What is the best way of translating 'at sea'? For example, "The sailors fought bravely at sea". The translation 'in mari' seems the closest to me, as opposed to the literal 'ad mare' and treatment like a locative with just 'mari'. Is 'in mari' the best/most common way of translating it? Does there exist an idiomatic expression for this?

2 Answers 2


It seems in mari would be a suitable translation of the English “at sea.”

For example, M. Tullius Cicero wrote,1

vix in ipsis tectis et oppidis frigus infirma valetudine vitatur, nedum in mari et via sit facile abesse ab iniuria temporis.

which Evelyn Shuckburgh translated into English as,2

Even in houses and towns it is difficult to avoid cold when one is unwell, to say nothing of escaping the inclemency of the weather at sea and on the road.


M. Tullius Cicero. The Correspondence of M. Tullius Cicero, Arranged according to Its Chronological Order. Ed. Purser, Louis Claude; Tyrrell, Robert Yelverton. Vol. 4. London: Longmans, 1894.

M. Tullius Cicero. The Letters of Cicero. Trans. Shuckburgh, Evelyn. Vol. 2. London: Bell, 1905.


1 Book 16, Letter 8, Section 2, p. 32–33 (Latin text)
2 Book 16, Letter 8, Section 2, p. 256 (English translation)

  • Nice answer! +1
    – ktm5124
    Mar 4, 2017 at 20:23

In this situation, you are basically selecting between different types of place constructions. From Review Latin Grammar: enter image description here

Therefore, I believe that the best choice for your purposes would be in mari, because the sentence is describing a place where. Also note how the locative would not be used for the specific place construction in this context because mare is not one of the listed "special" forms (right column).

  • 4
    The list of locative forms on this chart isn't complete; mare does have a locative, used in the phrase terra marique "by land and sea" (both locative). But I don't know if that locative mari is used by itself outside of that fixed expression.
    – TKR
    Mar 4, 2017 at 1:41
  • @TKR I meant in the case of the particular place construction in this context -- should have been more specific, sorry!
    – Sapphira
    Mar 4, 2017 at 1:43

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