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For questions related to history. Bear in mind that questions about only history are off-topic; there should be a connection to Latin.

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51 votes
3 answers
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Why is the language of ancient Rome called "Latin" instead of "Roman"?

Nearly every human language is named after the people who spoke it, from ancient Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek, to modern tongues such as English, German and Chinese. And then we have the language of the ...
Mason Wheeler's user avatar
38 votes
3 answers
8k views

Could all soldiers in the Roman army actually speak Latin?

I am under the impression that men for the legions of the Roman Empire were conscripted across the empire, and so Latin could not have possibly been the first language to every soldier. But could all ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
37 votes
5 answers
2k views

Accusative equals nominative for neuter words – how universal is this and why?

The first mnemonic for Latin case ending I learnt was that for neuter words, the accusative form is always identical to the nominative form. This applies even to exotic word endings like animal or id, ...
Wrzlprmft's user avatar
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31 votes
3 answers
7k views

Why does Latin have five different noun declensions?

Do they originate in particular dialects or languages that influenced Latin? Is the question even answerable? With any degree of certainty? Just curious.
davidrmcharles's user avatar
23 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why did scientists abandon Latin in their publications?

Whereas the Latin language was used by almost every scientist until the 18th century, this is a fact that since then the use of Latin in scientific publication has fastly decreased: the best example ...
Luc's user avatar
  • 2,332
23 votes
1 answer
1k views

When did the word "ly" enter the Latin language and where did it come from?

In an answer to this question, I gave examples of the word "ly" in Medieval Latin. This leads me to wonder when the term entered the language and where it came from? Because it resembles the article ...
SAG's user avatar
  • 1,022
22 votes
1 answer
4k views

A story of a king who wanted to simplify Latin grammar

I vaguely remember reading a story years ago, and it was something like this: A king in medieval Europe knew some Latin but made mistakes. I think there was something like him writing plurals ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
21 votes
3 answers
4k views

Historicity doubted by Romans

The Roman historians seem happy to mix history with myth with no discussion on the reliability of one's sources — or even a mention of the sources in the first place. I would like to imagine ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
18 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the history of scientific Latin?

Scientists up until the mid-19th century (e.g., Gauss) would frequently write scientific works in Latin. What sort of Latin would it be considered? Would Gauss's writings, for example, be considered ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 3,682
18 votes
1 answer
17k views

When and how much did Romans speak Greek?

Here are a few historical facts that most amateur ancient historians are aware of: The Romans began speaking Latin. After the conquest of Alexander the Great, Greek became a "lingua franca" in the ...
brianpck's user avatar
  • 41.5k
18 votes
1 answer
316 views

Dating the penult rule

When did initial-syllable stress give way to the penult rule? W.S. Allen suggests that the former persisted "until around Plautus's time", and provides metrical evidence from Plautus and Terence that ...
Simon Korneev's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
680 views

Did ancient Romans develop cryptography for Latin?

Did the Romans ever develop any form of cryptography, where either words were replaced with other words or letters were replaced with other letters? Do we have any remaining examples, and if so have ...
tox123's user avatar
  • 1,623
16 votes
4 answers
14k views

Why doesn't Latin have words for "Yes" and "No"?

I mean, it seems like pretty elementary words that can occur in different type of situations. Why wouldn't they exist ?
copper's user avatar
  • 971
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the first text considered Italian instead of Latin?

What is the earliest text that is considered to be written in Italian (or a predecessor thereof), and what distinguishes it from Latin? I would like to understand the first signs of Latin evolving ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
434 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 ...
Lilienthal's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
4k views

What was the symbol used for 'one thousand' in Ancient Rome?

I saw an episode of QI (Quite Interesting, a British 'quiz' show that just sort of presents trivia). I don't know the episode or when it was produced (I've searched for it on youtube but haven't found ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 727
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

"All the more so"

How, in classical Latin, did one say "all the more so" or otherwise indicate that a proposition harder than you're trying to prove has just been proven, so your proposition must be at least ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
2k views

Old vs Classical latins

In my research I found something about an old latin and that that is where the locative case comes from. So I clicked on the old latin page, and surprise, it's just an older version of latin. So is ...
tox123's user avatar
  • 1,623
13 votes
0 answers
186 views

the kiskis and kankan debate: primary sources

There's a very famous story about how in the middle of the sixteenth century the Sorbonne University filed a legal claim to the Parlement de Paris re: the correct pronunciation of qu- in Latin, viz. ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did the Romans really speak of "mare nostrum"?

I have heard a number of times that the Romans called the Mediterranean Sea mare nostrum, "our sea". But was this really the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea in any significant way? I have three ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do we know that Kalendae is the first day of a month?

I have been told that Kalendae is the first day of a month. However, the Latin dates — which was discussed in this other question — alone do not make this obvious. Dates are expressed by ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
658 views

When did the ligature for 'et' switch to the character '&'?

Firstly, I hope this question is within the scope of this exchange. I know that the character '&' predates its English name "ampersand". I have read that the name 'ampersand' had "entered common ...
terminex9's user avatar
  • 397
11 votes
1 answer
896 views

Did the Romans ever distinguish long vowels in writing?

In most modern writing of Latin, long vowels are distinguished from short vowels by using macrons (e.g, āēīōū). As far as I know, however, ancient authors rarely, if ever, distinguished long vowels ...
Ethan Bierlein's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
4k views

Origin and actual quote of the proverb "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion"

While searching for the Latin quote of the proverb "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion", I was a bit surprised because the form that I know of that proverb was "It's not enough for ...
Leonardo's user avatar
  • 213
11 votes
1 answer
551 views

What are some examples of famous brands in the ancient Roman world?

In the Wikipedia article about brands, they give a few different examples of brands that existed in antiquity. A couple examples are given for ancient Rome, such as Umbricius Scaurus, a manufacturer ...
Adam's user avatar
  • 8,592
10 votes
3 answers
306 views

Did the Romans 'tip' for good service?

I need to refer in Latin to the modern practice of 'tipping' in return for good service. I am well aware of words and phrases for 'reward', which are essentially correct for my purpose, but I should ...
Tom Cotton's user avatar
  • 18.1k
10 votes
3 answers
289 views

Did the ancients write that their sculpture is painted?

I have the impression that for a long time scholars thought that ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was unpainted, and marble statues would be wholly white, but the modern consensus is that sculpture ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

Does any historical Latin-based sign language exist?

Historically, has there ever been a "Latin Sign Language"? Perhaps the Romans developed one, or maybe the Catholic Church did so at some point? Perhaps suggesting "no," Wikipedia's list doesn't seem ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

Did the ancient Romans write on clay tablets?

I know that the most common writing media for the Latin language were papyrus, stone, wax and wood tablets. But, are there any clay tablets preserved to this day that are written in Latin? All I can ...
SOMEONE's user avatar
  • 101
10 votes
2 answers
463 views

What does a moderator do?

Classical Latin has the word moderator, which refers to someone who manages, rules, governs, directs, or moderates. I assume it does not refer to all kinds of managers, governors and such. I also ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
367 views

Mediaeval Latin adopted the Greek word 'grapheus' as '-gravius' (which led to Dutch/German 'graaf/Graf', "count"); where and when did this happen?

Philippa (2003–2009) says about the Dutch word graaf, "count", that it came from Greek grapheus "writer/scribe", through Mediaeval Latin -gravius, "royal administrative ...
Cerberus's user avatar
  • 20k
10 votes
1 answer
252 views

Quando "a fortiori" ortum est?

Quando vocabulum a fortiori (sive a fortiore) ortum est ut nomen artis legis logicæve? In quo opere scripto primum apparuit? Volo intellegere eius rationem originis verificareque verbum elisum "...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
  • 15.9k
10 votes
2 answers
928 views

Why is Latin more different and hard to learn for a Romance-language speaker than the other Romance languages?

I am a native Romanian and I can master more or less only English, French and Italian - while Spanish and Bulgarian are transparent to me: but German is not - nor Latin! It seems to me obvious that ...
cipricus's user avatar
  • 423
10 votes
0 answers
182 views

Did the Romans walk their dogs?

Here is a mosaic from Pompeii showing a Roman dog in a leash: (Image from Wikipedia.) Other similar pictures of mosaics are easy to find online, so I am confident that dog leashes were a well known ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
324 views

Translation of a passage related to the crusades

I am a historian, and I came across a text from Bauldric of Dol, a medieval historian. This text is about the crusades. I have been unable to translate the following passage. Could someone here help ...
turuncu's user avatar
  • 833
9 votes
1 answer
112 views

Historical recordings of ex tempore contemporary Latin used in university lectures?

Are there any historical recordings of fluent ex tempore Latin used in university lectures, such as for theology or philosophy courses, in academic events, or in scholastic disputations? I'm looking ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 3,682
9 votes
1 answer
411 views

Did Boethius write in Classical, Late, or Medieval Latin?

Did Boethius write in Classical, Late, or Medieval Latin? His style does not appear medieval in the Peter of Spain sense of Medieval Latin; however, it does not appear to be classical in the ...
אהרן רובין's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
743 views

Meaning of "Spiritus Libertatis"

Another question from the frequent latin expressions in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Here a character is complaining about evil followers from Spiritus Libertatis. I saw that this could ...
franksands's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
214 views

Are there Roman accounts of Easter?

Now that it is Easter time, I wonder whether the Romans wrote about Easter. I am looking for non-Christian accounts in Latin describing the events of Jesus's death and subsequent resurrection. I ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
273 views

Which ancient Latin works survived into the Middle Ages or later but are now lost?

While reading Saint Aldhelm's 'Riddles' I saw a reference to Lucan's Orpheus, a Latin poem written in the first century AD. The seventh century writer Aldhelm had a copy of Orpheus, but it is now lost ...
Scott Brown's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Origin of the Latin Language?

Latin is an Italic language which originated in the Italian peninsula, and was originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome located along the Mediterranean Sea. Similar to most European languages, ...
Quidam's user avatar
  • 1,776
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Did the ancient inhabitants of Rome who spoke Latin refer to themselves as Latins?

In Ancient Rome (8th century BC to 5th century AD), did the inhabitants use the terms Roman and Latin synonymously to describe themselves as a people?
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Both 'masculus' and 'vir' mean man/male: what's the difference?

In Latin, masculus means male. Noun masculus m (genitive masculī); second declension a male (of humans or other animals) In Latin, vir also means male. Noun vir m (genitive virī); second ...
user14417's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
245 views

Who assigned numbers to the declensions and conjugations, and why?

Why are the declensions in the order they are? If someone was learning Latin 2000 years ago, would they have used the same numbers? Would they have believed that some god assigned the numbers to the ...
onigame's user avatar
  • 253
8 votes
1 answer
353 views

What are some notable works never translated from Latin?

I guess most, if not all, of classical-period works that have survived, were translated. But I'm certain many of the medieval era works were never published in a language other than their Latin ...
d_e's user avatar
  • 11.1k
8 votes
1 answer
249 views

Extra initial Aeneid lines in 1662 M. de Marolles version

I have a 1662 version of the Aeneid, with Latin and French on facing pages, with the French having been translated by M. de Marolles, Abbé de Villeloin, [additional book info continues: À Paris, Chez ...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

Etymology of ambulance

For a while I have been curious about the etymology of the English word 'ambulance' since it seems to be derived from the Latin word 'ambulare' (to walk). This seems a strange origin for the word. ...
Stumbler's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
1 answer
573 views

Size of Latin vocabulary by period

What is the size of attested (or accepted) Latin vocabulary by period (Old, Classical, Late etc.)? I am specifically interested in the Classical period, but I have added the other ones to the ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
678 views

When did "si" become the standard word for "yes" in the Italian peninsula?

I am aware that classical Latin did not have words for "yes" and "no" in the same sense that English does. I know that they could express the idea of "yes" by either ...
David's user avatar
  • 181