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Questions tagged [classical-latin]

Questions concerning Latin of the classical era, approximately 75 BCE to 300 CE

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Are “-que” and “et” equivalent?

I was taught that one can use the '-que' suffix to string together multiple words, in a similar way to putting 'et' between them. Are these two equivalent? Did one have a connotation in classical (...
40
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4answers
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What punctuation was used in Classical Latin?

Many Classical Latin textbooks typeset their texts with (small and capital letters and) a broad selection of punctuation, like period ., comma ,, colon :, semicolon ;, exclamation mark !, question ...
33
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1answer
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Did the Romans use any swear words?

I was reading the book Lingua Latina, Per Se Illustrata by Hans H. Ørberg, and I often saw scenes in which persons were angry. In the book, the writer doesn't use any swear words or anything to that ...
33
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2answers
452 views

What gender should a predicate adjective be to agree with a series of things with different genders?

I'd like the translate the following sentence into Latin: Pompeii, Rome, and Herculaneum are visited by the boys. However, since these three cities have different genders, I'm struggling to choose ...
32
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3answers
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How do we know how the Romans pronounced Latin?

A quick Google Search says plenty of things about Roman Latin pronunciation, and since it's an edu domain I'm inclined to believe it. However, the closest to citing a source it gets is saying "we know ...
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6answers
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How do you say “please” in Classical Latin?

I'm wondering how to say "please" in Classical Latin like "please" as in "can I PLEASE have that?" or "PLEASE go away" or something like that.
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2answers
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What's the difference between vel, aut, -ve, et cetera?

So I see "vel", "aut", and "-ve" being used (mostly) interchangeably in the Latin I read. Is there any idiomatic difference, or can they be used interchangeably? For example, is it valid Latin (and ...
25
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1answer
339 views

Are there any recorded classical Roman abbreviations of “et cetera”?

Today, there are many different abbreviations for the phrase "et cetera", including etc. &c. &ct. As far as I know, the phrase was used in the classical period - in other words, it's not ...
23
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1answer
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Why did Roman authors never feel a need for word spacing?

I have read a few excellent threads from this forum on punctuation in classical Latin. The first concerns what punctuation they used, the second concerns ancient descriptions of punctuation, and the ...
23
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1answer
2k views

Why is 'r' often rolled in modern classical Latin?

During my Latin education (using classical pronunciation), I was taught that 'r' should be 'rolled', making a sort of growling sound. For example, the r's (more the second than the first set) in ...
21
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1answer
2k views

What are the classical names of the letters of the Latin alphabet?

When I refer to letters in Latin, I (sadly) use the English names for them. If I knew the Latin names, I could apply Classical Latin pronunciation rules to say them properly. So, how was each ...
20
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3answers
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Did the Romans ever combine Greek and Latin morphemes?

Recently I was thinking about words in English which were formed from a Greek and Latin morpheme pair. An example of this is 'television', where 'tele-' is a Greek-originating prefix while 'vision' is ...
20
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1answer
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How do we know how gn was pronounced in Classical Latin?

As far as I am aware, the classical pronunciation of -gn- (as in magnus) is not [gn] but [ŋn]. How do we know that this is in fact how -gn- was pronounced?
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3answers
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What is the most common classical Latin word that we don't understand?

I assume that we do not know the meaning of every single word attested in classical and older Latin (literature, inscriptions, and other material). If this assumption is false, it makes this question ...
19
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2answers
33k views

How do you say “yes” and “no” in Classical Latin?

I'm wondering how the Romans would have said "yes" as in "yes please" or "no" as in "no thank you". I don't know if they would have said it exactly like that, but what would they have said if they had ...
19
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4answers
534 views

Why do fear clauses invert the meaning of ut and ne?

In a fear clause, we'd write something like this: Timeo ne angue necer I fear I will be killed by a dragon As usual, my Latin writing is bad, and I only barely remember passive subjunctive. ...
19
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1answer
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Are there examples of passive imperative forms of non-deponent verbs in ancient literature?

Imperative forms and deponent verbs are quite common ancient Latin literature, and imperative forms of deponent verbs also occur. But are there examples of passive imperative forms of non-deponent ...
19
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1answer
427 views

Did ancient Romans raise the intonation of their voices when asking questions?

I understand that in Classical Latin, when someone asks a question, the -ne causes stress patterns for some words to be modified, so that both the -ne and the new stress pattern indicates that the ...
18
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2answers
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In Classical Latin, what was the geographic extent of “Asia”?

On the first page of Lingua Latina per se Illustrata, students review a map of the Roman Empire, which is marked with the names of three continents and several smaller regions. The borders of the ...
18
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1answer
535 views

What were used as “filler” words in Classical Latin?

Do scholars have any idea what "words" were used as filler words in Classical Latin, similar to uh and um in English? Surely Cicero and other great orators instructed their pupils to never, ever say &...
17
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3answers
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What did Romans call their language?

I was taught that Latinus is an adjective related to the area of Latium. Latin would be called lingua Latina, "the language of Latium", never merely Latina. There is a single-word expression referring ...
17
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3answers
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Non-typographical evidence of V being pronounced as [w]

According to a consensus of Latin scholars, the letter V in ancient Latin was pronounced as [w]. This seems to make sense, because there was no distinguishing between V and U, so the letter V could ...
17
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4answers
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Did the Romans derive verbs from names?

I know the Romans did derive verbs from nouns (laudare, finire, lucere…), but did they ever derive verbs from names? The Greeks did, for example forming homerizein (ὁμηρίζ&...
17
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3answers
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Would it be good Classical Latin style to always use the preposition “ab” and never “ā”?

I understand from Lingua Latina per se Illustrata (chap. 6) that the prepositions ā and ab are equivalent, except that ā is used only before words beginning with consonants, while ab can be used ...
17
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1answer
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Why are the words for “children” (liberi) and “book” (libri) so similar?

While working in class, I came across this. They have a similar spelling, yet mean completely different things. Is this just random or does it have an actual purpose in the Latin language? Book = ...
17
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1answer
240 views

What have we learned about Latin in the last century?

I have studied Latin, but in none of the courses I have taken has there been discussion about any progress in understanding Latin. I do believe — and hope — that classically oriented ...
17
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1answer
224 views

Can “si etiam” have the same meaning as “etiam si”?

As is well known, "etiam si" is a Latin conjunction that means "even if." Are there any examples in Classical or Medieval Latin in which reversing the word order and saying "si etiam" preserves the ...
16
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2answers
744 views

Why is the “u” in “nuntius” and “nuntiare” long by exception?

First of all, a warm hello to all the users here! I was recently thinking about the pronunciation of nūntius and nūntiāre along with its derivatives (such as prōnūntiāre). According to "Latin for ...
16
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3answers
632 views

Did the Romans use dictionaries to check what words mean?

Did Romans or other ancient users of Latin have lists of difficult words with explanations in Latin? I mean dictionaries composed entirely in Latin, not dictionaries between Latin and another language....
16
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2answers
688 views

When did the consonant U (i.e., V) begin to be pronounced as the fricative [v] instead of [w]?

It's well established that the consonantal u (or v) was pronounced as [w] in Classical Latin (i.e., w as in wine). Of course, Romance languages developed voiced fricatives out of this u-consonant, ...
16
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2answers
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What is the most neutral word for “shield”?

As you know, Latin language has several terms for what we call "shield", namely clipeus, scutum, parma, pelta etc. I'm just wondering which among them is the most "neutral" or "common" word that ...
16
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1answer
480 views

How did Roman babies talk?

Following a chat discussion, I want to know if we have any written record or general indication of how Latin was spoken by young children. Most languages that I know have several distinct ...
16
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1answer
507 views

What is an overview of the differences between Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin?

I'm aware of some of the differences in pronunciation between the two, and perhaps this can be covered in greater detail elsewhere, but are there also any other key areas of differences (with perhaps ...
16
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1answer
158 views

Which Roman Numerals were used to express extremely large numbers in Classical Latin?

According to Wikipedia, there are two notable ways to render large numbers, reaching up to hundreds of thousands and higher: apostrophus and vinculum. The first uses a system of expanding rings, so ...
15
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3answers
453 views

Was the plural future imperative ever used?

In Latin today, we ran across the word "esto", which our teacher told us is the future singular imperative of "sum, esse". When I half-jokingly asked what the plural was, he thought for a few seconds ...
15
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1answer
475 views

How does forem compare to essem?

The verb esse has two sets of imperfect conjunctive forms: essem, esses, esset… and forem, fores, foret… What is the difference between these two, in meaning and in use? Are there cases ...
15
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2answers
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Where to find ancient mathematics in Latin?

I am a professional mathematician and an avid Latinist, and I would like to be able to read and write mathematics in Latin. I prefer classical style, so I would like to read some ancient mathematical ...
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2answers
868 views

How did Rome transform from republic to empire in Latin?

I would like to understand how Rome transformed from republic to empire from the point of view of Latin language. I think I already have a sufficient understanding of Roman history to understand the ...
15
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1answer
2k views

What's the difference between amare and diligere?

In honor of the day (at least in the US): what specific differences can we point to in the usage of amo and diligo, as well as their corresponding nouns amor and dilectio? Lewis and Short indicates: ...
15
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1answer
156 views

How would a Roman refer to a great-great-great- . . . -great-grandparent?

Referring to progressively more distance ancestors, I would list my Pater (father) Avus (grandfather) After this point, it gets a bit shaky. This, for example, gives past ancestors as Proavus (...
15
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1answer
284 views

Were mnemonics used to teach Classical Latin?

Latin has quite a complex grammar and many mnemonics have been used in the past as a memory aid. A famous example is the rhytmic "rosa rosa rosam" which is used to teach the first declension. It was ...
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4answers
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What would be a “night owl” in Latin?

On the recommendation of an esteemed Finnish member of our forum, I decided to ask how one would translate "night owl" into Latin. night owl (noun) a person who keeps late hours at night I ...
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2answers
523 views

What is the difference between -us and -io?

One can derive nouns from verbs by attaching -us or -io to the perfect participle stem. For example, movere gives rise to motus (fourth declension) and motio. The meanings of these derived words are ...
14
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1answer
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What was a draco?

The Latin dictionaries I checked suggest that the word draco is attested in classical literature and it is often translated as "dragon". However, it is my impression — which may well be wrong! &...
14
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1answer
119 views

Can I put multiple words in a list, with “-que” on the last one?

As a sort of followup to Are "-que" and "et" equivalent?, I'd like to know if this would be considered a valid construction (in classical-latin): Arma virum navesque cano (...
14
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2answers
349 views

What does “quibus intemptata nites” (Odes 1.5.10–11) mean?

I'm currently reading Horace's Odes 1.5, and on lines 10–11 there's an odd construction: ...Miseri, quibus intemptata nites... Now, as far as I can tell, this literally means "Wretched people, ...
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1answer
386 views

Omnia vincit amor: vincere or vincire?

The phrase omnia vincit amor (from Vergilius' tenth Ecloga; see full text in Latin and English) is typically translated as "love conquers everything". However, vincit can come from either vincere (to ...
14
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1answer
660 views

Examples of the use of Claudian letters (Ⅎ, Ↄ, Ⱶ)

Emperor Claudius introduced three additional letters to the Latin alphabet: Ⅎ, Ↄ, and Ⱶ. What are some examples of the words in which these letters were used?
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1answer
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Did Romans distinguish between black and blue?

Did the Romans distinguish between black and blue? Or, more generally, what do we know about their color system? I was wondering because many of the modern Roman languages use either Arabic or ...
14
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2answers
169 views

When did Caesar's works begin to be used to teach Latin to non-native speakers?

Eleanor Dickey, a professor of Classics, responded recently to a question about the works read by those learning Latin as a second language in the Greek-speaking ancient world: [Students in the ...