Forests slow down army movement

Silve motum exercitus retardant.

Silva - 1st declension, plural nominative is Silve

motus - 4th declension, in accusative motum

exercitus - 4th declension, in genitive exercitus - movement of an army

retardo, retardare - 1st conjugation, indicative, plural, 3rd person - retardant

Army movement is slowed down by forests

Motus exerciti a silvis retardatur.

silvis - plural ablative of silva

retardatur - passive indicative, 1st conjugation, 3rd person singular

Are these translations correct?

In the second one is a the correct word to say by what the movement is slowed?

Am I correct in using ablative of silva here, or should it be stated differently?

I know word order is not the most fixed thing here but probably some kind of order is preferred for this two sentences? Is my word order okay, then?

  • 3
    It should be silvae and exercituum (in plural,) if I am not mistaken
    – Rafael
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:36
  • 1
    In your first example exercitus is the correct 4thConj. genitive singular, If you decide the second example should be singular keep that same gen sing. Silve is the medieval nom pl of silva. As Rafael says, it would be silvae in classical Latin, He's right about exercituum too, for 4th gen. pl.
    – Hugh
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:49
  • @Rafael @Hugh Thank you for comments. Should translation for army be exercitus in plural or in singular however?:-)
    – user1846
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:54
  • 1
    @PrzemysławP I think army as uncountable is an English-specific idiom. Just from intuition, it makes more sense to me to use the plural.
    – Rafael
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


Forests slow down army movement.
Silve Silvae motum exercitus retardant.

The only error here is misspelling the first word. The plural nominative (and singular genitive and dative) of silva is silvae.

Another question is whether exercitus should be singular or plural. If forests slow down the movement of an army or the army (one at a time), I would go with singular. However, if it refers to movement of armies in general, then I would use plural.

However, the English original is not "the movement of an army", "the movement of the army", or "the movement of armies", but "army movement". In this context "army" behaves much like an adjective, and it might be a good idea to translate it as one. You could use motus militaris (accusative as needed here: motum militarem) for "army movement". It all depends on how you exactly read the English expression "army movement".

Army movement is slowed down by forests.
Motus exerciti exercitus  a  silvis retardatur.

This is a passive version of the first sentence. The subject becomes an agent and the object becomes a subject. This is mostly executed correctly, but there are minor problems.

First, exercitus is fourth declension so the genitive is exercitus. In fact, the genitive stays the same in your two sentences, whether you choose singular or plural. If you choose an adjective instead, it has to be in the same form as motus (masculine singular nominative).

Second, the agent does not always take the preposition a(b). The rule of thumb is that a human agent (some say "animate" instead of "human") takes the preposition, but others don't. For more details, I refer you to this question about deciding which agents are human or animate.

The word order is perfectly fine in both translations.

  • Thank you for your answer. It seems however silve is acceptable, according to Hugh's comment under question and this: singular: carta, plural: carte
    – user1846
    Jul 26, 2017 at 18:36
  • I can't give a technical argument, but it just doesn't sound right to me to use exercitus as a singular noun unless the sentence is referred to a specific army.
    – Rafael
    Jul 26, 2017 at 18:38
  • @PrzemysławP The form silve might indeed be possible in later Latin, but certainly not in classical Latin. Unfortunately I'm quite ignorant of post-classical developments, so I can't comment much. I don't know if silve ever became the only option. But this is a minor detail, and depends on the Latin course you are taking or other material you are using.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 26, 2017 at 18:39
  • @Rafael In Finnish I would certainly use the singular in this situation (when referring to armies in general), although the plural would be possible too. It's no proof that it should be the same way in Latin, of course. I don't know what's idiomatic in Latin.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 26, 2017 at 18:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.