiatorial games, we may infer that such
bonuses were usually rather more generous.)
vir is unparalleled as the nominative and vocative singular of a
second declension masculine noun, ending neither in -us/-e
nor in -er, but it is not strictly irregular. Very few nouns
in Latin have an irregular declension.
the Latin Language p. 261 tells us that “in earlier times, women
were called virae”.
were at least partly correct in observing that, in general, only useful,
i.e. domesticated, animals had distinct masculine and feminine forms;
hence, for example, a cow hippopotamus would be hippopotamus femina.
That there is a distinct feminine form lupa may be largely attributable
to the she-wolf’s prominence as the symbol of Rome, Romulus and Remus
having been reared by one; lupus femina is, however, used by
the early epic poet Ennius with reference to this very she-wolf.
lupa is also one of many words for “prostitute”, and there was
in fact an alternative version of Rome’s foundation-myth that the
twins were reared by a prostitute; if we had fuller information about
everyday speech, no doubt even more such terms would be known.
(hippos; cf. hippopotamus “river horse”) are both
derived from the same IndoEuropean ancestor. The derivation of “horse”
is uncertain; it may be related to the Latin verb currere “to
run”. The German word Pferd is cosmopolitan, being derived
from the late Latin term paraveredus, which is a hybrid of the
Greek preposition παρά (para) “beside” prefixed to the
Celtic ve “under” and reda “cart”, i.e. the horse
under one side of the yoke of a cart-pulling pair.
meaning of liber is “the bark of a tree”, indicating an early
writing-material. “Bible” is derived from the Greek word for “book”
(βίβλος biblos), the basic sense of which is “the inner
bark of the papyrus” (from which we derive the word “paper”).
“Book” is similarly thought to be cognate with the Germanic word
for a “beech-tree”. Our word “parchment” is derived from (carta)
Pergamena “writing material from Pergamum”, the practice of
using animal skins for writing having become current there when papyrus
from Egypt came to be in short supply. The elder Pliny comments on the
vital importance of papyrus: “To deal with the frequent shortages
of paper, commissioners were appointed as long ago as Tiberius’ rule
to control its distribution, since otherwise life would have been in
chaos” (Historia Naturalis 13.89).
words are cognate, servus should not be translated as merely
“servant”, for that would give a misleadingly bland impression of
Roman society. By the end of the 1st cent. BC, perhaps more than 30%
of the population of Rome were slaves, subject to the absolute control
of their owners.
once proposed in the Senate that slaves should be distinguished from
free people by their dress, but then it was realized how great a danger
this would be, if our slaves began to count us” (Seneca, On Mercy
servus was thought to be derived from the verb servare “to
save”, prisoners of war being sold into slavery rather than put to
death; the word “slave” reflects the conquest of the Slavic peoples
in Eastern Europe in the early Middle Ages.
students have difficulty distinguishing the conjunction “for”, equivalent
to nam, namque and enim, from the preposition “for”,
sometimes used in translating nouns and pronouns in the dative case:
agricola nautam non amat, nam pirata est
The farmer does not like the sailor, for he is a pirate
saxa puero portat equus
carries the stones for the boy.