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—...
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 ...
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),...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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), literally something like "needs to be ...
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
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,
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:
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
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)
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 ...
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."
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:
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) ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 Roman law but it ...
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 tigers.
I was curious and went to Pliny's Naturalis Historia.
It happens to have separate chapters for wolves and dogs. The latter happens to mention wolves and.....
Could it be Catullus 95? I quote the whole thing because it is a sustained attack on prolix poetry (unlike his own small, polished nuggets of verse) but it might be line 3 that you're thinking of. The text has gaps but most translators supply "year" after uno and assume quingenta lines.
Zmyrna mei Cinnae, nonam post denique messem
quam coeptast ...
The following is a summary of Ferri 2011. His Academia.edu account can be found here. Rolando Ferri is Professore Ordinario presso at Dipartimento di Filologia, Letteratura e Linguistica, at the University of Pisa.
Roman lexicography includes “anonymous or pseudo-epigrapha glossaries and word-lists, both monolingual (Latin-Latin) and bilingual (Greek-Latin ...
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 ...
I don’t think there is any attestation of a direct prohibition of the no smoking type for the classical period. The closest I could find is CIL VI, 2357, from Rome, but it is not a prohibition, it is a kind request:
HOSPES AD HUNC TUMULUM NI MEIAS OSSA PRECANTUR
TECTA HOMINIS SET SI GRATUS HOMO ES MISCE BIBE DA MI
NI=ne, SET=sed, MI=mihi
Passerby, the ...
For 'entrepreneur', or even 'businessman', just as in English, there are few words in Latin of such broad meaning. With the senatorial ranks officially forbidden to engage in commerce, it was left to the equestrians, who were content to manage business both for themselves and for others. Within the equestrian order there seem to have been two broad ...