I'm trying to find a fitting title for my French novel that would stand the test of translation in most European languages. I went for a Latin title but I'm not sure whether it's declined correctly.

2 Answers 2


You need the plural genitive of saeculum (an age, a century), which is saeculorum, "of the ages".

I think apex saeculorum is fine. Most educated people from European countries will instantly grasp the meaning as well as feel the gravitas of its expression in Latin. Lewis & Short report apex used to mean "the highest honor" or "the crown" in sense II.C.2 here. One of the cited passages is from Cicero, De Senectute 17.61:

Apex est autem senectutis auctoritas.

But the crowning glory of old age is influence [authority].

I am not an expert on Latin, though, so you should wait at least until this answer gets a few upvotes before accepting it, which will also allow time for a better answer or a critical comment to be posted. (I'll post a competing answer myself in a moment so people can vote on it.)


Summum, a synonym of apex and the root of English "summit" and French "sommet", might be a better translation from a purist standpoint, since I think summum is more often used in the extended sense of "the epitome" or "the pinnacle". Its meaning might be less clear, though, to people who haven't studied Latin.

I googled a little and found precedent in a couple phrases, including this line by the Venerable Bede:

Apparebunt ante summum saeculorum iudicem.

They appeared before the supreme judge of the ages.

Summum is primarily an adjective (really, a determiner), here modifying iudicem, though it is often used as a substantive.

It might appear better to use summum as an adjective like this: summum saeculum, "the peak age", but this means "the pinnacle of [a specific] century."

John Updike's short story Bech Presides has a character coin the phrase summa saeculorum, following the pattern of titles of famous works such as Summa Theologica, where the plural summa means "the high points, the main ideas", whence the English word "summary".

(Now that I've researched this and written it out, I'm definitely preferring apex saeculorum over summum saeculorum.)

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