Old Latin Genitives in -erum and -us


  • Krzysztof Tomasz Witczak University of Łódź, Poland
  • Jerneja Kavčič University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia




dual number, elliptic forms, genitive case, Latin epigraphy, Old Latin


In this article, I shall attempt to explain certain anomalous genitive singular and plural forms in the Latin language of the pre-Classical era. Contrary to the opinion prevalent in current scholarship, I shall contend that forms ending in *-us found in this role continue the old genitive dual in -ūs (< *-ous), preserved in fixed phrases as well as in texts of a religious and legal character; cf. pro aede Castorus (CIL I2 582) ‘in front of the temple of the two Castores’. Similarly, aberrant gen. pl. forms like boverum ‘boum’ (Cato, Agr. 62; Varro, Ling. 8.74) will be analyzed as ultimately rooted in the obsolescent dual number. The innovative genitive plural in -ērum, I will argue, was created by fitting out old nominative and accusative dual forms with additional plural morphology, cf. *bovē nom.-acc. du. ‘two oxen’, gen. pl. bovērum ‘of oxen’ (originally ‘of two oxen’).


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