Questions tagged [roman-culture]

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32
votes
1answer
6k views

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 ...
16
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3answers
681 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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1answer
542 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 ...
16
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1answer
507 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 ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Does liberi only refer to free children?

This issue came up in an answer and comments to this earlier question about comparing liberi and filii, and I think it's important enough to be treated in a separate question. Also, the answer to this ...
12
votes
2answers
194 views

Why would avoiding olive oil be a negative thing?

In Horace's Odes 1.8, Horace criticizes his ex's new boyfriend by saying, among other things, that: ...olivum sanguine viperino cautius vitat... which, roughly, means He avoids olive oil more ...
12
votes
1answer
224 views

How would a servus publicus be named - using the nominative or the genitive?

I was reading this encyclopedia entry on Roman naming, and it discusses the naming of Roman slaves. Originally, slave's name was the name of his master + "puer". During the age of the Roman Republic, ...
11
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1answer
2k views

Why did Roman children call their father 'tata' instead of 'pappa'?

I was reading a text from Hans H. Øberg, and I saw in the text the following sentences: Noli dicere 'tatam' et 'mammam', Iuliola! Ea nomina a te audire nolumus. Ita loquuntur parvuli infantes, nec ...
11
votes
1answer
692 views

What is the largest online Latin speaking community?

I noticed that many online places where Latin could be spoken are dead (unlike the language itself). Where can I practice Latin online? Is there any chat or forum that is really active?
10
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1answer
621 views

Term for the water/wine ratio chooser?

What's the Latin word for the person at cena who decided whether more or less water was added to the wine to keep the party going steadily?
10
votes
1answer
522 views

Do Roman numerals stand for something?

This may be an incredibly obvious question, but if so it's not immediately clear to me and probably deserves a question here. Two Roman numerals seem to have an obvious parallel to an existing word: ...
9
votes
3answers
170 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 ...
9
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1answer
242 views

How did the Romans call their currency?

I wanted to make a kind of western-style WANTED-poster in Latin, and I got a few questions about it. My questions: how did the romans say WANTED on a poster? I was doubting between the words ...
9
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2answers
161 views

Is *Numidius* an Ancient Roman name?

Is Numidius an Ancient Roman name (probably a nomen gentilis) or is it spurious and caused by corruption of other names? What I have found so far: The name Ummidius (that is clearly and unmistakably ...
9
votes
2answers
119 views

Latin quote about a million doggerel verses

I distinctly remember from a class at some point a disparaging remark by a Latin poet about other less accomplished poets who churned out "a million hexameters a year", obviously implying terrible ...
9
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1answer
241 views

Was the middle finger obscene in Ancient Rome?

I was recently reading a work where I became (re)acquainted with the fact that the middle finger can be referred to as the digitus impudicus -- the "shameful finger" -- in Latin. My question is ...
8
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2answers
774 views

Hushing with a finger gesture

I was reading Dante's Divine Comedy, and this verse caught my attention (Hell 25.45 with my translation): mi puosi 'l dito su dal mento al naso I put my finger up from my chin to my nose This is ...
8
votes
2answers
192 views

Did the Romans have a selection game?

If there are three people and only two candies — and in other similar dire situations — people sometimes choose to play some kind of game to select who is left without something or who ...
8
votes
1answer
228 views

What did a *cellarius* do?

Inspired by this question A good word for waiter or waitress I'd like to know what duties a cellarius had in antique times. The German word for waiter, Kellner, is a loan from cellarius, but it ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What verb is wine made with?

Which verb did the Romans use for making wine? I can imagine saying vinum facio/conficio/primo and maybe some other options as well. Different verbs might emphasize different aspects or steps of ...
8
votes
2answers
481 views

Hypocorism/diminutive name forms in Roman antiquity/Latin?

I'd originally asked this on SE:H, but it was suggested that here would be more appropriate. Triggered by recently reading about the history of English names with Anglo-Saxon roots and the ...
7
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2answers
2k views

How did the Romans wish happy holidays?

The Roman year included many festive occasions. In today's world it is customary to wish merry Christmas, happy Easter, and other such things. Did the Romans do the same during their own festivals, ...
7
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2answers
120 views

Are there attested prohibition signs?

Are there preserved inscriptions or other such texts from ancient Rome that contain a prohibition? I would prefer original signs that have survived, but mentions in the literature are also interesting....
7
votes
1answer
141 views

Did the Romans have children's books?

In the same vein as our other "Did the Romans have..." questions, I would like to know: Did the Romans have any children's books? I am especially interested in preserved examples, but a second-hand ...
7
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1answer
183 views

Did the Romans have a Valentine's day?

The ancient Romans had many festivals, but did any of them celebrate friendship or love? Wikipedia mentions similarity to Lupercalia, but I consider love to be very different from fertility. I'm ...
6
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0answers
74 views

Is there any database on idiomatic expressions in Latin?

It is often said that one has an excellent command of a language when one is able to use it in an idiomatic way, which typically involves making use of Idioms and Collocations, i.a. There are many ...
5
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2answers
147 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
124 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
78 views

How to construct the title of a house: House of the Large Cups?

I have read the thread on Domus optima, but I am looking for the idiom: how did Romans title their houses (vs. describe them)? In English, I would title our place "House of the Large Cups" because ...
5
votes
1answer
280 views

What is an entrepreneur?

I am looking for a Latin word for "entrepreneur" or "self-employed" or something in that direction. My question is two-fold: Was there a word in classical Latin for someone who owns their own ...
5
votes
1answer
73 views

Generic toast in classical Latin

Was there a generic toast that Romans would say to each other when drinking, along the lines of Cheers, or Sláinte. It doesn't need to have the meaning of those so much as have the same cultural usage:...
5
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0answers
90 views

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 ...
4
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3answers
194 views

What did the Greeks and Romans call their pets?

I know that some Greeks and Romans kept pet canēs, cattī, and even dracōnēs. My question now is: what did they name them? In other words, do we have attestations of how the ancients named their pets? ...
4
votes
1answer
80 views

Did the Romans have an expression for a national day?

Did the Romans have any kind of a national day, or did the Romans have a name for the national day of some other nation? Such days go by various names in different countries (e.g. independence day or ...
4
votes
1answer
84 views

Requests with 'posse'

In English and many other languages, asking "can you close the window?" is not an inquiry on the ability to close the window but rather a request to do so. Can the (classical) Latin posse be used the ...
4
votes
1answer
41 views

Understanding a sacrifice in Horace's carmen 1.5

In Carmina 1, poem 5, Horace writes about an untrustworthy and seducing lady. He ends the poem in: (...) Me tabula sacer votiva paries indicat uvida suspendisse potenti vestimenta maris deo. ...
4
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0answers
76 views

Why was the period between Domitian and Commodus so happy and prosperous?

In my introduction to Meditations, Edward Gibbon is quoted as saying that the period between the death of Domitian and the accession of Commodus was the happiest and most prosperous in human history. ...
3
votes
1answer
316 views

Does “matrimonium” ever refer to a polygamous or homosexual relationship?

Matrimonium is the standard term in Roman legal parlance for "matrimony", along with the related term nuptiae, "wedding." My question is simply stated: In Roman classical antiquity, either by legal ...
3
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0answers
53 views

Did the Romans abbreviate the days of the week?

In current Spanish when we have to abbreviate the days of the week using only one character, in most places (but not everywhere) to tell apart martes (Tuesday) from miércoles (Wednesday) we use 'M' ...
3
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0answers
77 views

Did the ancient Romans have a myth about returning to Rome?

There is a modern myth (or perhaps rather folklore, superstition or something else) that if one throws a coin in Fontana di Trevi, faith will make them come back to Rome. Was there anything similar in ...
3
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0answers
78 views

Did the Romans give names to instances of natural disasters?

It is common to name storms. For example, a hurricane called Harvey is now over Texas. On the other hand, ancient people named deities related to various places and natural phenomena. There might be a ...
2
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1answer
65 views

Was the Roman concept of “imperium” influenced by Plato?

Early on in The Republic, Socrates contends with Thrasymachus's argument that "justice is the interest of the stronger". Socrates gives some analogies, such as the relationship that doctors have with ...