I am looking for a Latin word that describes a person who:

  • protects (is a guardian)
  • is kind to
  • takes responsibility of
  • is kind of a deity

for animals or for nature. Is there a certain word for that?

  • Welcome to the site! That list of four properties is a tall order. Can you think of a suitable word in English or any other language?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 15 '18 at 11:52
  • I couldn't find a single word for it in English or any other language, it doesn't have to satisfy/mean each of these, but as close as possible to them Oct 15 '18 at 21:41

In translation there is a problem known as 'false friends.' If you are translating French you have to take care not to translate 'sensible' as sensible. In Latin 'tutor' invites the translation 'tutor:' "A private teacher, typically one who teaches a single pupil or a very small group."

Pastor also has overtones; and (as with tutor) this subtext may suit you or be an annoyance:

Pastor: shepherd boni pastoris esse tondere pecus, non deglubere, Suet. Tib. 32. 1 A keeper: pavonum, Varr R. R. 3, 6, 5: columbarius, id. ib. 3, 7, 5: gallinarum, Col. 8, 2, 7: anserum, Dlg. 32, 1, 66.—
(the idea of a shepherd is to shear the sheep, not to flay them)

You could reverse this by using Aegis a word that in English means "The protection, backing, or support of a particular person;" and in Latin means a shield belonging to a god, occasionally a metaphor for any protection. I hope that covers divine protection in a metaphorical way with the right overtones.

Aegis (Lewis/Short) A The shield of Jupiter, Verg. A. 8, 354; Sil. 12, 720.—
B The shield of Minerva, with Medusa's head, Verg. A. 8, 435: contra sonantem Palladis aegida, Hor. C. 3, 4, 57; so Ov. M. 2, 753; 6, 78 al.

'Upilio' (Lewis/Short Dictionary)is free of these complications.

ūpĭlĭo (eollat. form of ōpĭlĭo, q. v.), ōnis, m. ovis,
I: a shepherd, Verg. E. 10, 19; App. Mag. p. 279, 35.

  • Do you mean that tutor is here a false friend? If so, it's an extraordinary idea. The underlying concept is of protection, in every English sense, as the questioner requires. On the other hand pastor (derived from pascor) is at root a herdsman, one who feeds his flock, etc. Can I invite you to reconsider your answer?
    – Tom Cotton
    Oct 15 '18 at 19:29

The word that you want is tutor, -oris. The verb that describes all the functions you require is the regular, 1st conjugation deponent tutor, tutari, tutatus, and an associated adjective is tutelaris.

[In English, a 'tutelary deity' is a 'protective spirit'.]


This might be in the wrong direction, but one option I suggest considering is Diana (cf. Greek Artemis). She is a goddess who is a kind guardian of animals. Admittedly it is a proper noun, but in some contexts you can speak of someone as a Diana.

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