Tag Archives: Latin grammar

Ancient Roman Recipes

Posted on 10. Sep, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Salvete Omnes,

I hope everyone is doing great today! I will be honest and admit that this post is coming to fruition a bit later than I have liked. Yesterday was my birthday and I came home to a surprise party! It was very surprising to the say the least and a wonderful gesture. But as I sat there eating my surprise dinner, I wondered about the article that I would be writing for this week’s theme: Recipes.

Food of various forms and categories. Courtesy of WikiCommon and Lobo.

Food of various forms and categories. Courtesy of WikiCommon and Lobo.

I further wondered what use would a Latin or Ancient Roman Recipe be to my readers. So I have come up with two ideas. The first, I don’t know how many of you who read this throw your friends or family dinner parties, but instead of the same old boring food-why not theme it? Roman Dinner Party? Ask people to dress up toga (accurate or inaccurate) and serve only the most authentic food that will give your family and friends a taste of a different world and time! The second idea piggybacks off the first with a Roman Halloween Party! We also have a lovely post on Roman Halloween Costume Ideas here.


For this theme, I was asked to provide one recipe with the Latin and then the English, which is what you will see below. Although the recipe I have chosen is one of rarity is probably never cooked anymore; I hope it will lend some insight into the Roman and their food choices. Lastly, I have provided at the end of this article more options for recipes (that are not odd, rare, or obscure) for your trying.

A boy holding a platter of fruits and what may be a bucket of crabs, in a kitchen with fish and squid, on the June panel from a mosaic depicting the months (3rd century. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Sailko.

A boy holding a platter of fruits and what may be a bucket of crabs, in a kitchen with fish and squid, on the June panel from a mosaic depicting the months (3rd century. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Sailko.

The Recipe that I would love to translate and discuss today is the most intriguing in my mind: the dormouse. Most commonly known from its appearance in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland’ s Tea Party.

The March Hare and the Hatter put the Dormouse's head in a teapot. Illustration by John Tenniel.. Courtesy of WikiCommons and JasonAQuest.

The March Hare and the Hatter put the Dormouse’s head in a teapot. Illustration by John Tenniel.. Courtesy of WikiCommons and JasonAQuest.

It is often referred to as the edible dormouse, which was farmed by the Romans (which is discussed and explained here). It was mainly eaten as part of a snack,part of a main course, or even as a dessert. The text for this recipe (stuffed dormouse) is found in Apicius’ De Re Coquinaria Book 8 Chapater 9 (here):

Glires: “isicio porcino, item pulpis ex omni membro glirium trito, cum pipere, nucleis, lasere, liquamine farcies glires, et sutos in tegula positos mittes in furnum aut farsos in clibano coques.”

Dormice: “Stuff the mice with minced pork, likewise with mouse meat from all (fleshy) parts of the  mouse ground with pepper, pine kernels, laser, and garum (or broth). Sew the mouse up and put on a tile on the stove. Or roast in a portable oven.”

It should be noted that Roman recipes by Apicius ( the only “complete” recipe book that has survived) does not include measurements, ingredients, or even a cook time.

For a Modern interpretation of the dormouse recipe (a.k.a the substitution of dormouse with chicken) , please check out this wonderful recipe: here.

Seafood was very popular in the Roman cuisine as well. An array of creatures that may have been found in a "piscine." Sea creatures mosaic ( Attention to the Eel near the right bottom corner) from Pompeii; National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Massimo Finizio.

Seafood was very popular in the Roman cuisine as well. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Massimo Finizio.

The topic of food and recipes have been discussed in this blog before, please take a look at some of our previous post that discuss terminology, popular food, (here) and even have some helpful videos(here)!

For more of  a collection of recipes in Latin and English, please see this wonderful website: Eight Recipes from Around the Roman Table-Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome (here). More Roman Recipes can also be found here.

Frozen “Let it go” in Latin

Posted on 27. Aug, 2014 by in Latin Language

One of the most popular songs of 2014 and winner of an Academy Award: “Let it Go” from the Disney film Frozen.  While Latin is a “dead language” (please see my humorous post on this subject: here), it continues to thrive and flourish through its reuse in popular culture. Here is a trailer of the feature film: Frozen.

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I am an avid fan of the following Youtube users who have taken the time to put “Let it Go” in Latin.  As you will notice that most of the translations are already provided for you in Latin and English. However, you will also notice that all the translation have different words, word choices, and word orders.

Some choices have been made to honor the English more so than the Latin. One video for example has a literal title “id agat” or “Let it go,” another is “libera” which is the Jussive of libero meaning “let it go,” and the last one is libero which means “I break free.” So, all of these videos are quite different and I hope you enjoy them!

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YouTube Preview Image


YouTube Preview Image


It is important to remember when studying Latin that the same translation  may be done in many different ways with various vocabulary words. So when you are doing your own translations or trying to have a phase translated, please don’t be concerned that yours may be a bit different or uses different words- this is the great advantage to Latin. There are so many styles!



Unraveling the Dark Side of Latin’s Subjunctive

Posted on 16. Jul, 2014 by in Latin Language

Subjunctive. SUBJUNCTIVE.S-U-B-J-U-N-C-T-I-V-E……

Courtesy of Latin Memes & Quick Meme Builder.

Courtesy of Latin Memes & Quick Meme Builder.

Subjunctive usually scares and intimidates many students when learning Latin. This is usually due to the fact that students are unfamiliar with the term subjunctive or grammar within their own language. FEAR NOT! I am hoping that this guide will help and aid all of you who are worried about learning and memorizing the uses of the subjunctive.

While researching for this article, I realized that some people may learn better from a video and others from reading the material. Thus, I have provided both. These are a series of videos that explain the forms, uses, and grammar:

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-Commands & Jussives

The subjunctive is often used to express commands, an order, or prohibition.  This is seen at ne + subjunctive; while the jussive is the unique 3rd person form of the subjunctive.

EX: ne transferis= Do Not Cross!

EX: eamus =let us go OR amemus= let us make love


-Deliberative Subjunctive ” What am I to…”

The deliberative subjunctive is a question as shown above.

EX: quid faciam = What am I to do



When you want to wish someone good luck or wish something on someone (even).

EX: Sit Vis Vobiscum= May the Force be with you


Indirect Commands or Questions

What is meant by Indirect is simply the idea that someone is relaying what they have already been told. This is usually introduced by a asking or saying verb along with ut or ne followed by the subjunctive.

EX: mihi imperauit ut abirem= She ordered me that I should go away or to go away.

EX: petebam quid dicturus esset= I was asking what he was about to say or would say.


-Result Clauses “so…..that”, “So….as to”

The “that” clause is expressed by “ut + subjunctive.” The subjunctive is normally present, imperfect, or perfect. The “so” portion could be accomplished with adeo, ita, tam, sic, eo, tantus, tot, talis (which all mean differing amounts of ‘so, so great, so much, thus, or of the such of sort’.)

EX: Tam fortis erat ut uini non posset  = He was so brave that he could not be defeated


-Causal Clauses “because, since”

The subjunctive with conjunctions such as quod, quia, quoniam, quando, cum ( which all mean since or because) are providing a clause that explains the reason or cause for an action.

EX: adsunt cum me amarent = They are present since they used to love me.


- Purpose Clauses “in order to/that, to”

Purpose clauses are generally conveyed with ut + subjunctive or ne+ subjunctive. The subjunctive is present in primary sequence and imperfect in secondary. (Here is a brief page on sequence and sentences).

EX: uenio ut uiderem= I come in order/so that I may see


-Temporal Clauses “When….” “Until…”

The subjunctive is used in temporal (time) clauses for two reasons.

1) With dum, donec (both meaning until) and antequam, pruisquam (both meaning before)- the subjunctive is used when the intending action of the clause is being expected or waited for.

EX: manebat dum Caesar ueniret= he waited until Caesar should come

2) Cum with the subjunctive (imperfect or pluperfect) when you are referring to the past.

EX: cum haec dixisset, exiit= When he had said these things, he departed.


– Fear Clauses I fear that/lest”

Usually fearing verbs take the infinitive ( I am afraid to jump), but with a subjunctive they are translated like ( I am afraid that she will jump  on me). This is done with ut+ subjunctive or ne + subjunctive.


-Relative Clauses

First I should explain that a relative clause is usually introduced by pronouns like qui, quae, quod, (who, what, which, that), and is “relative” or “relates” to something/someone expressed in the previous part of the sentence.

EX: “The girls WHO like flowers.” “The cat WHICH are sleeping

However, the use of a the subjunctive in a relative clause is a bit different. When the relative clause hides a result, purpose, or causal clause- a subjunctive is used.

EX: milites  misit qui hostis circumdarent = He sent soldier who would surround the enemy.


Conditions “If clauses” ( If X happens, then Y is the result.) [ X being the subject of one clauses and Y being the subject of the other]

Conditions that have subjunctive in both clauses  then it should be translated with ‘” would, should, were,”


Present Subjunctives-  future time- (If X were to happen Y would happen)

Imperfect Subjunctives-  present time- (If X were now happening, Y would be happening)

Pluperfect Subjunctives-  past time- (If X had happened, Y would have happened)



Here is a great and inspirational video for any learner, who is struggling with Grammar & Subjunctives! *Warning this may contain some adult humor since it TED Talks are usually aimed at college students.

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Some material and examples are in courtesy and alterations of thoses used in “Reading Latin” by Jones & Sidwell