via, callis, ruta, ....

francisgranada

Senior Member
Hungarian
Helllo,

What was the Latin term for "street" in ancient Rome ?

(I mean the streets inside the city or town, not "roads" like Via Appia, etc. )

The reason of my question is the fact the in Italy we have typically via (<via), in Spain calle (<callis), in France rue (<ruta).

Thanks in advance
 
  • Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Callis was apparently a stony uneven footway, often in the wild (per calles silvestres) or the mountains. It probably developed in Latin itself to mean any kind of stoney rough passage or alley. It's the most certainly used term in Spanish and I think it is also used in Venetian. In Catalan we have the word call, used for a narrow passage between rocks and for the old Jewish neighbourhoods in medieval towns.

    Rue doesn't come from RUTA but from RUGA 'wrinkle, furrow', from which it would metaphorically be used in Low Latin to those paths surrounded by houses. It's mainly used in French and Portuguese now but it also existed in Old Catalan and Old Spanish and can still be sporadically seen.

    In Catalan, the common word for street is carrer. (In Occitan carrièra, in Aragonese carrera) These come from the adjective CARRARIU/CARRARIA, which applied to either CAMINUS or VIA meant 'path for the carts'.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    via in the widest sense is anything that leads somewhere. To specify a paved "highway"-type road you'd use via strāta > It. strada. vīcus is an agglomeration of houses, a neighborhood, and hence an alley flanked by such rows of houses, as opposed to an open platea.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Rue doesn't come from RUTA but from RUGA 'wrinkle, furrow', from which it would metaphorically be used in Low Latin to those paths surrounded by houses.
    Interesting, I didn't know it (I have supposed something like ruta>*ruda>*rua>rue).
    .... vīcus is an agglomeration of houses, a neighborhood, and hence an alley flanked by such rows of houses ....
    This is also interesting because in Italy we have also vicolo (< lat. viculus, diminutive of vicus) which is something like a "little/short street". Isn't there any etymological connection between via and vicus?
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Interesting, I didn't know it (I have supposed something like ruta>*ruda>*rua>rue).

    And you suppose well, because that was what actually happened with the other sense of the word RUTA, that is, the plant (which English also calls rue, as it took the word from French).

    The hint that lets you know it comes from RUGA and not RUTA is that, while in French both gave rue because of intensive dropping, in other Western Romance languages a -d- should appear instead of a -g- or a C-drop. That's what happens with the plant, called ruda in Iberia.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    This is also interesting because in Italy we have also vicolo (< lat. viculus, diminutive of vicus) which is something like a "little/short street". Isn't there any etymological connection between via and vicus?
    Not likely - via is probably connected to vīs "you want" and invītus "unwilling", from *weih1 "to strive after" (AGr. ῑ̔́εμαι, Lith. výti "to drive, pursue"); vīcus like vīlla derives from *weiḱ- "dwelling" (AGr. (ϝ)ὀῖκοσ "house", Ru. весь "village").
     
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    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Not likely - via is probably connected to vīs "you want" and invītus "unwilling", from *weih1 "to strive after" (AGr. ῑ̔́εμαι, Lith. výti "to drive, pursue"); vīcus like vīlla derives from *weiḱ- "dwelling" (AGr. (ϝ)ὀῖκοσ "house", Ru. весь "village").
    Thanks, it is very interesting. However this, thou indirectly, implies also the possible etymological connection of Lat. velle, Slavic voliti, English will, German will/wollen with via. On the other hand, Lat. victus, vixi (<vivere) could be - in theory - connexed with vicus and villa. Is all this possible or probable or we have to do with other IE roots or stems?
     
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    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings all

    ϝοἶκος = vicus, senza dubbio, and of course a further link (via the diminutive viculus) to vῑlla is plausible. But I have yet to be persuaded about links with Greek ἵεμαι, or with volo / velle, let alone vivo, vivere, which prima facie to me looks like being closer to Greek βί[ϝ]ομαι.

    Σ
     
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    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Thanks, it is very interesting. However this, thou indirectly, implies also the possible etymological connection of Lat. velle, Slavic voliti, English will, German will/wollen with via. On the other hand, Lat. victus, vixi (<vivere) could be - in theory - connexed with vicus and villa. Is all this possible or probable or we have to do with other IE roots or stems?
    The Latin vīs doesn't belong to the rest of the paradigm of velle - it can't be satisfactorily explained as a phonetic development, pointing towards suppletion. A suitable root happens to already exist in Latin as invītus, and it also finds cognates in other languages as mentioned. There's no -i- in the PIE root of vel-/вель- proper, *welh₁. There's no w- in the root for vīv-/жив- < *gʷeyh₃-. As such I don't believe that either can be connected to vīcus/весь.
     
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