The Latin superābilis, -e may be broadly defined as “possible to overcome,” and falls into two distinct uses within the extant literature:

Of military enemies encampments, regions and territories:

  • scīlicet ut nōn est per vim superābilis ūllī / clearly, he cannot be overcome by anyone through force (Ovid, Tristia 5.8.27)
  • murūs superābilies ad dextrā adoriēmur / we will attack the weakened wall at the right

Of diseases and calamities:

  • caecitās et calivitium opē hūmānā nōndum superābilēs sunt / blindness and baldness cannot yet be cured by human aid

The L&S entry—


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!)

Throwing a Fit

The impersonal phrase ‘fit ut‘ may be rendered in English as ‘it happens that…’ or ‘it comes about that…’ and takes a subjunctive clause in Latin. This ut-clause may be classed as one of result.

Recall that fit is the third person singular active indicative of fiō, which bears a complicated relationship to faciō, explained best by Mark Damen here. For more information on fiō, don’t bother with the Perseus edition of Lewis and Short. Even the advanced entry looks like this—

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 2.53.53 PMSo detailed! So precise!

Here are a few examples of fit ut in action—

Fit ut hominēs causā nullā multa timeant: It (often) happens that men fear many things with little (good) reason.

Fit ut imbri crebrō certāmen differat: It is the case that, with the heavy rain, the match shall be cancelled.

The Essential A&G: 568n2, 569.2

Scanning Aloud

Allen and Greenough offer this tip for learning the rhythm of Latin poetry:

“‘Scanning aloud’ is sometimes useful in the early stages of the study of Latin meter. Scanning aloud ignores the natural stress of the Latin words, instead treating all long syllables as stressed, all short syllables as unstressed. In effect, this technique replaces a quantitative pattern with a stress pattern.” -§607n1

  • If they mean what I believe they mean, I don’t see where this would be effective
  • Personally, I found that learning Latin verse based on the stress of its meter, not its syllables, works well
  • Would a spondee be read with double stress in this method? What would that accomplish?

Here’s an earlier post I did on a site with some sample readings aloud.

Does anyone else have experience with / thoughts on how to read Greek and Latin aloud, and how to use this as a teaching tool?

I had the fortune of reading about 50 lines of Greek and 40 lines of Latin in front of the kids at the Center for Talented Youth this summer. They were very taken with it. This was during a camp talent show with a Harry Potter theme, so, to preface, I told them that Greek was the language of Hufflepuff (with all its aspirates), and Latin the language of Slytherin (which was at least true of Aeneid 6.1-41, the highly sibilant passage I read them).

The Essential AG: 607 n1

Wiktionary > Whitaker’s

I’d like to offer the argument that Wiktionary is the top Latin dictionary available online. I’m sure I’ll meet with the same skeptics who consider Wikipedia an amalgam of amateurs. Let’s fight about it. Here’s my argument.

Wiktionary is superior to two specific alternatives: Whitaker’s Words and Lewis and Short (under Perseus).

Wiktionary is easier to navigate than Perseus or Whitaker. Perseus is notoriously slow, and its entries aren’t incredibly readable. Whitaker is more straightforward, yet demands that I open two windows, which seems unnecessary. There’s no reason a search bar can’t also appear on the results page for further searches.

Wiktionary beats these two because it’s fast and offers a friendly interface.

Like Lewis and Short, it’s pretty good about idiomatic meanings, and it’s OK (just OK) with specifying special case usage and constructions. It’s also often great on etymologies–even pre-Latin etymologies. Admittedly, Lewis and Short are better at both of these features, which is why–I imagine–the link to their entry (under Perseus) is often included at the bottom of each Wiktionary entry. There’s really no need to start with Perseus if you don’t have to.

Whitaker’s Words has a lot of mysterious notation explaining the way in which it parses words (none of which is explained on the site, so far as I can tell). As soon as the site completes its project on era/period frequency, it might be a much better site.

Wiktionary also bests both of them by offering you conjugations and declensions (we’re talking full parses) without asking. They’re just right there on the page. Even better, it’s minimized to begin with, so if you’re a purist and you want to guess the form without the parse, or your just want to scroll down the page a little faster, you won’t encounter opposition.

Wiktionary also shows derived compounds within Latin, and descendant words within other languages. It’s great!

Wiktionary is also the only option to make macrons available everywhere(If you haven’t noticed, I’m a fan of the macron.)

Of course, if I type ‘lego’ into the search bar, the page includes both legō (to read, etc.) and lēgō (to dispatch), with all the same perks.

Exceptions for using Lewis and Short: (a) where Wiktionary fails to find an idiom or rare usage and (b) where I need to know era/period frequency.

Exception for using Whitaker’s Words: where I have the English and I want the Latin. I haven’t found a better English-to-Latin Thesaurus just yet. Perseus performs this function (in a round about way, and at a snail’s pace). Any recommendations?

Maybe my argument didn’t convince you. Maybe you really like the ‘OLD’ way of doing things. I hate dragging myself to a bookshelf, and I can’t carry that thing to campus. Or, maybe you’re really excited about this:

I’ll stick with Wiktionary.