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

Plūrālia Aliēna

The follow is a list of nouns whose standard semantic meaning is altered when the noun is made plural.

  • aedēs, is (f) temple —> aedēs house
  • aqua, ae (f) water —> aquae mineral springs, watering hole
  • auxilium, -ī (n) help —> auxilia auxiliary forces
  • bonum, ī (n) a good —> bona goods, property
  • carcer, -ēris (m) dungeon, prison —> carcerēs race course barriers
  • castrum, -ī (n) fort —> castra military camp
  • comitium, -ī (n) place of assembly —> comitia election
  • cōpia (f) plenty —> cōpiae stores, troops
  • fidēs, -is (f) harp-spring —> fidēs, um lyre
  • fīnis, -is (m) end —> fīnēs boundaries
  • fortūna, -ae (f) fortune —> fortūnae possessions
  • grātia, -ae (f) favor —> grātiae thanks, the Graces
  • hortus, -ī (m) garden —> hortī pleasure-grounds
  • impedīmentum, -ī (n) hindrance —> impedīmenta baggage
  • literra, -ae (f) letter —> litterae literature, epistle
  • locus, -ī (m) place —> locī topics (but loca (n) places)
  • mōs, mōris (m) habit, custom —> mōres character
  • nātālis, -is (m) birthday —> nātālēs descent, origin
  • opera (f) work —> operae day-hands
  • ops, -is (f) help —> opēs resources, wealth
  • pars, -tis (f) part —> partēs stage role, party
  • rōstrum, (n) beak of a ship —> rōstra speaker’s platform
  • sāl (m/n) salt —> salēs (m) witty jokes
  • tabella (f) tablet —> tabellae records

The Essential A & G: 107

Plūrālia Tantum

I’ve discussed this phenomenon in parts in places, but I have never full described the phenomenon of plūrālia tantum—Latin words that appear categorically as plural nouns.

The plūrālia include—

  • names of cities: Athēnae, Thūriī, Philippī, Veiī
  • names of festivals: Olympia, Bacchānālia, Quīnquārtrūs, lūdī Rōmānī
  • names of social classes: optimātēs, maiōres (ancestors), liberī, penātēs, Quirītēs (citizens)
  • words that are plural in nature, like the English ‘jeans, scissor, contents, etc.’: arma, artūs (joints)dīvitiae, scālae (stairs), valvae (folding doors), forēs, angustiae, moenia, dēliciae (beloved), faucēs (throat), īnsidiae (ambush), cervīcēs (neck), viscera (flesh).
  • words that are popular plural poetical tropes: sceptra (for sceptrum), ora (for ōs), silentia (for silentium).

Where these appear in the singular, they often have meanings slightly distinct from their plural forms:

  • Optimās, optimātis: aristocrat
  • Foris, foris: gate

The Essential A & G: 101-2

I-Stems with Ablative -i

Here’s the other half of that list that I started in (this post). These are the class of consonantal adjectives that tend not to operate as quasi-nouns, and therefore tend to take -i in the ablative, rather than -e.

  • āmēns, āmentis, frantic, crazed
  • anceps, ancipis, double, doubtful
  • concors, concordis, agreed, joint
  • dēgener, dēgeneris, low-born, weak
  • hebes, hebetis, dull, blunt
  • ingēns, ingentis, huge, vast
  • inops, inopis, needy, helpless
  • memor, memoris, mindful of
  • pār, paris, alike, equal to
  • perpes, perpetis, lasting
  • praeceps, praecipitis, headlong
  • praepes, praepitis, nimble, winged
  • teres, teretis, smooth

Sorry for the relative obscurity of these last two posts. The thing is, they cover a few footnotes in Allen and Greenough that I feel should be out there on the Internet, preferably with a basic entry format and definition.

The Essential AG: 121a3

I-Stems with Ablative -e

Consider section 121a4, which lists a variety of consonant stem adjectives that do not take -i in the ablative singular. They are completely regular, and the entry is really there only to keep you from having second guesses.

I’ll list them here so they get some web mileage, despite not being especially interesting, however rare:

  • caelescaelitis relating to the heavens or their Gods
  • compos, compotis possessing control of
  • dēses, dēsidis lazy
  • dīves, dīvitis wealthy
  • hospes, hospitis amicable, relating to guest-friendship
  • particeps, participis participating in
  • praepes, praepitis nimble, winged
  • pauper, pauperis poor, destitute
  • prīnceps, prīncipis princely, noble
  • sōspes, sospitis safe and sound
  • superstes, superstitis surviving

As someone pointed out in a comment, the general but non-binding idea is that those adjectives which most often operate as nouns (like these) take the ablative in -e, whereas those that are properly adjectival take the ablative in -i. You find hints of this throughout the consonantal and i-stem entries in Allen and Greenough (see 121a1-2), but they make no effort to propagate it as a formal rule.

The Essential AG: 121a1-2, a4

Genitive of Friendship

Yeah, I made that genitive up, but only to describe a real phenomenon in Latin! Some adjectives of likeness, nearness, and belonging that normally take the dative will occasionally take a possessive genitive. This transition is especially common where the adjective approaches the force of a noun.

  • Fuit hōc quondam proprium populī Rōmānī: this was once peculiar to the Roman people. (~a peculiar trait of)
  • Fuit semper amīcus Cicerōnis: he was always friendly with Cicero. (~a friend of)
  • Adeō patris similis es: you’re just like your master. (~a chip off the old block)

Here’s the full list of adjectives that perform this function—

  • aequālis,  aequāle: of the same age (~a contemporary of)
  • affīnis, affīne: related to by marriage (~kinsman of)
  • aliēnus, -a, -um: belonging to another (~a stranger to)
  • cōgnātus, -a, -um: fellow-born (~kinsman of)
  • commūnis, commūne: common to (~kinsman of)
  • cōnsanguineus, -a, -um: sharing a bloodline (~kinsman of)
  • contrārius, -a, -um: opposite (~the opposite of)
  • dispār: unlike (dispar suī, in philosophical diction)
  • familiāris, familiāre: of close relation (~intimate of)
  • fīnitimus, -a, -um: adjoining (~neighbor of)
  • inimīcus, -a, -um: hostile to (~enemy of)
  • necessārius, -a, -um: connected with (~component of)
  • pār: equal to (~a match)
  • pecūliāris, pecūliāre: personal (~peculiar trait of)
  • propinquus, -a, -um: neighboring (~neighbor of)
  • proprius, -a, -um: personal (~peculiar trait of)
  • sacer, sacra, sacrum: holy (~holy with respect to some deity)
  • similis, simile: alike to (~spitting image of)
  • superstes: surviving (~survivor of)
  • vīcīnus, -a, -um: neighboring (~neighbor of)

Note that this genitive construction is actually more common for proprius, -a, -um than the dative construction.

Similis with the genitive is especially common with personal pronouns (meī, tuī, suī) and within the fixed phrase vērī similis (probable).

I-Stems: Neuter Exceptions [4/8]

So, unfortunately, I stated earlier that the neuter i-stem class is entirely regular. In fact, a footnote in A&G reveals about ten exceptions.

These nouns are almost regular, except that with consonantal stems –al and –ar they also add the ending -e to the nominative and accusative singular. Note that because of this ending, the -ā- is long in all cases.

Where the singular is uncommon or does not exist, I have used the plural.

  • alveāre, alveāris, beehive
  • augurāle, augurālis, augur’s staff
  • capillāre, capillāris, pomade
  • cochlearē, cochleāris, spoon
  • collāre, collāris, collar
  • dentālia, dentālium, sharebeam of a plow (What?)
  • fōcāle, fōcālis, cravat (What?)
  • nāvāle, nāvālis, dock
  • penetrāle, penetrālis, inner shrine
  • rāmālia, rāmālium, twigs
  • scūtāle, scūtālis, thong of a sling
  • tibiālia, tibiālia, shin-length stockings

The Essential AG: 68n2

I-Stems: Neuter Exemplāria [3/8]

In this post, I want to expand on a footnote in A&G, which lists a whole herd of neuter i-stems, but then offers them no definitions.

Sample i-Stem neuters:

(if given in the plural, singular is rare or non-existent)

in -al

  • animal, animālis, animal
  • Bacchānal, Bacchānālis, Bacchanalian orgy
  • bidental, bidentālis, sacred space struck by lightening
  • capital, capitālis, capital punishment
  • cervīcal, cervīcālis, pillow, cushion
  • cubital, cubitālis, elbow cushion
  • frontālia, frontālium, frontlet of a horse (What the hell is that?)
  • genuālia, genuālium, leggings
  • Lupercal, Lupercālis, cave on the Palatine Hill
  • minūtal, minūtalis, stew
  • puteal, puteālis, structure surrounding the mouth of a well
  • spōnsālia, spōnsālium, wedding
  • quadrantal, quandrantālis, unit of liquid measure (a cubic (Roman) foot)
  • toral, torālis, valance of a couch (What the hell is that?)
  • vectīgal, vectīgālis, tax

in -ar

  • altāria, altārium, fittings for burnt offerings (also, apparently now a Pokemon… *nostalgia*)
  • cochlear, cochleāris, spoon
  • exemplar, exemplāris, example, standard
  • lacūnar, lacūnāris, paneled ceiling (example)
  • laquear, laqueāris, (also) paneled ceiling
  • lūcar, lūcāris, actor’s fee
  • lūminār, lūmināris, window shutter
  • lupānar, lupānāris, brothel
  • palear, paleāris, dewlap (What the hell is that?)
  • plantāria, plantārium, sandals
  • pulvīnar, pulvināris, couch for image of deity
  • Sāturnālia, Sāturnālium, optimo diērumCatullus 14.15
  • speculāria, speculārium, window panes
  • tālāria, tālārium, winged sandals of Hermes
  • torcular, torculāris, wine press

The Essential AG: 68n1

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.