11

There are many Latin words for relatives: father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, cousin… Different languages have slightly different sets of words for relatives and some words don't point at a unique kind of relative. For example, the English "uncle" can mean a father's brother or a mother's brother and the Finnish "käly" means a spouse's sister or a brother's wife. I don't exactly know what family words exist in Latin, apart from the most common ones.

I would like to have a complete list of Latin words for relatives. It can be in the form of a family tree or simply as a list with written explanations. Where can I find such a list?

Going through a dictionary and trying to compile such a list would be tedious, since I don't know what to look for. Therefore it would make a huge difference to have a list. Even a list without translations would do; I can check the meanings in a dictionary once I know what to look for.

The list I found on this page looks good, but I don't know if anything is missing.

10

Each new paragraph shows a new generation (g means 'great'). Enclosures within (brackets) indicate the maternal side :

tritavus = tritavia g.g.g.g.grandfather, mother

atavus=atavia g.g.g.grandfather, mother

patruus maximus g.grand uncle — amita maxima aunt — abavus *grandfather(=abavia — avunculus maximus g.grand uncle — matertera maxima aunt)

patruus maior g.g.grand uncle — amita maior aunt — proavus *grandfather(=proavia — avunculus maior g.g.grand uncle — matertera maior aunt)

patruus magnus g.grand uncle — amita magna aunt — avus *grandfather(=avia — avunculus magnus g.grand uncle — matertera magna aunt)

patruus uncle — amita aunt — pater father=(mater *mother — avunculus uncle — matertera aunt)

frater or levir brother/wife’s brother-in-law — soror sister — MARITUS=(UXOR — uxoris frater *husband’s brother-in-law — uxoris soror or gloshusband’s sister-in-law

filius son = nurus *daughter-in-law — filia daughter =gener son-in-law

Note 1. Contemporary with pater=mater are socer father-in-law and socerus mother-in-law. The parents of these two are prosocer and prosocerus

Note 2. Cousins, whether the children of patruus/amita or avunculus/matertera are consobrinus and consobrina

Note 3. The grandchildren of MARITUS=UXOR are nepos and neptis, whose respective spouses are pronurus and progener. Their great-grandchildren are pronepos and proneptis.

Note 4. There are no special terms for nephews and nieces who are described as filius/filia of fratris/sororis.

Finally, there is an extra set to cover step-relations. If you think they are useful to you, or you would like them simply for the sake of completeness, they are novercus, stepmother and vitricus, stepfather. The step-children are privignus and privigna.

9

Erasmus has a complete list of vocabula affinitatum ("words for in-laws") in his Colloquia. This is post-classical, but Erasmus's Latin rivals that of Cicero. This definitely has some overlap with the previous answer:

Maritus: husband
Uxor: wife
Socer: father-in-law (wife's father)
Socrus: mother-in-law (wife's mother)
Gener: son-in-law (daughter's husband)
Nurus: daughter-in-law (son's wife)
Levir: brother-in-law (husband's brother) - "Levir dicitur ab uxore ut Helena Hecto rem levirum vocat quod esset nupta Paridi"
Glos: sister-in-law (husband's sister)
Fratria: sister-in-law (brother's wife)
Vitricus: step-father (mother's husband)
Noverca: step-mother (father's wife)
Privignus: step-son (wife or husband's son)
Privigna: step-daughter (wife or husband's daughter)

Conspicuously absent are words for "wife's brother," "wife's sister," "sister's husband," and possibly more. I made no effort to verify these words, but I'll try to look into this further when I have time.

And going a bit further, he also gives some less legitimate affinitates:

Rivalis: wife's lover
Pellex: husband's lover ("ut Thraso rivalis est Phaedriae et Europe pellex est Junoni")

  • 1
    Interestingly, Cicero Fin V. 23. 65, Quae nata a primo satu, quod a procreatoribus nati diliguntur et tota domus coniugio et stirpe coniungitur, serpit sensim foras, cognationibus primum, tum affinitatibus, deinde amicitiis, post vicinitatibus, tum civibus . . . . distinguishes affinitas from cognatio. – Tom Cotton Feb 12 '17 at 9:52
4

I drew a family tree based on Tom Cotton's answer:

Familia mea

Some of the tree is hidden and the quality of the picture is not great. To explore more, see the dynamical family tree online.

If anyone knows a tool for making the whole tree visible at the same time (or wants to draw the tree), I would be happy to know.

  • Amazing! Why did you open the tree branch to the right? Maybe to the center would have been more neat? – luchonacho Jul 11 '18 at 11:35
  • @luchonacho Thanks! This was a fun little project for the first day of my vacation. I chose to focus on paternal ancestors (as I imagine a Roman would). That's the way the software positions the people. It would not not allow me to change some of the left-right orientations that I find clumsy, nor expand everything at once. I agree, a central positioning would look better. I just picked the first reasonable-looking free online tool, and I'm open to ideas. I think this tree deserves to be neatly formatted somewhere in the internet. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 11 '18 at 11:41
4

And here's a visual representation of a Roman family.

You can see the words PATER, VXOR, and F (filius).

enter image description here

cf. another very famous inscription - the Epitaph of Agrippina the Elder (i.e. Caligula's mother), CIL 6.886:

enter image description here

  • 2
    Do you know if it was more common to see uxor rather than mater in this context? It would be interesting if all relations were defined relative to the paterfamilias. – brianpck Feb 13 '17 at 17:28
  • @brianpck That would make a great question! That kind of naming convention would make sense, but I've never heard of anything about the topic. – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 15 '17 at 20:21
  • @brianpck It certainly wouldn't be mater, since it's not the tomb of the underage son. That said, daughters, mothers, and wives are frequently mentioned, but unless they share their husband's tomb, they have their own epitaph. See here e.g. This is largely my impression from seeing hundreds of epitaphs in Rome, so it might be different outside the urbs. – C. M. Weimer Feb 16 '17 at 2:49
  • @brianpck I just added another example. – Alex B. Dec 11 at 4:22

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.