I am looking for references to linguistic work on latinization of foreign names by the Romans from the earliest days to the early centuries AD. As this is perhaps quite a wide topic, some field review papers or books would be the best.

To elaborate, well known names, such as Brennus, Viriathus, Ariovistus, Arminius sound quite Latin. What is known about the original sounding of such names, and the transformations that they were subject to when borrowed into the Latin language?

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I am currently reading the Metamorphoses of Ovid. His practice varied. At times he latinised Greek names; frequently he just transliterated them, often preserving Greek grammatical endings. But poetry is special, and Ovid's choice would have been determined partly by the demands of metre and by the sound and rhythmic effects he wanted in particular lines. And Greek names are anyway probably a special case, given that Greek was a core part of the education of Rome's ruling classes in Ovid's day. Ovid did not even always change the '-os' ending of Greek to the '-us' of Latin.

  • That's a very good point, thank you. I certainly agree that the Greek names really were treated specially, because of the Greek cultural influence, perhaps to the point of not even sounding entirely foreign anymore--or, at the very least, un-Roman. I am more interested in understanding the process of adaptation of entirely alien names. For one, I would be very surprised if actual native names of Brennus and Arminius were, respectively, Brennus and Arminius! :) Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 3:10

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