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45 votes
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Did the Romans use any swear words?

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 (a pejorative term for a 'bottom'), mentula (male genitalia),...
cmw's user avatar
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20 votes
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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 ...
cmw's user avatar
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18 votes

Does it make sense to display a decimal number such as 12.34 as Roman numerals? If not, how else?

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 ...
cnread's user avatar
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16 votes
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Did the Romans use dictionaries to check what words mean?

Not really. 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 ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
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16 votes
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Term for the water/wine ratio chooser?

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 ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
15 votes
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Does liberi only refer to free children?

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 ...
fdb's user avatar
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15 votes
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How did the Romans call their currency?

Question 1 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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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14 votes
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What did a *cellarius* do?

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, ...
Penelope's user avatar
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12 votes

What would the ancient Romans have called Hercules' Club?

I'm not sure we have direct evidence of this particular pendant, but we do have what the Romans called the club and what they called pendants in general. The club is called the clava. Varro (LL 8.26.6)...
cmw's user avatar
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11 votes

What is the largest online Latin speaking community?

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 ...
Canned Man's user avatar
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11 votes
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Do Roman numerals stand for something?

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 ...
cmw's user avatar
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11 votes
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Why did Roman children call their father 'tata' instead of 'pappa'?

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. ...
cmw's user avatar
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11 votes
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What verb is wine made with?

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: general: making: vinum Graecum sic facito ...
blagae's user avatar
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11 votes

Hushing with a finger gesture

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,...
brianpck's user avatar
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11 votes
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Hushing with a finger gesture

The Egyptian god Harpocrates was typically depicted as a boy with his finger held to his lips. Example here. He makes a few appearances in classical literature, such as Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.692: ...
cnread's user avatar
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11 votes
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Did the Romans 'tip' for good service?

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 ...
Penelope's user avatar
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11 votes
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Does "virtus" apply to women?

Yes, they did, with some caveats. And not just women, but inanimate things as well. Here's but one example, from Juvenal's sixth satire, showing its more neutral use with which English adopted: ......
cmw's user avatar
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10 votes
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How would a servus publicus be named - using the nominative or the genitive?

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 ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
10 votes
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What did the Greeks and Romans call their pets?

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 ...
Penelope's user avatar
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10 votes

What would the ancient Romans have called Hercules' Club?

To add the Greek: the usual word for a club, including specifically Hercules' club, is ῥόπαλον rhópalon. There are various words for a pendant or amulet, including περίαμμα períamma and περίαπτον ...
TKR's user avatar
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9 votes
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How did the Romans wish happy holidays?

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' ...
cmw's user avatar
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9 votes
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Did the Romans have children's books?

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 ...
Penelope's user avatar
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9 votes
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Did the Romans have a selection game?

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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes

Does liberi only refer to free children?

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 ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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8 votes

What is the largest online Latin speaking community?

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 ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
8 votes
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Was the middle finger obscene in Ancient Rome?

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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes
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Did the Romans have a color of mourning?

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 ...
Penelope's user avatar
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8 votes
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How did dogs and wolves compare in the Roman mind?

It seems that interbreeding between wolves and dogs was deemed possible in Roman culture at least at the time of Pliny the Elder (I cent. CE.) But so was the idea of interbreeding between dogs and ...
Rafael's user avatar
  • 11.5k
8 votes

Did the Romans 'tip' for good service?

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 ...
Expedito Bipes's user avatar

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