How I developed the Roma Nova titles...

Minerva:Athene, goddess of wisdom

Minerva/Athene, goddess of wisdom (Capitoline Museum, Rome)

A poster “in another place” commented about the Roma Nova books:  “They sound great, but I can’t help but cringe at the titles. Not quite Latin. I suppose that’s probably the point, but ouch. Intriguing, though.

I admit, I thought ‘ouch’ back, but also smiled to myself. Perhaps she hadn’t looked them up on one of the excellent online dictionaries such as
Perseus (Tufts University)LatDictNotre Dame University or a good paper Latin dictionary (OLD or Collins).

So what’s the Latin behind the Roma Nova titles?

INCEPTIO
inceptio, inceptionis
noun, 3rd declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: start, beginning, an undertaking, enterprise
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Frequency: For Dictionary, in top 20,000 words
Source: Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1982 (OLD)

PERFIDITAS
I’ll admit PERFIDITAS is partly made up! It’s based on
perfidia, perfidiae
noun, 1st declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: faithlessness, treachery, perfidy
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Frequency: For Dictionary, in top 20,000 words
Source: General, unknown or too common to say

The trouble was there was a very popular song called ‘Perfidia‘ written by Mexican Alberto Dominguez and which has been recorded by countless artists. I didn’t want the book to look as if it was about a girl called Perfidia, so I piggy-backed perfidia onto the form used in romanitas (‘Roman-ness’) to change the word but retain the meaning.

SUCCESSIO
successio, successionis
noun, 3rd declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: succession (to position/ownership w/GEN), successors collectively
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: Legal, Government, Tax, Financial, Political, Titles
Geography: All or none
Frequency: For Dictionary, in top 10,000 words
Source: Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1982 (OLD)

December 2016 update

AURELIA
Plain and simple – a Latin woman’s name. The most famous Aurelia in Roman history was the well connected Aurelia Cotta, the mother of G Julius Caesar.
The gens Aurelia was a plebeian family of Rome. They served the Republic with distinction and flourished under the Empire. Many later families of citizens enrolled under the authority of emperors or magistrates bearing this nomen took  Aurelius as their new citizen name. It became so common that by the latter centuries of the Empire it became difficult to distinguish members of the gens from other people bearing the name.

INSURRECTIO
insurrectio, ōnis
noun, 3rd declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: a rising up, insurrection
Age:In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area:All or none
Geography:All or none
Frequency:For Dictionary, in top 20,000 words
Source: A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.

RETALIO
rĕ-tālĭo , āre,  verb
Definition: .to retaliate
A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.

RETALIO is a slight cheat as the usual word for retaliation in Latin, talio,  doesn’t have the ‘re’ in front of it, but I thought it would make more sense to 21st century readers with the prefix.

talio, onis
Definition: retaliation
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Frequency: 2 or 3 citations
Source: Charles Beard, “Cassell’s Latin Dictionary”, 1892 (CAS)

Four and two halves out of six ain’t too bad, I think.

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, will be published in Spring 2017.

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