In answer to the question Quotiens? (How many times), one can respond with aliquotiens (several times). But for the question Quoteni? (How many of each), can he come up with aliquoteni?

For I can't find aliquoteni in classical sources, but only very few attestations from Medieval sources (e.g.). Maybe this word was used in classical times but due to its rarity, it didn't survive in our extant texts? Or there was alternative way of saying that?

Originally, I wanted to express the innocent "several camps". It seems the distributive is needed there, as castra is plural-form but really singular (A&G 137.b). But maybe aliquot castra would do?

2 Answers 2


Aliquot as an indefinite adjective is common and is very suitable for your purpose. Here are some examples taken from archaic and classical authors:

  1. Cato, orig. fr. 128 Peter: interim aliquot <p>au<ca> castra feci
  2. Plaut. capt. 161: eorum sunt aliquot genera Pistorensium
  3. Cic. Cluent. 168: dico illum [...] aliquot dies aegrotasse et ita esse mortuum
  4. Cic. Brut. 169: sunt aliquot orationes Asculi habitae
  5. Liv. 2,19,3: gliscens iam per aliquot annos

Other examples in the Thesaurus linguae Latinae s.v. aliquot, col. 1616,36-69.

  • Thanks. I'm not sure however, if all the examples would use a distributive if the number were defined. for example it seems aliquot might be replaces with tres (tres orationes*/ *tres annos and not terni annos). But The example with castra indeed looks promising.
    – d_e
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 21:28
  • 3
    Because castra is (usually) a plural-only noun, the first example in your list is really the only one that's relevant to the question.
    – cnread
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 21:30
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    So I think I have misinterpreted the purpose of the question and I apologize. As an indefinite distributive numeral adjective aliquot could be fine, as the example of Cato I cited (which however is the result of a textual restoration) would demonstrate. However, tres is not a distributive numeral like ternus (but beware: ternOS annos and non ternI annos). As far as I know, in classical Latin there is no indefinite distributive adjective that translates 'some at a time'.
    – qwertxyz
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 22:32

Searching "aliquot castra" I happen by luck to find an old article (Rand, Edward Kennard. "On a Passage in Virgil's First Eclogue." The Classical Journal 2.3 (1907): 125-128.). in which the issue at hand is mentioned (tersely unfortunately).

In that paper a passage from the Ecoluge is dealt. For our need however, the relevant line is:

post aliquot mea regna videns mirabor aristas

The word arista: when appears in plural might mean harvest. In that sense it is very similar to castrum that its plural has singular meaning.

Now, it is without question that aliquot aristas should be taken together. The question is whether aristas following aliquot might have the plural meaning of harvest and thus yield the meaning "(post) several harvests" i.e, (after) some time. Or aliquot aristas should mean several conrns (i.e, the singular/regular meaning of arista). We read in the article:

Arista means "an ear of corn," and the plural may well mean "a harvest," as Conington admits. He thinks, however, that aliquot distributes the new singular again. But how would the Romans say "several camps," if not aliquot castra? Claudian thought the new meaning of the plural so much of an entity that he modified it by the ordinal decimus, not by the distributive, as the rule enjoins. (emphasis mine)

So it seems the author and other modern and ancient commentators did not seem to be alarmed by the fact that aliquot is used together with the plural-meaning (harvest), as they seem to acknowledge no other alterative of saying this like aliquoteni. Claudian even departs from the Law (A&G 137.b) above and use decimas he views harvest as a single unit. Even Conington, who interprets aristas here as corn, apparently didn't come up with strong grammatical argument to rule out the meaning of aliquot aristas as several harvests.

So overall it brings some evidence that aliquot can be used instead the theoretical aliquoteni (gives rise however to an ambiguity - that hopefully should be solved by context, though in this case from Virgil the context wasn't strong enough.)

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