Pronunciation questions

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Pronunciation questions

Postby Victoria Aurelia Ovensa on Fri Sep 01, 2006 5:34 pm

Salwete omnes,

I am very new at all this, so I hope you'll bear with me and my silly questions.
First off, how does one pronounce "Janus"?
Is it JAY-NOOS,
or JAH-NOOS (as in "ha, ha") ?
or JAN-OOS (as in "can") ?

And how are you supposed to know the vowel pronunciations from written text? Is it just something you have to memorize from a dictionary? I read something a few days ago about certain kinds of notations over vowels to indicate length etc., but I've never seen these in a printed text, either online or in a book. How come they're not used in printed texts now, if they used to be?
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Postby Q Valerius on Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:26 pm

Ianus - Yah-nuhs


You're thinking of macrons: āēīōū - they were not used often ever, but are now an increasing trend for books marketed towards students/schools. You won't find them on Roman inscriptions.
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Postby Quintus Marius Primus on Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:51 pm

My understanding was that the macron is a modern invention and was never used by the Romans - it was adopted in textbooks for students of the language, especially with regard to poetry.
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Postby M.Apollonius Silvanus on Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:52 pm

Salvete Omnes!

Old post but thought it was a good place to ask.

On the HBO series Rome people used names like Octavian,Octavia,Vorenus,Marc Antony,Julius etc...were these historically correct name forms?
I see names on here and NR but havent seen names like Octavian,Octavia,Vorenus(gens Vorenii), Julius(gens Julii) or Antony(gens Antonii). I see similar names on other Roman movies etc. aswell.. Were people actually referred to by their gens/nomen and cognomen like Julius Caesar,,Apollonius Silvanus, etc? Or using their praenomina + their nomen like Marc(not Marcus) Antoni (not Antonius) and Lucius Vorenus?

Maybe thats understandable, lol.

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Names again!

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:10 pm

*chuckles*

...Amice, that's two separate questions!

Some very famous Romans have had their names "Anglicised" for ease of (frequent) use by lazy moderns: Julius Caesar (Gaius Iulius Caesar) a little bit; Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) and Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) rathermuch; Marc Antony and Pompey (Marcus Antonius et Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) almost past the point of recognition. Nova Roma has its share of Iulii, but none of them has had the temerity to take the Dictator's entire tria nomina to himself. (There are Gaius Iuliuses, and Iulius Caesars, but no Gaius Iulius Caesars.)

"Octavian" is Gaius Octavius, who became Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus when the famous Caesar adopted him. Bene, that's a mouthful, innit? --So he got shortened to Octavian. You will find "Octavius" and "Octavianus" in the historical record, but "Octavian" without a proper, declinable Latin ending is a modern convention. Anything *with* a proper, declinable Latin ending is probably historical.

Nova Roma has a horrible habit of recursively Latinising already-Latin names: they'd turn Octavianus into Octavianius if they got the chance. Coming to Americia, Eddie? Certe, Toto, sentio nos in Kansate non iam adesse.

As for which ones to use, it depends on the formality of your relationship to that individual. I'll quote our own usage from "Your Roman Name: The User's Manual!" on the SVR site:


[Pars II: Operation and Maintenance]

You will, of course, be using your Roman name, and addressing other Sodales by theirs, in the Forum and other places where we gather. Which handle should you use, if you're not going to roll out the whole thing every time? As a guideline, if you wanted to address Aldus Marius Peregrinus per an historically-accurate degree of formality, he would be:

-- Aldus Marius to his family and acquaintances (including business or political);
-- Marius Peregrinus to most of his friends;
-- just plain Peregrinus to people who either like him very much (close friends/intimates) or thoroughly despise him (it's considered very casual/familiar);
-- and Aldus Marius Peregrinus only to his Paterfamilias and the law courts--and then only if he's in big trouble!! <g>

Of course, the Societas is growing its own habits of name use, and we call each other by praenomen+nomen, or by nomen+cognomen, most of the time. When in doubt, ask your fellow Roman what s/he prefers.

When greeting someone directly, the endings change a little bit:
-- an -us name becomes -e (Aldus --> Alde)
-- an -ius name becomes -i (Marius --> Mari)
-- an -a name, and most others, stay the same (Kaeso --> Kaeso, Aelia --> Aelia).


Clear as mud? >({|:-)
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