In my experience it is extremely common to say, for example, rex Romanus instead of rex Romae. In fact, I do not recall ever seeing a genitive when a local adjective can be used. Translating to English, this means that the Romans would much rather say "Roman king" than "king of Rome". This kind of preference varies from language to language.

In Finland we have two separate entities called The Academy of Finland and The Finnish Academy (of Science and Letters). To keep these two clearly distinct in Latin, it seems that I should call them Academia Finlandiae and Academia Fennica (scientiae litterarumque). In my opinion it is not enough for the distinction to call one of them Academia Fennica and the other one Academia Fennica scientiae litterarumque; there should be a difference in the key part of the name. But is there any classical precedent for a name like Academia Finlandiae as opposed to Academia Fennica?

Are there examples in classical Latin where an expression like rex Romae is used where rex Romanus would also be possible? The noun does not have to be rex and the adjective or genitive can be related to any place. I am just looking for examples of the general phenomenon — if there are any. If you think there are no such examples, explaining why that is the case is a good answer.

The preference of adjectives to genitives goes beyond places (see e.g. this question for a discussion of avis noctis and avis nocturna), but I want to restrict my attention to locations here.

  • 1
    It depends on the noun, I think. The phrase rex Romae works because, I would maintain, Romae is an example of a so-called objective genitive; it really means 'king over Rome.' The same doesn't, however, work for other nouns, like civis. 'Citizen of Rome' is always (at least in classical Latin) civis Romanus, never civis Romae, unless Romae is in apposition to urbis (civis urbis Romae).
    – cnread
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 6:53
  • @cnread It never occurred to me that it might make a difference. They eventual goal is an understanding of Academia Finlandiae/Fennica. I would very much like to read more on that if you can write up (or link to) something. That the nature of the noun makes a difference would be a very interesting answer.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 8:33
  • I would supply "rex romanae (urbis)" if I were reading this on my own.
    – Nickimite
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 4:23
  • @Nickimite That's a natural reading if it's rex Romanae, but not with either of rex Romanus & rex Romae. Or did you mean rex urbis Romae?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 8:48
  • Either way -- I just meant that I would supply a noun for the adjective 'Romanus-a-um' to modify. I wouldn't use the objective genitive as cnread does.
    – Nickimite
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Of course. The genitive exists for a reason. Examples:

  1. rex Romae
  2. rex Aegypti
  3. regina Aegypti

It can also be done of peoples:

  1. Rex Romanorum
  2. Rex Gallorum
  • In the case of rex Romae, I don't think it's at all clear from your 2 passages that Romae is genitive rather than locative. In fact, the verb constitueretur in the first passage seems (to me, at least) to make Romae pretty definitively a locative: 'so that a king might be installed in Rome.'
    – cnread
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 1:40
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    @cnread On that particular case, it's fully ambiguous. "So that a king of Rome might be installed" is possible, though certainly it could be locative. I wouldn't call it definitive, though. Still, the other two examples sets of examples are highly unlikely to be locative, and are bolstered by the phrase rex Romanorum.
    – cmw
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 3:04
  • 3
    "Romulus, primus Rex Romae, bene regnabat." Also from Livy. Dunno if that helps.
    – Johan88
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:44

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