Latin/Locative and Geography

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Salvēte omnēs! Welcome back to Latin for Wikiversity. Here you can peruse a new lesson in Latin, in a simple format. If you would like to catch up, you can find a directory of lessons, a classified vocabulary list, and Memrise courses at the links on the right.

We will have a break from verbs this lesson as we play with geography and place names. We have learned 5 cases for Latin nouns, plus the vocative case for 2nd declension. Classical Latin also uses the remains of a locative case, an adverbial form that describes the “place where”, but only for names of cities, towns, and islands small enough for only one city/town. There is a very good video tutorial on the locative case here but I will also explain as well as I can below.

1st and 2nd declension nouns, if singular, use the same ending as the genitive case (-ae for 1st, -i for 2nd): Roma becomes Romae = at Rome; Corinthus becomes Corinthi = at Corinth. Eboracum (York) becomes Eboraci. “Large islands” for the Romans were Sicilia, Sardinia, Corsica, Cyprus, Crete, and Britannia. Certainly Hibernia (Ireland) today has many towns, but in ancient times there were some uses of Hiberniae for the locative.

1st / 2nd declension plural nouns take the same ending as the ablative (-is). Athenae = Athens becomes Athenis = in/at Athens and Cumae becomes Cumis. Pompeii becomes Pompeiis.

Nouns of declensions 3-5 also use the same ending as the ablative (or sometimes the dative). Carthago becomes Carthagine (or Carthagini) = at Carthage.

Besides the cities, towns and small islands, there are a handful of other very common words that use a special locative. Domi = at home; ruri (rure) = in the country; humi = on the ground.

Words that use a locative to express “place where” use the ablative alone, with no preposition, to express “place from which”, and they use the accusative alone to express “place to which”. But for other words (names of countries or large islands, for example) you must still use a preposition: ad Italiam = to Italy; ab Americā = from America. We’ll learn some city names today that have been around since Roman times, and are generally recognized as the official Latin names of those cities.

New Vocabulary[edit]

Latin English Audio (Classical) Notes
humus, i (f.) ground, earth, soil
rūs, rūris (n.) the country, countryside, farm loc. ruri or rure
domus, us (f.) (4th declension but with some 2nd decl. elements) house, home abl. domō; loc. domī
jaceō (iaceo), jacēre, jacuī, jacitum, intr. 2 lie, lie down, lie sick, lie dead
condō, condere, condidī, conditus, 3 build, found, establish
Latin English Audio (Classical) Notes
City Names
Athēnae Athens
Barcinō, Barcinōnis (f.) Barcelona Named after Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal’s father
Berolinum Berlin
Carthāgō, Carthāginis (f.) Carthage
Eborācum York   Novum Eborācum = New York
Londīnium London
Lugdūnum Lyon
Lutetia Paris
Mediolānum Milan
Syrācūsae (pl.) Syracuse
Trōia (Ilium) Troy

New Sentences[edit]

Latin English Notes
Hoc Rōmae in Italiā factum est. This happened at Rome in Italy. Note that locative is used for cities, not countries.
Mārcus Rōmae habitat. Marcus lives in Rome.
Paula domī est. Paula is at home.  
Domum redīvī. I returned home.
Domō Rōmam ibō. I will go from home to Rome.
Lūcia Lutetiae habitat. Lucia lives in Paris.
Rōmulus et Remus Rōmam condidērunt. Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Rūrī habitāre volō. I want to live in the country.
Alexandria est urbs in Aegyptō. Alexandria is a city in Egypt.
Barcinō in Hispaniā est. Barcelona is in Spain.
Gāius Syrācūsīs in Siciliā habitat. Gaius lives in Syracuse on Sicily.
Athēnīs nātus est. He was born in Athens.
Athēnās īre semper voluī. I have always wanted to go to Athens.
Londīniō Novum Eborācum crās ībit. He will go from London to New York tomorrow.
Quid vīdistī Novī Eborācī? What did you see in New York?
Magnum bellum Trōiae erat. There was a great war at Troy.
Graecī Trōiam nāvigāvērunt. The Greeks sailed to Troy.
Humī sedent. They are sitting on the ground.
Multa corpora humī jacēbant. Many bodies were lying on the ground.  
Rōmānī, īte domum! Romans, go home!
The following sentences and quotes are commonly found in Latin
Hīc jacet/iacet _ Here lies _   beginning of an epitaph
Lānam fēcit, domī mānsit. She did her wool, she stayed at home. Epitaph of a good wife.
Carthāgō dēlenda est. Carthage must be destroyed. Cato’s famous slogan. Eventually he got his way. “Delenda” is a future passive participle, or gerundive, which we will study later.
ab urbe condīta (A.U.C.) from the foundation of the city Romans dated their time from this point, traditionally 753 B.C.
Gaudeāmus igitur, juvenēs dum sumus!
Post jūcundam juventūtem, post molestam senectūtem, nōs habēbit humus.
Let us rejoice therefore, while we are young!
After pleasant youth, after troublesome old age, the ground will have us.
From the medieval student song. The phrase nōs habēbit humus is a good one for beginners to parse to appreciate the importance of subject-verb agreement. Because nōs can be nominative or accusative, students will often want to say “we will have the earth.” Nope, other way around!

Practice[edit]

Practice and learn the words and phrases in this lesson
Step one First learn the words using this lesson:
Step two Next try learning and writing the sentencing using this:
Note that the Memrise stage covers the content for all lessons in each stage.
If you are skipping previous stages you may need to manually "ignore" the words in previous levels (use the 'select all' function)

If you have followed all these lessons to this point, you know enough Latin to have some fun with reading some basic Latin texts. Here is the Vicipaedia entry for nationes mundi. The first sentence, “Nationes mundi, hac in commentatione descriptae, sunt liberae mundi civitates, quae suo iure imperioque reguntur,” can be translated, “The nations of the world, described in this study, are free states of the world, which are ruled by their own law and government.”

The following sentences contain vocabulary and constructions we have not learned, but we hope you enjoy puzzling out what you can. And of course, there are many links to follow to many more articles. The Latin version of Wikipedia contains a treasure trove of articles to read, and many of them are very approachable for students at this intermediate level.

Here is a fun Youtube series. It is called Nemausus which is the ancient Roman name for the French city of Nimes. It’s in French with English subtitles, but it does feature a time-traveling gladiator and some Latin. We hope you enjoy it! We will have another geography and places lesson next. As always, if you have questions or comments, please leave them on the discuss page and we will do our best to answer them.

Valēte!