In Suetonius's Life of Claudius 42 we read:

Nec minore cura Graeca studia secutus est, amorem praestantiamque linguae occasione omni professus. Cuidam barbaro Graece ac Latine disserenti: "Cum utroque," inquit, "sermone nostro sis paratus"; et in commendanda patribus conscriptis Achaia, gratam sibi provinciam ait communium studiorum commercio; ac saepe in senatu legatis perpetua oratione respondit.

I'm not sure about the exact meaning of the phrase communium studiorum commercio. The Loeb translation of this passage runs:

He gave no less attention to Greek studies, taking every occasion to declare his regard for that language and its superiority. To a foreigner who held forth both in Greek and in Latin he said: "Since you are ready with both our tongues"; and in commending Achaia to the senators he declared that it was a province dear to him through the association of kindred studies; while he often replied to Greek envoys in the senate in a set speech.

But that's not clear to me either. What is "the association of kindred studies"? The studies are presumably Claudius's studies of Greek, but what or who are they kindred (communes) with and what is the "association" (commercium)?


The Loeb translation seems about right: Alexander Thomson translates the bolded passage in a similar way:

on account of our common studies

The passage could go any number of ways, but I tend to favor a reading of commercium not so much as (economic) commerce as simply fellowship. Lewis & Short, in its entry for commercium, offers as one meaning:

II. In gen., intercourse, communication, correspondence, fellowship

Suetonius's point is that Claudius feels a special affinity (commercium) for Greece because of their common interests/studies (communia studia). This is paralleled in the previous anecdote, where he makes the similar point that Greek is not an alien tongue but, like Latin, "our tongue."


I take it to be in the neighborhood of "common study of commerce" or "art of business", possibly "togetherness of trade".

  • 1
    Welcome Josh! Could you explain why you think this is the best way to understand the phrase? Citing sources, such as dictionaries, is often helpful as well. Jul 27 '16 at 15:56
  • I like to translate terms as literally as possible into English maintaining an improper English word order. This phrase "communium studiorum commercio" translates most directly to "common study commerce" from there of course we have only a rough meaning that can change dramatically depending on inflection and altered definitions of each idea(word). This particular phrase appears to be in regard to an individual from an envoy who spoke two languages and apparently impressed a politician. Like minded in commerce, both speaking the same tongue, both politicians, it appears to be a compliment to t
    – Josh
    Jul 27 '16 at 16:58
  • 2
    @Josh, although that is a way of getting a rough meaning, the case endings provide indispensable information about how the words interact: communium studiorum is genitive and commercio is ablative.
    – brianpck
    Jul 27 '16 at 17:08
  • I agree @brianpck, however, there were no case endings that indicated change of meaning in that phrase to me. Context should be enough with the ideas provided by the root words. Did I miss something? I'm not a genius of Latin declensions.
    – Josh
    Jul 27 '16 at 17:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.