The phrase axis mundi is used frequently in archaeology and art history to describe certain places as a "world center" or "center of the universe" in Indigenous or ancient/historical thought. How would this phrase be correctly pluralized? For instance, "By the early first millennium BCE, new urban centers developed across the region and were conceptualized as axes(?) mundi(?)." Any insight would be useful!

  • 1
    Is the axis mundi the center of the world, or is it that which everything else revolves around?
    – RonJohn
    Jul 24 '21 at 13:00
  • @RonJohn That'd make a nice separate question! The exact meaning of the phrase and also axis in itself is worth exploring properly.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 25 '21 at 15:24

Yes, the nominative plural of axis is axes.

Mundi 'of the world' is the genitive singular of mundus 'world', and you probably wouldn't pluralize it in most contexts (presumably there's still only one world), but should it become necessary to do so, the genitive plural is mundorum 'of the worlds'.

Axes mundi reads correctly to me, for your purposes.

  • Axis mundi, "centre of [a/the/one] world"; axes mundi, "centres of the world"; axes mundorum "centres of [some/the/multiple] worlds"; and for completeness, axis mundorum "centre of the worlds". Is that correct? Jul 24 '21 at 6:42
  • @TimPederick Axis means axis/axle, not centre, but otherwise yes.
    – Cairnarvon
    Jul 24 '21 at 12:52
  • @Cairnarvon the axle is in the center of the wheel.
    – RonJohn
    Jul 24 '21 at 12:59
  • @Cairnarvon: I was just using OP's phrasing. Jul 24 '21 at 14:12
  • @RonJohn The nose is in the centre of the face and you'd still be wrong to translate nasus as centre.
    – Cairnarvon
    Jul 24 '21 at 15:07

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.