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Questions tagged [classical-latin]

Questions concerning Latin of the classical era, approximately 75 BC to AD 300

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future passive imperative of a verb + fuit (perfect active indicative of 'sum') =?

Just to give you some language background from my side, I have not learned the Latin language at all, and my mother tongue is neither English nor any other Indo-European language. I am reading ancient ...
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61 views

How would I talk about supernatural “possession”?

Many stories, both ancient and modern, concern "possession": a supernatural entity of some sort takes over a human or animal body and controls it. Is there a Classical Latin word for this phenomenon? ...
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What is the equivalent of “Making someone feel he is indebted” in Greek?

There is a behavior that can arise when one does a favor for another person and after proceeds to put that person in a position they owe them something. Not to conflate in the "debt" or "indebtedness"...
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The idiom “poenas dare” is translated passively. Why?

I'm new to Latin. I've been learning for about a month. I'm wondering if anyone can explain why "poenas dare" is often translated as "to pay the penalties" instead of "to give the penalties". I feel ...
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How do you call your aunt's or uncle's spouse?

In Latin, a paternal aunt is an 'amita', a paternal uncle is a 'patruus', a maternal aunt is a 'matertera' and a maternal uncle is an 'avunculus'. However, how do you call each of these people's ...
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Is “que” or “et” better for a “God and Family” tattoo?

Hi I’m planning to have a tattoo and I would like to have a translation in Latin of “God and Family”. Which one is appropriate, "deo et familia" or "deo familiaque"?
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Is there a difference between prose stress and metric stress?

According to an earlier question, we do not know how stress was realized on classical Latin. It may have been dynamic (stressed syllables are louder), tonal (stress changes pitch), or a combination, ...
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How did dogs and wolves compare in the Roman mind?

The Romans knew both dogs and wolves. But how similar and how dissimilar did they think they were, as indicated by their literature? I am looking for an understanding about Roman views on dogs and ...
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What is “sense of humour” in Latin?

What would be a good classical Latin translation of "sense of humour"? I can find words for "humour", but I am not sure how to go about "sense of". Would one of the humour words be adequate on its own ...
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Are the pronoun-looking forms of quire attested?

The verb quire is conjugated like ire, and there are some forms that look like an interrogative or relative pronoun. Those forms are quīs and quī. Are these attested in classical ...
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644 views

What is “legendary” in Latin?

The English word "legendary" obviously comes from Latin, from the gerundive legendus, "that which is to be read". (Less clumsy wording ideas are welcome!) I might base a translation of the noun "...
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Ablative considered as an accusative

In my Latin-Italian dictionary I found this expression: arva sanguineo gyro scribo that is translated as: I draw a blood circle on the ground. But, gyro is an ablative. Why is it considered as ...
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Can I use abesse with hinc, inde, and others?

Is it idiomatic in classical Latin to combine the verb abesse with hinc, inde, or other such pronouns meaning "from somewhere"? This is surely an at least intelligible way to say "to be away from here/...
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Is 'hoc' ever pronounced short?

I have learned that the neuter nominative and accusative hoc is actually pronounced as if it were hocc. But was it exclusively hocc? Was it ever pronounced as the hoc that it looks like in the ...
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How would you say “Free Spirit” in Latin?

While I believe there may have not been a term of "Free Spirit" in Latin, if we were to translate it and retain its English meaning using Latin words, what would it be?
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Coincidental similarities between Latin and other ancient languages?

There are cases where a word in another language means something else in another one. I do not mean cognates or loan words having close but not identical meanings, but two words in different languages ...
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A quote for a relieving loss of a loved one

Is there a poem or other passage of classical Latin about the following sentiment? I prefer poetry, but good hits in prose are also welcome. It need not — and indeed should not — be the ...
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1answer
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Spelling aquaeductus together

The word aquaeductus can also be spelled aquae ductus or ductus aquae, possibly with the plural aquarum (see Lewis and Short). Spelling it separately in either order makes sense, as the aqueduct is a ...
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Latin translation for “Forwards, into a standardized world”

I'm currently doing a project for which I'd love to use some Latin phrases as mottos. One of these would be "Forwards, into a standardized world". Using some dictionaries and wild guesswork, the best ...
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Which verb do insects fly with?

Having read a question (and answer) about flies flying, I started to wonder whether flies would really fly with the verb volare. I had always somehow imagined that volare referred to more elegant and ...
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-ne as an Indication of Fear in a Question

I was recently taking a sort of multiple choice quiz on just general Latin knowledge, and I came upon one question that threw me for a loop, so to speak. The question asked which of the options best ...
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Time as a Measure of Separation

I recently can across the following phrase when watching a video about the Battle of Ilerda: With Caesar still weeks away... This got me to wondering how one would translate such a phrase. It is ...
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What would be a translation for “To have is better than not to have”?

I'm looking for a translation for "To have is better than not to have", which I want to use as a sort of motto for a project I'm doing. I have already asked some friends to help me, and they proposed "...
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Does Malta use the locative?

The locative is used to express a location in a city or a small island, e.g. Romae instead of in Roma. But it's not entirely clear which islands are small. I am currently on Malta and I'm curious to ...
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224 views

Is there a Latin source for “He who is able to laugh at himself, is invincible”?

Some time ago I came across a Latin sentence that roughly came down to: "He who is able to laugh at himself, is invincible" At the time I thought: Oh well, this must be a well known Roman saying (...
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Did the Romans have a color of mourning?

In today's western culture the color black is associated with mourning. Did the Romans have a mourning color? I am interested in a color that was physically present in time of mourning, for example in ...
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How would one convey “a snowball's chance in hell” in Latin?

As a good pessimist, I frequently wish to humorously convey extremely low probabilities. I'll often use the phrase "a snowball's chance in hell," or a variation of it, to express this: There's a ...
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How many syllables are there in 'mortuus'?

I asked yesterday why the participle mortuus has two us. When Rafael asked whether one of the us were consonantal, I had no other evidence than being taught that they are both vocalic. Arguing by ...
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71 views

Irreal condition expressed by a prepositional phrase

In English one can say: Without you I would not be here. This is roughly the same thing as: If you had not helped, I would not be here. The exact wording depends on context. In the second ...
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Garden path sentences in classical Latin

A garden path sentence is a sentence that leads the reader astray and forces them to reanalyze. The obvious first interpretation when one starts reading is a red herring and it comes clear that the ...
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167 views

What are the Latin names for the languages?

I've seen the languages' names like lingua Latīna and lingua Hispānica, but I've read that it's more common to say Latīne and Hispāne. I was wondering if someone had a list of the languages in Latin, ...
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Is “servos” accusative plural in Plautus's “is est servos ipse” and, if that's the case, why does “esse” takes accusative case there?

I have some troubles in understanding the syntax of a sentence from Plautus's Captivi, line 580; I need to add glosses. The sentence is "Nam is est servos ipse, neque praeter se umquam ei servos fuit"....
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Translation question for a Seneca epistle

I recently came across the aphorism Nam illa tumultū gaudēns nōn est industria, from Seneca's epistle "On True and False Friendship". As far as I can tell, a literal translation would be "For ...
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Comparison of participles

Participles behave much like adjectives. Do they also have comparative and superlative forms? They are easy enough to form: ferentior, dicturissimus. More precisely, are any comparatives or ...
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Why were the pronunciation of ae and oe special cases in Classical Latin?

In Classical Latin, the diphthongs ae and oe were pronounced as /ai̯/ and /oi̯/, respectively. Why was the letter e in these cases pronounced as /i/ instead of with an /e/ or /ɛ/?
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Cicero's De Finibus (looking for the original sentence that translate to “to be chosen but not to be desired.”)

I love the Stoic doctrine and I would like to know from the original text (see excerpt under), the sentence that can capture the essence of one of the Stoic doctrine, that can be translated in modern ...
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What is the difference between conjunctive present and perfect with ne?

I have seen both present and perfect forms of the conjunctive for negative orders or requests, for example ne canas and ne cecineris. What is the difference? Is one more an order and the other more a ...
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Was Classical Latin syntax complex on purpose?

Whenever I see Classical texts, the syntax of almost every sentence is really complex. On the other hand, medieval or Renaissance texts seem to have a word order that is more similar to modern Romance ...
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What is analysis in Latin?

The word "analysis" is found in some form in a number of languages, and it is of Greek origin. I could not think of a Latin term meaning "analysis" (as the word is used today, which may or may not be ...
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55 views

Does the avenger arise from bones or ashes?

A famous quote of Dido's from Aeneid 4.625 is exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor of which my preferred poetic translation is Fitzgerald's Rise up from my bones, avenging spirit ...
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1answer
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An idiom for a young-looking older person

How can I say idiomatically in classical Latin that someone is old but still looks young? Should I say bene senuit ("he has aged well"), should I use a participle like bene reservatus/retentatus, or ...
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What is “gullible” in Latin?

Did you know that Lewis and Short's dictionary doesn't contain the word "gullible"? That is an appropriate question for the first of April, but it turns out that I indeed found no trace of that word. ...
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The Aeneid “facilis descensus averno” or “facilis descensus averni”

I’m getting a tattoo of the line from the Aeneid “The descent into hell is easy” and wasn’t sure if it is “fascilis descensus averno” or “fascilis descensus averni”. Which one is it? What’s the ...
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An idiom for “on the road”

I spend much of my time travelling, and that brings all kinds of challenges. For example, it can be hard to follow my preferred diet and I don't have access to my books. How could I express such ...
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1answer
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An edition of the whole Metamorphoses for easy reading?

Is there an edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses in Latin that comes with auxiliary features to make it an easier read? I want to read it in Latin, but to make it more pleasurable, I would like support ...
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What is the meaning and history of the word Imperator?

As most people with historical interests know, the English word "emperor" is derived from Old French empereor which is derived from Latin imperator. IMHO it seems more correct to refer to a Roman ...
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Has any Latin literature survived through the Arabs?

Some pieces of Greek literature have survived only through the Arabs. But is there any classical Latin literature that has survived the same way? This could mean translations from Latin to Arabic and ...
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378 views

Where does Pliny, or any ancient author, write about a stilus plumbeus?

Researching the history of the pencil the German speaking web is full of quotes that attribute to Pliny the mentioning of a stilus plumbeus as the historical and etymological source for the word ...
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42 views

What is “Sleep debt” in Latin?

How can I say "sleep debt" or "chronically not sleeping enough" in classical Latin? I have big doubts that this term was not used by doctors, but can not find a correct translation.
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What does “et alibi” mean?

Here are few definitions, which I found, of what "et alibi" means: And elsewhere; used to terminate lists of passages in a text (link). In lists of places, et alibi (meaning "and elsewhere") is used ...