I have been given as an exercise this sentence to translate into Latin: "The soldier arrived in Herculaneum, a town near the mountain".

I offered the translation of "Miles in Herculaneum pervenit, oppidum prope montem". However, the solution given to the exercise says that in the second part of the sentence, "oppidum quod erat prope montem" is preferred.

Would you consider this to be a more natural translation? My skepticism is due to the fact that the verb 'esse' is omitted so often that it seems strange that it is included in Latin where it would be shortened in English.

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    Great question: my intuition says that Latin discourages (forbids?) prepositions as attributive adjectives, but I'm not sure. In this particular case, I would probably say "oppidum monti vicinum" – brianpck May 20 '17 at 17:56
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    @brianpck That would make a good answer. Can you post it as one? – Joonas Ilmavirta May 21 '17 at 19:15

I have never seen Latin allow a construction like "a town near the mountain". It would be more idiomatic to say "a town which is near the mountain", but this might feel too heavy. However, it is precisely this idea (a relative clause) used by the solution given to you. It is fine, but there is an option.

As brianpck suggests in his comment, vicinus is a good word here. Here are some examples:

ora [...] vicina perusti aetheris
(Lucanus, Pharsalia, 9.431–433)

is fidem violat, quam in Capitolio vicinam Iovis optimi maximi
(Cicero, De officiis, 3.104)

sensit anus vicina loci
(Ovidius, Fasti, 6.399)

dixit consularem disertum vicinum consulis sibi dixisse
(Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, 2.24.3)

corpus [...] aeriis [...] vicinum
(Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 4.932–933)

tubicen uicina Curetis cum quateret [...] saxa
(Propertius, Elegiae, 4.4.9–10)

Phyllis Auentinae quaedam est uicina Dianae
(ibid., 4.8.29)

Ultima vicinus Phoebo tenet arva Padaeus
(Tibullus, carmina Tibulliana, 3.7.145)

Mantua vae miserae nimium vicina Cremonae
(Vergilius, Eclogae, 9.28)

Thybrim vicinaque Thybridis arva
(Vergilius, Aeneis, 3.500)

Genitive seems to be more common, although there are examples of dative. I would therefore suggest this:

Miles Herculaneum pervenit, oppidum montis vicinum.

Notice that the preposition in is typically not used for movement into a city.

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