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!)
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Uses of Ambō

Ambō is sometimes decline to match its respective noun, like a fully-functional adjective, but otherwise remains fixed as ambō

  • Ambās mānūs lavit: he washed both hands.
  • Consulēs alter ambōve prōgredientur: either one or both of the consuls will march on
  • ūna salus ambobus erit: both were healthy (this is Virgil—a very Greek declension!)

Effectively, there is no rule. Both A&G and L&S present freeform variation between the two options.

Nomina Castrata

The following is a list of nouns that features both a masculine and neuter form, each with the same meaning. Allen and Greenough hint that there are “many others of rare occurrence” beyond this list, suggesting neuter-for-masculine is a comfortable poetic standard, but these are the most common instances, or the ones used most widely in classical literature.

  • balteus/um, -ī sword belt, girdle
  • cāseus/um, ī cheese (also, in comedy, term of endearment)
  • clipeus/um, ī round brazen shield
  • collum/us, ī neck
  • cingulum/us, ī waistband, waist strap
  • pīleus/um, ī liberty cap
  • tergum/us, ī back
  • vāllum/us, ī wall, rampart

By the way, the Allen and Greenough term for these guys is heterogeneous. This term also covers the plūria transexuālia and plūria aliēna that I discussed in earlier posts.

Plūralia Transexulālia

The following is a list of nouns that operates in a different grammatical gender where it appears in the plural, or features two possible genders in the plural that offer two distinct meanings.

  • balneum, -ī (n) bath —> balneae (f) baths
  • carbasus, -ūs (f) sail —> carbasa (n) sails
  • dēlicium, -ī (n) pleasure —> dēliciae (f) pet
  • epulum, -ī (n) feast —> epulae (f) feast
  • frēnum, -ī (n) bit —> frēnī (m) or frēna (n) bridle (the first the more common)
  • iocus, -ī (m) jest —> ioca (n) or iocī (m) jests (” “)
  • locus, -ī (m) place —> loca (n) places, but locī (m) topics
  • rāstrum, -ī (n) rake —> rāstrī (m) or rāstra (n) rakes (” “)

Allen and Greenough also have this entry—

  • caelum, -ī (n) heaven —> caelōs (m acc.) appears in Lucretius

This is an interesting case. According to Lewis and Short, it looks like the plural of caelum is actually lacking in Classical Latin except for a passage from Lucretius. However, caelī (m) meaning ‘heavings’ is frequent in Ecclesiastical Latin. Therefore, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether the noun is truly transgender.

The Essential A & G: 106b

Third Declension Twin-Termination Adjectives

Adjectives of the third declension have either one, two or three gendered endings.

  • Triple-termination: ācer, ācris, ācre (sharp) [see here]
  • Twin-termination: levis (m/f), leve (light)
  • Single-termination: …these are complicated. I’ll address them in a coming post

Twin-Termination Formation

Adjectives of the third declension with two terminations are declined as follows:

Here are some additional twin-termination thirds to practice declining:

  • faenebris, faenebre: lent at interest
  • fūnebris, fūnebre: funereal
  • illūstris, illūstre: shining, famous
  • lūgubris, lūgubre: mournful
  • mediocris, mediocre: (usually) moderate; (rarely) ordinary
  • muliebris, muliebre: effeminate

The Essential AG: 116