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Latium

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This page deals with part of the I region of Italy, comprised between the river Tiber and the river Liris, the Tyrrhenian sea and the country of the Sabini, Aequi, Marsi, etc. It includes the cradle of the Roman civilization, i.e., the Latium vetus, inhabited by the Latini. North of the river Anio, some Latin towns were in the land of the Sabini (the so-called Sabina Tiberina). Other small peoples were the Hernici in the mountains, the Rutuli and the Aurunci on the coast. The south part of the region was inhabited, in historical times, by the Volsci and the Samnites. Also included are the islands in the Tyrrhenian sea.

Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische Wörterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.

Samnium (428K)

Latium vetus

Abola

Alba Longa, Albanus lac., Albanus m.

Albunea fl.

Algidus m., Algidum

Ameriola

Amitinum

Aricia

Artena

Bola

Bovillae

Bubentum
  • Place: not identified, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Bubetani (Plin.) Bubentani (Dion.)
  • Etymology: The stem *bub- can be explained as a Latin reduplication samdhi-form for 'cattle, cow', that can be found in bubile 'cattle stable', bubulus 'buffalo', etc. The suffix is likely the IE -ent- 'rich of'. Than, if a place-name is behind the ethnical name, that would have meant 'place for cattle, rich of cattle'.

Cabum

Camerium

Castrimoenium
  • Place: Marino, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Castrimoenium (Plin.)
  • Etymology: The name means 'castle walls' in Latin. The town was founded in the 3rd century b.C. possibly above a Proto-Latin village, recorded in Pliny with its ethnical derivate, Munienses.

Cingulum

Corbio

Ferentum

Ficana

Gabii

Labicum
  • Place: Montecompatri, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Labicum (Liv., Dion., Verg., Sil., Plut., Dion.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. The intervocalic b should ensure that the name was (Proto-)Latin and not Eastern Italic.

Lanuvium

Laurentum
  • Place: Castelporziano di Roma, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Laurentum (Plin., Liv., Mel., Dion., Verg., Dio., Plut., Peut.)
  • Etymology: The name is related to Latin laurus 'bay', thus meaning 'wood of bays'.

Lavinium

Medullia

Mugilla
  • Place: Santa Maria delle Mole di Marino, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Mugilla (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Unknown, unless it is only a Latin nickname from muger 'cardsharper' (it is mentioned only once).

Ostia

Pedum

Politorium

Suessa Pometia

Praeneste

Regillus lac.

Roma
  • Place: needless to say
  • Name: neverending
  • Etymology: this is a taboo

Tellenae

Tiberis fl., Albula fl.
  • Place: river Tèvere, Central Italy
  • Name: Tiberis fl. (Ptol., Plin., Mel., Liv., Paul. Diac.) Thybris fl. (Plin., Verg.) Albula fl. (Liv., Plin.)
  • Etymology: The classical name Tiberis has counterparts in Tifernus fl. and Tifernum (Umbria), having been explained from the IE root *tibh- 'to melt', which is very productive for hydronyms. Related to the name, outside of Italy, are also Tibesis fl. (Dacia), Tibina fl. (Sarmatia).
    The variant Thybris, found also in Greek sources, could have been the original "Pelasgian" spelling, since in this language there is evidence of a shift from the voiceless stops to voiceless aspirated stops, with the aspiration usually not marked in Latin. The feature *bh>b is also compatible with the "Pelasgian" language. The "Pelasgian" can be responsible of various place-names of the neighboring Southern Etruria. A different etymology is that of Ancillotti (IRDAU) that considers the hydronym as Umbrian and from the IE root *dheubh- 'deep'. That implies a linguistic stratum where *dh>t, like the "Liguro-Sicanian" one, not an Umbrian stratum (where *dh>f). As a matter of fact, the Umbrian version of the name is that of Tifernum, which preserves the initial t-.
    The oldest name Albula has to be the original Western Italic name, before the arrival of the "Pelasgians". It derives from the IE root *albho- 'white', also a productive root for river names. An exact counterpart is found in Albula fl. (Picenum)

Tolerus fl., Trerus fl., Toleria

Tusculum
  • Place: Tuscolo di Frascati, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Tusculum (Ptol., Plin., Liv., Dion., Cic.)
  • Etymology: The name seems related to that of the Tusci, the Etruscans. The name formation is Tusco-lo- 'the settlement of the Tusci'.

Vitellia

Sabini, Aequi (north of the Anio fl.)

Aefula

Allia fl.
  • Place: stream Fosso della Bettina, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Allia (Liv., Verg.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Anio fl.

Antemnae

Caenina

Collatia

Corniculum
  • Place: Montecelio di Guidonia-Montecelio, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Corniculum (Plin., Liv.)
  • Etymology: The name is an appellative identical or related to Latin corniculum 'small horn'. Curiously, the present Romance name of the place is Monticelli 'small mounts'.

Crustumerium

Digentia fl.

Ficulea

Fidenae

Mandela

Nomentum
  • Place: Montedoro di Mentana, province Roma, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Nomentum (Ptol., Plin., Liv., Dion., Verg., Peut.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. Tentatively, the name may be related to Latin nemus 'grove'. The ending -ent- seems to be applied, in the Latin area, to designate a collective name.

Tibur

Trebula Suffenas

Varia

Verrugo

Hernici

Afilae

Aletrium

Anagnia

Capitulum Hernicum

Cosa fl.

Signia

Treba

Verulae

Samnites Pentri

Amiternum

Cominium

Interamna Lirenas

Rutuli

Ardea

Numicius fl.

Volsci

Amyclae

Antium

Aquinum

Arpinum

Astura fl., Astura i.

Atina
  • Place: Atina, province Frosinone, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Atina (Ptol., Plin., Liv., Verg.)
  • Etymology: The name has been compared to Atina (Lucania) and related to a personal name Atius, Etruscan atinate, to a Romance (Ligurian) atina 'a kind of elm', to a (pre-)Latin attinae 'stones used to mark the boundaries'. Another explaination is from a stem *at-, as a river-name [DNGI, p. 28]. This latter stem *at- has been proposed also by Villar to explain some place-names but especially personal names. Having excluded any relationship with Aternus fl. and *Atessa (Samnium), that we interpreted as "Picene", a derivation from a personal name could be supported by the presence of the ending -inum/-ina. Yet another explaination of *atina could be the same for some Celtic placenames and appellatives, such as Welsh odyn 'oven, stove', which are reconducted [Delamarre, p. 64] to the IE root *at(e)r- 'fire', thus marking the presence of a smith's forge.

Aufentus fl.

Carventum

Casinum

Cora

Corioli

Ecetrae

Fabrateria Vetus, Fabrateria Nova

Ferentinum

Forum Appii
  • Place: Borgo Faiti di Latina, province Latina, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Forum Appii (Plin.,)
  • Etymology: The name is the Latin forum 'marketplace', specified by the name of Appius who build the road Appia (the Appian way) that passed through this town.

Fregellae

Frusino

Liris fl., Clanis fl.

Longula

Melpis fl.

Norba

Polusca

Privernum

Satricum
  • Place: Borgo le Ferriere di Latina, province Latina, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Satricum (Plin., Liv., Dion.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Scaptia

Setia

Sora

Sulmo

Velitrae

Aurunci

Caieta

Circeius m., Circeii

Formiae

Fundi, Fundanus lac.

Lautulae

Minturnae

Pirae
  • Place: Scauri Vecchia di Minturno, province Latina, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Pirae (Plin.)
  • Etymology: The name is surprisingly identical to that of Pirae, Piraeus, the harbor of Athens. Maybe it is a name of Greek origin.

Tarracina, Anxur

Latian isles

Pandateria i.

Pontia i.
  • Place: island Ponza (Pontia i.) and islands Ponza, Palmarola and Zannone (Pontiae i.), province Latina, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Pontia i. (Ptol.) Pontiae i. (Plin., Liv., Mel.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. Maybe, the name is related to Greek pontos 'sea (route)', and is an old Mycenean designation 'the island(s) of the sea (route)'.

Conclusions

Most of the placenames of Latium are related to, or can be explained with Latin appellatives. This stratum is just the Latin or, better, the Proto-Latin one. We use the term of Proto-Latin to call a language of the Western Italic group, which in some cases shows residual voiced stops even in initial position. This can be the case of the language of the Siculi, who are reported to have lived in Latium before to move to Sicily. The shift of the initial voiced stops these into f- has to be a later development, which applied to what became the Latin, but not to the Siculian. For the rest, it is impossible to distinguish between Latin and Siculian, so they have been grouped under the label 'Western Italic'.

In the Sabine, Volscan and Aequan areas, the toponymy is largely attributed to the Eastern Italic (Osco-Umbrian) stock. The Volscan is thought by M. Durante to have been more similar to the Umbrian that to the Oscan. Sabine and Aequan were probably intermediate languages.

Along the Tyrrhenian sea, there is some evidence of a possible "Liguro-Sicanian" stratum, showing a peculiar shift of the voiced aspirated stops into voiceless: *dh>t, *gh>k, *bh>p. This stratum should have been the primitive one in the Western Italy, before the so-called Western Italic tribes moved, possibly from the Truentus fl. basin.