20 votes
Accepted

Did ancient Romans develop cryptography for Latin?

Yes. We know that Caesar was famous for using a cipher, which is still named for him: Some letters of his to the senate are also preserved, and he seems to have been the first to reduce such ...
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19 votes
Accepted

What did the Romans use to close their letters?

If you have a look at Cicero's letters, many of them do not have any valediction at all. In a pair of letters exchanged between Q. Metellus and Cicero (Cic. Fam. 5.1-5.2), the two men simply stop and ...
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18 votes
Accepted

Meaning of "S. P. D." in letters

SPD is likely an acronym for Salutem Plurimam Dicit. When used in the phrase [Person X] salutem plurimam dicit [Person Y] it literally becomes Person X sends many greetings to Person Y Person ...
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17 votes

Meaning of "S. P. D." in letters

I'll just expand slightly on @HDE226868's excellent and correct answer and say that the literal translation of salutem plurimam dicit is "says very much health." Another version you're likely to see ...
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12 votes

Does the "re" in emails have an ancient origin?

Yes, it does have an ancient origin. See RFC 5332 (3.6.5): When used in a reply, the field body MAY start with the string "Re: " (an abbreviation of the Latin "in re", meaning &...
12 votes

How do you say "How is the weather"?

You could say: Qualis tempestas est? This usage appears in Historia Ecclesiae Gandershemensis: …ut audirent [...] qualis tempestas esset …that they might hear how the weather was. However, ...
11 votes

How do you say "How is the weather"?

One option worth considering is: Quale est caelum? Literally: "What is the sky/weather/air like?" Aulus Cornelius Celsus writes in De Medicina 3.4: Refert enim qualis morbus sit, quale ...
8 votes

Does the "re" in emails have an ancient origin?

Re was certainly used with the same meaning, as stendarr points out in another answer, but it was not used in the same manner. For example, Cicero did not start his letters with it, although there ...
8 votes
Accepted

Where did pluralis-ut-singularis come from in Latin?

There are three commonly recognized types of nosism, in which the plural first-person pronoun is used rather than the singular: the pluralis societatis ("social plural"), pluralis modestiae ("plural ...
8 votes
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Signing your name: vocative or nominative?

Nominative. The vocative is only used to directly address someone, and at the end of a letter you are not speaking to yourself. One way to see this is to expand the signature to a sentence. It might ...
7 votes

Where did pluralis-ut-singularis come from in Latin?

In addition to Nathaniel's excellent answer, we offer this quotation from Ennius: Liber VII Ennii de Naevio sententia: scripsere alii rem 231 Versibus quos olim Faunei ...
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7 votes

What does “fac posse” mean in Epistulae ad Atticum VII.22?

Facio can be used to introduce a hypothetical, as L&S shows: To make believe, to pretend: facio me alias res agere, Cic. Fam. 15, 18: cum verbis se locupletem faceret, id. Fl. 20: me unum ex iis ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Clarifications regarding translation of the phrase "Id agendum est ut satis vixerimus"

Id agendum est… This is a construction called the gerundive of obligation. Literally, this means "it must be done" or "it should be done"; the "it" here is somewhat ...
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7 votes
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Are there any surviving Ancient Greek letters (epistolary)?

There are, plenty. This article contains a very comprehensive reference lists regarding Greek Epistolary research, including references to letters and collections of letters. Unfortunately, you need a ...
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7 votes

Are there any surviving Ancient Greek letters (epistolary)?

There is a collection of Plato’s letters, some, if not all, of which are generally considered to be authentic. There are also the letters of Xenophon, again of contested authenticity. But these both ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Latin phrases in 1787 letter from Danish bishop

istud vero profecto = but this in fact sic autem in fatis est = but/now as fate would have it // but/now it was fated that // but such was my fate
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6 votes
Accepted

Why did Cicero switch from "abs te" to "a te" in his later works?

It seems to be a case of simple regularization. As L&S point out, abs is rarely used before a word other than te; a Packard search yields only ten such cases vs. 277 of abs te (and two of the ten ...
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6 votes
Accepted

How to say "I look forward to hearing from you" in Latin?

Would something as simple as Té (vós) summé præstolámur. or Scító (-óte) té (vós) valde exspectátum (-ós). do the trick? (I'm going with your real meaning rather than the specific sentence you ...
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5 votes
Accepted

How to break up in classical Latin?

In poems 24 and 25 of book 3 (which some editors see as together comprising one poem), Propertius breaks up with Cynthia. He states this most clearly in this excerpt: quinque tibi potui servire ...
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5 votes

How to break up in classical Latin?

There are plenty of books by various authorities (Balsdon, Nicolet, Cowell, Dupont . . . ) about life at Rome, covering circumstances of almost every kind imaginable, but I can't recall reading ...
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5 votes

Are there any surviving Ancient Greek letters (epistolary)?

From Poster, C. 2007. A conversation halved: Epistolary theory in Greco-Roman antiquity. In Letter-writing manuals and instruction from antiquity to the present. Edited by C. Poster and L. C. Mitchell,...
4 votes

Latin terms in (medical) clinical letters - UK

I'm in Australia, not the UK, but I've never encountered a GP who uses Latin either. I am, however, an ex-nurse, and I can assure you that while English is considered best practice, some Latin is ...
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4 votes

How is this Quote from Cicero's "ad Atticum 15.20.3" to be Translated?

Illi mortuo goes together as dative, "that dead man". There are two verbs elided in this sentence -- what the gods should do to the dead man, and what the dead man did to Buthrotum. The ...
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4 votes

How to break up in classical Latin?

Perhaps this would qualify as a breakup letter. By skipping a couple of lines of the second half of Ovid's Amores 3.9a we get a decent breakup note. The rest of the poem is not addressed to the soon-...
4 votes

How to break up in classical Latin?

FWIW, in societies where people marry young there is almost no courtship or status of "boyfriend and girlfriend", so I assume you also mean a breakup between married/engaged couples? NVG Mt 1,19 uses ...
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3 votes

Meaning of "S. P. D." in letters

SPD can also represent Salutem Plurimam Dat which has the same meaning as those mentioned above.
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3 votes
Accepted

How do the different numbering systems for Ambrose’s letters relate to each other?

I have found the answer, and hereby provide a table for everyone’s benefit. Zel =  Zelzer; BnM = Benedictine–Maurist; Bey = Beyenka. Cross-reference table for the enumeration of the letters of ...
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3 votes

How is this Quote from Cicero's "ad Atticum 15.20.3" to be Translated?

The relevant rethorical figure involved in the OP's fragment di illi mortuo qui umquam Buthrotum! is that of ἀποσιώπησις or reticentia, which is defined by the Hispanic rhetorician Quintilian as ...
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3 votes

What does “fac posse” mean in Epistulae ad Atticum VII.22?

Literally, "Make it to be safe (as many urge), is it even honorable?" You have it right, Fac is imperative. It is a strange construction and I could find no other examples of it. However, ...
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