Uses of Diēs

Lewis and Short have a different take on the masculine/feminine division of diēs. They claim that diēs is properly masculine, but appears in poetry (metrī gratiā) as a feminine noun to mean ‘day’ in prose to mean ‘time’ or ‘date.’

They pull a number of examples from Ennius, Ovid, Horace and Vergil to support this, but then also lay bare that Julius Caesar (feminine) and Sallust (masculine) use the two genders of diēs for the same phrases. What are your thoughts on this?

Caesar actually uses a variety of diēs phrases:

postridiē eius diē : after that day

diem ex diē dūcere : to lead (troops) day by day

The phrase in diēs is generally translated ‘every day.’ Cf. cotidiē and in diem, which mean roughly the same.

The feminine uses of diēs in prose are generally of a piece: dictā, edictā, cōnstitūtā, praestitūtā, pacta, statā, annuā… you get the idea.

A few more phrases:

  • dicere diem alicuī : to bring a charge against someone (by specifying a court day)
  • diēs natālis : birthday
  • in diem vīvere : to live day-to-day (paycheck-to-paycheck, so to speak—hopefully few of my readers!)

A Reader’s Diēgest

Here are a few notes on the Latin for day—diēs.

1. Diēs is a fifth-declension noun.

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 4.34.41 PM(photo credit: Wiktionary)

2. Diēs is typically masculine (like most fifth declension nouns), but is occasionally feminine, especially in fixed phrases and general reference to time or dates.

  • cōnstitūtā diē : on a fixed day
  • longa diēs intervēnit : a long time had passed

3. Diēs is one of only two nouns in the fifth declension that is entirely declined. Rēs is  the other such noun—all other fifth declension nouns are wanting in the plural (or at least the plural genitive, dative and ablative) in extant Latin literature.

The Essential AG: 96, 97, 98a

The Locative Case (p1)

My last post left me curious about the precise use and character of the Locative case, so I took to milling around A&G for just about every line I could find on the matter. There’s more than the might imagine for a case so rare–

Let’s start with the formation of the locative case (post 1) and then I’ll search out all the things we can do with it (post 2).


Formation for First Declension

singular genitive; plural dative

(Rōmae; Athēnīs)

[remember that only place names which are already plural, like Athēnae, will appear with a plural locative]


Formation for Second Declension

singular genitive; plural dative

[Corinthī; Philippīs]


Formation for Third Declension

singular dative or ablative (-ī or -e); plural dative

[Carthāginī or Carthāgine; Trallibus]


Formation for Fourth Declension

The only locative offered by A&G is that for domus, house: it’s either domī or domuī


Formation of the Fifth Declension

Here, the locative only appears in a few fixed expressions of time, where it always ends in the singular ablative:

hodiē, today; diē quārtō (etc.), on the fourth day; postrīdiē, tomorrow; perendiē, the day after tomorrow; prīdiē, yesterday


1 —> gen/dat; 2 —> gen/dat; 3 —> dat or abl/dat; 4&5 —> just a few words!


The Essential AG: (scattered, I know) 43c; 49a; 80; 93 n1; 98b

Famous Phrase: in locō parentis [in place the parent]

This is a legal term describing a state of non-parent custody of children; a teacher or your aunt (while you’re staying at her cottage) are in locō parentis figures


Cases and Relations of Place: Homes and Hometowns

Summary of Forms

There are particular rules for relations of place associated with the proper names of (i) cities and (ii) islands, as well as the words (iii) domus and (iv) rūs [the countryside]

  • The place from which uses the ablative 
  • The place to which uses the accusative
  • The place at which uses the locative
  • no prepositions!

Again, this system of relations of place and case forms is distinct from the archetypes discussed in this earlier post.


Review of the Locative

In the first and second declensions (think Eurōpa and Ephesus), the locative is:

  • identical to the genitive in the singular (Eurōpae, Ephesī)
  • identical to the dative in the plural (Eurōpīs, Ephesīs)

In the third (and I assume fourth and fifth?) declension (think Carthāgō), the locative is:

  • identical to the dative in singular and plural (Carthāginī or Carthāgine, Carthāginibus)

[note the the plural of all these examples are superfluous–plural datives only apply to place names that are already plural, such as Philippī –> Philippīs]


Place to Which (abl.)

He was absent from Rome: Rōmā abfuit.

He left home yesterday: prīdiē domō abiit.

Place from Which (acc.)

She arrived in Rome on the sixth day: Rōmam sextō diē vēnit.

I will go into the country: rūs ībō.

They will sail from Delos (abl.) to Rhodes (acc.): Dēlō Rhodum nāvigābunt.

Place at Which (loc.)

There are three hundred statues at Samos: Samī trecenta signa sunt.

The temple had been at Athens: Athēnīs aedem erat.


The Essential AG: 427

Famous Phrase : ūnus papa Rōmae, ūnus portus Ancōnae, ūna turris Crēmōnae, una ceres Rācōnae

(one pope in Rome, one port in Ancona, one tower in Cremona, one beer in Rakovnik)

[motto of the Rakovnik Brewery]

Ok, not so famous, and dripping with neo-Latinisms, but it’s got a lot of locatives!