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.)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:
arctus, i m bear (II decl.)
Alexander, dri m Alexander (II decl., like vir man)
satrapes, is m Persian governor (III decl.)
poëma, -atis n poemThe spoken language, for its part, was inclined to treat such words as feminines of I declension.
thema, -atis n theme
The educated Romans have even accepted the original Greek endings for
some words of III declension:
So we encounter:
epitome n abridgement Gen. sg. epitomes, Acc. sg. epitomen, Abl. sg. epitome;The personal names on –as, –es and –eus are declined as follows:
Ilias f Iliad, the Homer’s poem Gen. sg. Iliados & Iliadis.
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.
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