Yes, they used swear words all the time! There's actually a whole book on the subject, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary by J. N. Adams. Cinaedus (the bad slang for a passive homosexual male), mentula (dick), and cunnus (cunt) are perhaps the most common and dirtiest insults. You can see on Wikipedia a larger list, too.
There's actually a nice little poem—Catullus ...
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 documents to pages and the form of a note-book, whereas previously consuls and generals sent their reports written right across the sheet. There are also letters of ...
In general, if you're going for authentic Roman numerals, you'd have to convert the decimal portion into one of the fractions that a Roman would use – or a sum of those fractions. Obviously, this is somewhat more straightforward for something like '1.5 hours' (for which there's also the single word sesquihora) than for '12.34' – though, for most people's ...
In the classical period, olive oil was considered a must-have piece of equipment for an athlete. The exact details of its use aren't known perfectly, but it appears that it was coated on an athlete's body and then covered with fine sand, in preparation for competition (especially wrestling). This would protect the body, especially from heat.
Athletes in ...
This encyclopedia entry explains that
The Greeks and Romans did not attempt a work containing all the words of their own or any foreign language; their early dictionaries were merely lists of unusual words or phrases. [. . .] One of the earliest works in Latin lexicography, by Verrius Flaccus, is De Verborum Significatu (The Meaning of Words),...
The Latin term for this is magister bibendi or arbiter bibendi, or "master of drinking." Here's some context:
After a roll of the dice, a magister bibendi was chosen. By appointing a certain ratio of water to wine to be mixed in the cups, this so-called "master of the drinking" then decided the strength of the wine to be drunk. (Latin for Dummies)
Here is the little I could glean from the literature about the actual tasks of the cellarius. Celarii are mentioned frequently enough in texts but there is very little about their tasks, unfortunately.
heating up the wine
(for all of the above see: Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, act 3, scene 2)
doctoring wine to hide ...
I wouldn't go with "wanted" per se, but fugitīvus (literally "runaway"). This comes from fugiō "to flee" and referred to rebellious slaves and military deserters. Presumably this "wanted" person is evading pursuit in a similar manner.
Tom Cotton has also suggested captandus (or captanda for a woman), ...
It is generally accepted that liberi “children” is the same word as liber “free, not slave”. So, etymologically liberi are “free-born offspring of either sex”. But it is an error to assume that the semantic scope of any given word is fully determined by its etymology. Roman authors use liberi to mean “children” without necessarily commenting on their legal ...
Cato Maior devotes a large subsection of De Agri Cultura to wine. You can read the entire text here, and as can be expected, he sticks to very simple verbs:
making: vinum Graecum sic facito
actual wine making:
plucking grapes: Hoc vinum [= has uvas] seorsum legito
trampling grapes: In orculam calcato
pressing grapes: Manu conprimito acina
It seems that corollarium was used in this sense. Lewis and Short describe the original meaning as "money paid for a garland of flowers", but elsewhere it is described more like money put in a garland "and so a free gift" (editor's note on Lucilius, Satires, 12.464).
However, here Seneca uses it in the sense of tipping for services rendered:
I found a non-classical reference to this gesture in the Metamorphoses (or Golden Ass) of Apuleius (AD 124-170):
At ille, digitum a pollice proximum ori suo admovens et in stuporem attonitus, ‘Tace, tace,’ inquit, et circumspiciens tutamenta sermonis, ‘Parce’ inquit, 'In feminam divinam, ne quam tibi lingua intemperante noxam contrahas.' (I.8)
The Egyptian god Harpocrates was typically depicted as a boy with his finger held to his lips.
He makes a few appearances in classical literature, such as Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.692:
inerant lunaria fronti
cornua cum spicis nitido flaventibus auro
et regale decus; cum qua latrator Anubis,
sanctaque Bubastis, variusque coloribus Apis,
Martial wrote a poem about Publius' dog called Issa. It begins:
Issa est passere nequior Catulli,
Issa est purior osculo columbae,
Issa est blandior omnibus puellis,
Issa est carior Indicis lapillis,
Issa est deliciae catella Publi.
Issa is naughtier than Catullus’ sparrow,
Issa is purer than a
Issa is more winning than ...
They did to a certain extent. I'm not aware of general holiday greetings, but at least for Saturnalia, they used the phrase Io, Saturnalia! Compare Martial 11.2.5:
Clamant ecce mei 'Io Saturnialia' versus
et licet et sub te praeside, Nerva, libet.
For Brumalia, they would greet each other with vives annos,1 although it's uncertain how early this ...
Yes, children did call their fathers papa, though it was not as common as tata was, at least we think.
Both names are inherited from Indo-European as you can see and are even present in English: cf. paw or papa (also the origin of grampa) and dad or daddy.
Etymonline, though, says that in English papa comes via French:
papa n. "father," 1680s, from ...
The middle finger is mostly known from Greek comedy, but it is also mentioned in some Latin sources.
Martial's Epigram 28, lines 1–2:
Rideto multum qui te, Sextille, cinaedum
Dixerit et digitum porrigito medium.
"Laugh at the man who calls you a faggot, Sextillus, and extend your middle finger."
My old Latin teacher jokingly taught that it's all based on hands. I for a single finger; V for the shape of the space between the thumb and the fingers when a palm is put up; and X for the shape of two hands crossing.
It's a cute theory, but really the numerals come from Etruscan. The standard article is Paul Keyser's 1988 article "The Origin of the Latin ...
Casting lots ("sortition")
The most standard means of making a random selection was drawing lots (sortēs): everyone involved would put their names into a container, then one would be drawn out at random.
convenere viri deiectamque aerea sortem
accepit galea, et primus clamore secundo
Hyrtacidae ante omnis exit locus Hippocoontis
In Petronius, Satyricon 64, Trimalchio's favorite, Croesus, has an 'indecently fat black puppy' (catellam nigram atque indecenter pinguem) named Margarita, which means 'pearl', and Trimalchio himself has a dog, the 'bulwark of the house and household' (praesidium domus familiaeque) named Scylax, which is Greek for 'young dog' or 'puppy'.
In the meantime, ...
For actually speaking Latin (or Ancient Greek), I would recommend Latin & Ancient Greek Chat. The chats are hosted by a magister, and the group is very welcoming. Be advised, though, that unless you have already engaged in some Latin conversation, you may find it difficult the first times you take part, not due to the community there being negative in ...
This is not a full answer, but I can't resist giving it.
If you can specify your question, you are likely to get more specific answers.
The online Latin community I suggest is this site.
As you have no doubt noticed, our main working language is English and the user interface is in English, but using Latin to ask and answer questions is always allowed.
Stephen Wilson's The Means of Naming provides insight into the naming of Roman public slaves. His discussion touches on the sources of personal names and names of slaves owned privately, but also includes treatment of the naming of the servus publicus.
First, he notes that the phrase servus publicus, or part of it, was often part of their name:
Quintilian, in The Orator's Education (1.1), writes at some length about teaching children, in particular children under the age of seven, how to read.
He feels that they should learn to recognise the shapes of letters as well as their names and, to this end, he recommends they use ivory letter-shapes (eburneas litterarum formas) or anything they enjoy ...
Black is mentioned as the colour of mourning in several places.
Upon hearing of the death of her sister, Procne:
induiturque atras vestes
put on black clothes
Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.568a
Althaea did the same when she saw her slaughtered sons in the temple - 8.448
Again, when Vitellius heard of the defection of his soldiers:
It's often held that the practice of tipping began in England around the 16th century, but there's some difference of opinion on the subject. For example:
There are a few versions for the origin of tipping. Hemenway (1993)
claims that tipping was known as far back as the Roman era and is
probably much older. Schein, Jablonski and Wohlfahrt (1984) ...
There are various epigraphical references of Numidius as a nomen:
CIL VIII 23074 (Ain Batria): Aurelius Numidius Pnsi
CIL X 3824 (Capua): Cn(aeum) Numidium / Astragalum
CIL XIV 3627 (Tivoli): C(aius) Numidius Qua/dratus
ILCV 297 (Santa Maria Capua Vetere): Murrius / Numidius
PanDeser 64 (Berenice): C(aius) Numidius Eros
In CIL ...
It is easy to forget how different cultural assumptions can be. Nowadays, a bath is for hygienic purposes, and private. For the Romans, though, a visit to the baths was social and cultural; the actual ablutions consisted of rubbing olive oil on the skin and then scraping it off (together with the accumulated dirt and sweat) using a strigil.
So this may be ...
The OLD says: liberi "sons and daughters, children (in connection with their parents)."
First of all, it is important to remember that, as Osgood 2011 puts it,
"... it was of great concern to determine the legal status of any children born: Romans guarded citizenship rights jealously" (p. 76; emphasis mine - Alex B.).
I'm no expert in ...