The Latin word for Athens, Athenae, is plural. Why is this?

  • 4
    I don't believe a satisfactory answer has ever been found, but see Smyth 1005: "Names of towns and parts of the body are sometimes plural: Ἀθῆναι Athens, Θῆβαι Thebes, στήθη and στέρνα breast (chiefly poetic). The name of the inhabitants is often used for the name of a city: Δελφοί D. 5.25."
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 3:49
  • @cmw So it is kind of an anomaly then, that has no regular explanation? Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 3:59
  • People have posited various reasons, but Athenae isn't an anomaly. Many cities (Syracusae, Thebae, Veii) were plural, not just Athens.
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 5:09
  • @cmw I mean anomaly in the sense that it is unexplained, not in that it is unique. Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 5:18
  • There are explanations, just none that have become consensus.
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 18:33


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