Declension of the Greek words

The circumflex accent ( ˆ ) is used to denote the length of the vowels.


Thousands of Greek words have penetrated into Latin, especially in its classical period and later on, with the christianization of the Roman empire.

The nouns of Greek origin were distributed between the I, II and III declensions according to their endings, cf.

philosophia, ae f philosophy (I decl.)
arctus, i m bear (II decl.)
Alexander, dri m Alexander (II decl., like vir man)
satrapes, is m Persian governor (III decl.)
The grammarians, however, have tried to preserve some specific features of the Greek nouns, as they were in their language of origin. Thus, it was stated the words on –ma to be of neuter, as in Greek, and to be declined on the pattern of the III declension:
poëma, -atis n poem
thema, -atis n theme
The spoken language, for its part, was inclined to treat such words as feminines of I declension.

The educated Romans have even accepted the original Greek endings for some words of III declension:
 
Gen. sg. 
Acc. sg.
Acc. pl.
–es, –os
–en, –a
–as

So we encounter:

epitome n abridgement Gen. sg. epitomes, Acc. sg. epitomen, Abl. sg. epitome;
Ilias f Iliad, the Homer’s poem Gen. sg. Iliados & Iliadis.
The personal names on –as, –es and –eus are declined as follows:
 
Cases
–as
–es
–eus
Nom.
Gen.
Dat.
Acc.
Abl.
Voc.
Andreas 
Andreae 
Andreae 
Andream, Andrean
Andrea 
Andrea
Anchises 
Anchisae 
Anchisae 
Anchisen, Anchisam 
Anchisa 
Anchisa
Orpheus 
Orphei, Orpheos
Orpheo, Orphei
Orpheum, Orphea
Orpheo 
Orpheu

The Christian Latin has adopted, mainly via Greek, some important words of Semitic (Hebrew or Aramaic) origin. Usually they are not declined – one form is used for all cases (casus generalis).

Thus names like Isaac, Israël (Israhel), Mariam, Jacob, Sabbaoth etc. and words like seraphim are invariable in all cases. On the other hand, names as Maria and Lazarus follow the patterns of I and II declensions.


Next Topic
Previous Topic
Descriptive Latin Grammar

Latin Language Main Page
Orbis Latinus Main Page

This page is part of Orbis Latinus
© Zdravko Batzarov