More Gentile Suffixes

In my last post, I introduced what Allen and Greenough refer to as ‘gentile’ adjectival suffixes—these relate the idea of ‘relating to’ or ‘pertaining to’ or ‘belonging to’. -ānus performs this function, but so do a host of similar suffixes:

-ēnus, -īnus, -ās, ēnsis, -cus, -acus, -ācus, -icus, -eus, -ëius, -icius

Let’s look at a few examples of these adjectives in action—

  • Nox serēna mentem quiēvit: a calm night calms the mind. (sērus, -a, -um, late)
  • Officium cīvicum fācite: do your civic duty! (cīvis, -is, citizen)
  • Navis Siciliēnsis in portū visa est: A Sicilian  ship was seen in the port.

Like the suffix -anus, the rest of these can also pan out into nouns as well as adjectives.

  • laniēna, -ae, a butcher’s stall (lanius, -ī, butcher)
  • inquilīnus, -ī, a lodger (incola, -ae, an inhabitant)
  • ruīna, -ae, a collapse (ruō, fall)
  • doctrīna, -ae, learning (doctor, -ōris, teacher)

The Essential AG: 249.1, 249.2, 249.2a

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-ānus, or Relating to Old Women

A number of adjectival endings denote what Allen and Greenough refer to as a ‘gentile’ relationship—demonstrating ‘relation to’ or ‘belonging to’ the corresponding class of nouns. One of these is -ānus, -a, -um.

  • montānus, -a, -um, of mountains (mōns, montis, mountain)
  • veterānus, -a, -um, of veterans (vetus, veteris (adj), old)
  • antelūcānus, -a, -um, before daylight (ante lūcem, before light)
  • Rōmānus, -a, -um, Roman (Rōma, -ae, Rome)
  • Sullānī, -ōrum, of Sulla’s veterans (Sulla, -ae, Sulla)

Some of these derived adjectives have furthermore been transformed to new nouns.

  • Silvānus, -ī, Silvanus, a woodlands deity (silva, -ae, the wood)
  • membrāna, -ae, the skin (membrum, -ī, limb)

The Essential AG: 249.1, 249.2, 249.2a

Greek and Latin Comparatives

There is a certain kinship between Greek and Latin (a) comparative and (b) superlative forms, as well as between (c) a particular branch of Latin positive adjectives and Greek comparatives.

To recall your knowledge of positives, comparatives, and superlatives in each language, let’s view  a few examples:

  • Dark, darker, darkest
  • niger, nigrior, nigerrimus
  • μέλας, μελάντερος, μελάντατος
  • Big, bigger, biggest
  • magnus, maior, maximus
  • μέγας, μείζων, μεγίστος
  • Dear, dearer, dearest
  • cārus, cārior, cārissimus
  • φίλος, φιλότερος, φιλότατος
  • Sweet, sweeter, sweetest
  • suavis, suavior, suavissimus
  • ἡδύς, ἥδιος, ἥδιστος

I struggle here to explain the precise interrelations between the various forms above, because A&G are quite tight-lipped about the matter (everything in this post is drawn from two far-disparate footnotes). However, we see a certain kinship between:

  • the Latin comparative (n.) -ius [e.g. nigrior (m/f), nigrius (n)] and the Greek -ίων [e.g. μείων (smaller, less)]
  • the Latin superlative –issimus [suavissimus] and the Greek -ιστος [ἥδιστος]

(these ^^ are also both relative to the English superlative [e.g. sweetest])

  • the Latin positive –ter (ater, atra, atrum) and the Greek -τερος (φιλότερος)

I think that last one is a bit of a stretch, so don’t shoot the messenger (of AG 214bn), but shoot me a comment if you disagree either with their claim or with my reading of their claim, and explain why.

The Essential AG: 124n1, 214bn