In the medieval hymn, Dies Irae, there is a stanza:

Rex tremendæ majestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.

Which I guess is intended to be understood as:

King of awesome majesty,
Who freely saves those who are to be saved,
Save me, fountain of justice.

However, I don't understand how salveo is getting conjugated here. First of all, the imperative of salveo is salve, not salva, I thought. Secondly, the present indicative of salveo I thought was salvet ('he saves'), not salvas. Neither salvas nor salva even appear in standard conjugations of salveo.

What is the explanation for these forms?

2 Answers 2


This is a different verb: not salveō, salvēre (2nd conjugation), but salvō, salvāre (1st conjugation), a late Latin word meaning 'to save.'

salvo , āvi, ātum, 1, v. a. salvus,
I. to save (late Lat.; opp. perdere; "syn.: servo, conservo)," Veg. Vet. 3, 23, 3; Lact. de Ira Dei, 5, 7; Hier. Ep. 20, 4; Vulg. Isa. 4, 2; id. Amos, 2, 14; Sedul. 1, 109.

(Lewis & Short, A Latin dictionary)

  • This word, salvo, is not in my dictionary (the dictionary of CT Lewis, first published in 1891). Do I need to resort to a dictionary of medieval Latin to find such words? May 28, 2018 at 7:22
  • @TylerDurden. This particular word appears in my copy of Lewis & Short. (I copied the entry in my answer from the online version.) It isn't in my Oxford Latin dictionary though – which actually isn't surprising if it's a late Latin word.
    – cnread
    May 28, 2018 at 7:39

To answer the other part of your question: salvas is of course 2nd (not 3rd) person singular, addressing God.

  • The subject of salvas is apparently "qui" (Who), which would make it third person singular, at least in English. (He) who freely saves those needing to be saved. Or, are you suggesting it should be read as "(You) who freely saves those needing to be saved". May 28, 2018 at 13:21
  • 2
    @TylerDurden It is indeed "you who save(s)". In English the predicate may be third person in a relative clause referring to second person, in Latin the predicate has to be second person. In your quote qui is the addressee and therefore second person.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 28, 2018 at 13:34
  • 6
    As in "Our father who art (=2nd sing.) in heaven".
    – fdb
    May 28, 2018 at 13:39

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