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

Comparison of Adjectives

There are a variety of ways to hide the stem of a adjective in its nominative form.

  • baburrus, -a, -um (stem barburo-) silly
  • levis, -e (stem levi-) fickle
  • fēlīx (stem fēlīc-) blessed
  • hebes (stem hebet-) dull

However, the majority of adjectives of all stem formations become comparatives and superlatives in the same way: with the addition of -ior (m/f) / ius (n) for comparatives, and the addition of -issimus, -a, -um for superlatives.

  • baburrus, -a, -um / baburrior, -ius / barburrissimus, -a, -um
  • levis, -e / levior, -ius / levissimus, -a, -um
  • fēlīx / fēlīcior, -ius / fēlīcissimus, -a, -um
  • hebes / hebetior, -ius / hebetissimus, -a, -um

There are a few things to note here. If an adjective is compared regularly,

  • It’s case ending will always have two options (m/f or n) for the comparative and three options (m or f or n) for the superlative, regardless of how many it had for the positive.
  • Stress accents will always appear on the penultimate vowel (for comparatives) or the ultimate vowel (for superlatives) of the stem.

babúrrior, baburríssimus / lévior, levísssimus / fēlícior, fēlīcíssimus / hebétior, hebetíssimus

Of course, it can always shift further forward, but never further back. The comparatives declines like so:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 7.42.56 AM(photo credit, Wiktionary)

The superlatives decline like a regular first/second declension adjectives, regardless of how their positives decline:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 7.49.18 AM(photo credit, Wiktionary)

The Essential AG: 120, 123-4


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.


I-Stems: Masculine and Feminine Declension(s) [1/8]

As A&G note, “The i-stem was confused by even the Romans themselves.” There are a variety of variations with this stem present in all three grammatical genders, making it incredibly difficult to organize the data except in broad patterns and rote memorization. To that effective, I’m going to design a series of posts on the i-stem declension.

In this section, we’ll introduce the i-stem as a morphological class, and discuss the declension of ‘regular’ masculine and feminine i-stem nouns.

First off, all i-stems are either pure or mixed.

Most pure i-stems are immediately identifiable by their lexical entry, because they feature parisyllabic  (having the same number of syllables) nominative and genitive forms. This is true of masculine, feminine and neuter i-stem nouns. However, most masculine and feminine nouns also have nominative and genitive forms that are completely identical. Let’s take a look:

sitis, sitis (f.) thirst (declined only in the singular, for sensible reasons)

Picture 1

ignis, ignis (m.) fire

Picture 2

A few unique features to note:

  • nominative singular -is (except in four cases, see below)
  • accusative singular –im (though not always)
  • ablative singular (though not always)
  • genitive plural -ium (strictly)

As you can see, there aren’t many markers (just one) that guarantee any given noun is an i-stem noun. In fact, it would be possible to decline ignis in a way such that only it’s nominative singular and genitive plural gave any hint of the i-stem status.

With four nouns in particular (imber, rain; linter, skiff; ūter, wineskin; venter, belly) this problem is even more evidence because here even the nominative is lost as a distinctive feature. The only morphological form that demonstrates imber‘s i-stem status is its genitive plural imbrium.

So to review masculine and feminine i-stem declension: difficult, difficult, difficult. As we’ll see, the neuter declension isn’t much easier…

The essential AG: 66-7.


The Vocative Case: Declension

A&G define the vocative as “the case of Direct Address.” (35f)

Generally speaking, the vocative and the nominative are the same.

However, in certain nouns of the second declension (those with nominative -us or -ius) have two exceptional variations. All nouns in -us feature an -e in the vocative (mūrus…mūre). Those ending in -ius (Vergilius, fīlius, genius, etc.) take a vocative  (Vergilī, filī, genī).

  • [Highly attentive readers should note that this vocative does not shift its accent, rendering Vergílī, and not *Vérgilī, as one might expect.]

That’s how it stands for nouns. There’s a slight variation in policy for adjectives, though luckily the same general rule (same as the nominative) holds true for all but the second declension (bonus…bone). However, the one catch is that adjectives ending in -ius change to -ie and not . Therefore, when calling to a Spartan son, we might say O fīlī Lacedaemonie! (not *Lacedaemonī).

If anyone has a better understanding of vocative plurals, which I assume are all identical to their nominative forms, feel free to say more in the comments below. A&G are totally silent on this issue, which I assume signals that listing the vocatives would be redundant (with respect to the nominatives).

The Essential AG: 38a


Greek Nouns (in Latin) of the Second Declension

Consider this a sequel to my earlier post on Greek Nouns (in Latin) of the First Declension:

  • As with “Greek” first-declension nouns, these second-declension nouns decline like their regular Latin counterparts in the plural
  • Like the Greek second declension, nouns are by-and-large masculine or feminine
  • For the singular, they decline more regularly than the first-declension nouns. Have a look:

So, a few things:

  • These correspond more or less identically corresponding second-declension Greek nouns, with the genitive -ου rendered as the regular Latin -ī and dative -ῳ rendered as -ō
  • The exception here is Athōs, which declines more like an Attic-declension noun (see below)
  • Occasionally, the plural nominative -οι appears as -oe, rather than the typical Latin -ī
  • Nota bene that certain Greek names, like Odysseus, are actually third-declension nouns, which we’ll get to shortly.

For more on second-declension Greek nouns and the Attic declension:

The Essential AG: 52