Inflections (case endings) of cities

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Diadem, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. Diadem Senior Member

    USA (English)
    What is the rule for determining the case endings of cities? For example, in this work I'm reading, I'm seeing various case endings, such as Burdigalae, Burdigalensis, Lodovensis, Aquitaniae, etc. Also, what gender are most (or all) cities in Latin?
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    For the gender of city names, there is no strict rule. See A&G 32 and the following thread:
    Gender of place names

    As for the examples you listed, some are the actual names (Burdigala, Aquitania - not a city) and some are adjectives derived from the name (Burdigalensis, Lodovensis). This explains why they take different endings.
  3. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    Also read up on the Latin locative case, which had a sort of revival in medieval and renaissance Latin, especially on title pages to specify the city in which a work was published.
  4. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    Latin toponyms [place names] can be in any declension and follow the normal rules of
    declension for those declensions. However, most place names are first, second,
    or third declension. I cannot recall a fifth declension place name or a fourth
    declension one, though I think I have seen the latter.

    Some place names from other languages (Hebrew particularly) do not decline
    at all.

    Here is a handy reference for many Latin names:
    If you poke around on the web, you'll find other useful sites like it.

    There are several things about Latin place names that can puzzle English speakers.

    1) One is that many cities have names that are plural. "Athenae, Athenarum, f." or
    "Pompeii, Pompeiorum, m." They decline regularly, except they are plural.

    2) The toponyms of cities and towns and one-town islands do not use prepositions to indicate "to,"
    "from," or "in." For "to", they are just put in the accusative. For "from"
    they are put in the ablative. To express "in," they are put in what is called the
    locative case. For first and second declension singular nouns, the locative looks
    like the genitive. For third declension singular nouns, the locative usually looks like the
    dative (sometimes it looks like the ablative). For plural nouns, the locative looks
    like the ablative:
    Romam = to Rome
    Romā = from Rome
    Romae = in Rome

    Athenas = to Athens
    Athenis = from Athens
    Athenis = in Athens

    Carthaginem = to Carthage.
    Carthagine = from Carthage
    Carthagini = in Carthage

    3) For almost every geographical toponym, there is a corresponding
    ethnonym. The ethnonym is used to refer to the people of the place.
    Roma => romanus, -a, -um (a "romanus" is a Roman man; a "romana" is a Roman woman)
    California => Californiensis, -e
    (This "-ensis, -e" ending for ethnonyms is common and I see it in two of the words you
    cite above. It becomes the "-ese" in words like "Japanese" or "Chinese" in English)

    But ethnonyms are more common in Latin than in English because Latin tends NOT to use
    proper names of places in the genitive. It instead uses the ethnonym.
    The streets of Rome => viae romanae [roman streets]
    The writers of Athens => athenienses sciptores [Athenian writers]

    Latin generally avoids modifying nouns with prepositional phrases,
    so expressions like "the road to Spain" or "wine from Italy" or "the
    rivers in Greece" also use ethnonyms.
    hispana via = the road to Spain [the Spanish road]
    vinum italianum = wine from Italy [Italian wine]
    flumina graeca = the rivers in Greece [Greek rivers]

    4) Latin tends not to grant agency to geographical places. We in English
    say "Rome and Carthage" fought three wars. In Latin, you are more likely
    to read "romani et carthaginenses" fought three wars"--"The Romans
    and Carthaginians fought three wars." In Latin, generally, places don't
    wage war or do other such things; their inhabitants do.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013

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