I'm making a map of Italic tribes before Roman expansion started truly kicking off outside of Latium (c. 400-350 BC), and I've decided, for immersion's sake, to translate even the key, not just toponyms, to Latin. It shouldn't be a problem for any reader who speaks Western languages, as most of the terms are easily recognizable from our languages, and those that aren't, are readily translatable on the internet. However, I'm having a problem with proper grammar, and I'm not sure I've actually understood how to form the correct grammatical forms using wiktionary. I'd appreciate help checking the phrases:

"Tribes of Italy" - either "Nationes Italicae" or "Gentes Italicae". Are they grammatically correct, and which of them is a more appropriate translation (think of tribes like Latini, Falisci, Umbri, Sidicini, Marsi..., not "greater tribes" like the Etruscans, Samnites or Greeks)?

For languages of the tribes - "Linguae Sabellicae" (not the most widespread term for Osco-Umbrian, but I think it captures the essence of the languages lying on a continuum, and not being two clearly differentiated Oscan and Umbrian laguages) "Lingua Latina/Lingua Latina et Falisca" "Lingua Sicula" (Sicel)

And as for cities and towns, could even smaller (but still important) cities/towns like the chief towns of tribes, or all of the towns in the Etruscan league, be considered "Urbs" in ancient Latium, or would it just refer to truly major cities like Rome, Syracuse and Carthage? If so, would the phrase for "large city" be "Urbes magnae" and for "other cities" be "Alias urbes"? As for towns, I assume the term "Oppida" is the way to go.

Thanks for help!

1 Answer 1


The tribes of Italy could be called populi, nationes or gentes, though I suspect gentes is the most common word of these. “Of Italy” would be Italiae, though, not Italicae.

Urbs is definitely only used for larger cities – according to some dictionaries, the distinguishing feature is a city wall – but not necessarily “truly major” cities. For example, Patavium, Aquileia and Capua were called urbes in places, and these were no major cities by any standard. I guess they had walls. Oppidum is the more general term. Big cities can indeed be called urbes magnae; major cities urbes grandes. Note that it should be aliae urbes, not alias in your example.

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    Thanks a lot for the anwser! What I meant by "Gentes Italicae" was "Italic tribes", tribes of a certain ethnolinguistic group, not "tribes of Italy", as in geographic Italy. In that case, would it be the right formulation? Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 21:59
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    @MMastro1610: Yes. Lewis & Short even cite "Italica oppida" from Tacitus. archimedes.fas.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/…
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 4:09
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    @MMastro1610 well, Italicus, -a, -um means not much more than "of or belonging to Italy," in other words, "Italian," so it does not make much of a difference. But yes, you can say that. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 11:32

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