I need some help with the grammar here, I'm interested in learning Latin so I have been lurking around here for a bit, but I haven't really started, yet. (Well, I have had a couple of false starts).

I would like to adapt Cato the elder's famous motto for the times we live in now by exchanging Carthago with Corona:

Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendam or the abbreviated form Carthāgō dēlenda est

What would it be? (And why).


Sticking with just corona, you'd have:

  1. Corona delenda est
  2. Censeo Coronam esse delendam

You should know that corona is actually a Latin word meaning "crown", "garland", or "wreath". If you wanted this to be recognizable by the larger community, you'd probably want to adopt the scientific name, coronavirus. It's of course a made up compound, but virus is also a Latin word meaning "poison" or "slime" (obviously they didn't know about viruses in ancient Rome). It's neuter, so it would look instead like this:

  1. Coronavirus delendum est
  2. Censeo Coronavirus esse delendum
  • 1
    See also this thread on the name. You should note that if you choose the top answers, the grammar would remain the same as the second set (so virus coronarium/coronatum delendum...). – cmw May 15 at 13:23

The word Corona means crown or garland in Latin. The nominative (which serves as the subject) is Corona, and the accusative (the direct object, or object of certain prepositions) is Coronam. These forms would correspond with the nominative Carthago and the accusative Carthaginem. Therefore, the first sentence would be:

Ceterum autem censeo Coronam esse delendam.

This is an example of indirect discourse, which consists of a main verb, in this case censeo (I think or consider), followed by a combination of the accusative (Coronam) and an infinitive (esseto be).

The complement of the infinitive is delendam, which means basically worthy of destruction — often translated with should be destroyed, must be destroyed or is to be destroyed. (Note: the idea that it should be, must be or is to be comes from the fact that it's in the gerundive form of deleo, which means to destroy.)

Simplifying this:

Censeo Coronam esse delendam.

I consider that Corona is to be destroyed.

In the other sentence, Carthago is the nominative case, so it would be simply:

Corona delenda est.

Corona is to be destroyed.

It's also good to note that the gerundive delenda/delendam (an adjective form of the verb) has to agree in gender, number and case with the noun it's modifying. In these sentences, it's in the feminine singular form (to agree with Corona), and it's ending changes to correspond to the case (whether nominative or accusative).


Viruses were first identified in the 19th. Century. These, viral infections, of course, being different from bacterial diseases e.g. bubonic plague. Therefore I was surprised to find Oxford giving, (Latin) "virus" (a neuter noun) = "virus".

In Cato's quote "Carthago" (feminine, nominative) takes the accusative (direct object) after "censeo" = "I consider/ believe that". Neuter nouns are the same in the accusative as in the nominative, therefore, substitute neuter-accusative, "Coronavirus" ["corona" is the Latin word for "crown" (the spiky-structure of this species)] for feminine-accusative, "Carthaginem". Of course this changes feminine accusative "delendam" to the neuter equivalent, "delendum".

I'm not happy with "virus" = "venom"; "malignant quality"; "secretion with medical or magical potency". A better word the Romans certainly knew--"morbus" = "disease", a masculine noun. In the accusative, "morbum", giving "Coronamorbum" for your substitution.

Thanks to Joonas for previous Q:What should the corona virus be called in Latin?, which includes suggestions for Latin names for Coronavirus. As I have suggested "morbus" already, a possibility could be:

Coronavirus = "morbus cum acutis sudibus praefixis" =

"a disease with established sharp spikes". This is a little long-winded. Perhaps, truncating:

Coronavirus = "morbus cum sudibus" = "disease with spikes".


ceterum autem censeo morbum cum sudibus delendum esse

EDIT 17/5/2021:

Alternatively, "morbus sudium" = "disease of spikes":

ceterum autem censeo morbum sudium delendum esse.

Research has shown that it is the spikes, attaching the virus to cells, in the body, that make this disease so lethal.

  • There's a separate question about translating the name of the virus to Latin. If you want to call it other than corona, which is well justified, I recommend reading through the suggestions and thoughts in that question. – Joonas Ilmavirta May 15 at 12:52
  • @Joonas llmavirta: I recall that Q. Your suggestion " the crowned virus" implies, in English, that the disease has benefitted from a royal-coronation; it has been honoured in some way. How about "morbus cum sudibus acutis praefixis" = "diseae with established sharp spikes"? – tony May 15 at 13:12
  • I wouldn't say at all that there is anything royal or honoured about it, and I just edited my answer to clarify. I just meant "equipped with crown", which is what the name of the virus is quite literally trying to say. But there are a lot of other answers there, too. // I should also point out that the present question was about adapting something for today, so using words in their modern meanings seems necessary. – Joonas Ilmavirta May 15 at 13:31
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    You're right that you would just substitute Coronavirus for Carthaginem, but you would also have to change the gerundive to agree with it. That's an equally important part! – cmw May 15 at 14:57
  • @cmw: Well-spotted. – tony May 15 at 15:08

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