Lingua latina in Roma Nova


Fear not, I’m not going to write this post all in Latin, but I thought I’d make a glossary of words used in the Roma Nova novels. Some are Latin, some derived from Roman customs or functions.

You’ll only find them sprinkled here and there in the books, something novelists do to add authenticity or atmosphere. It’s a fine line how much to include; writers can become too wrapped up in their own created world and forget that not everybody is equally obsessed!

Latin Meaning Comments
 Salve! Hello  Plural, salvate!
 Vale! Goodbye, literally ‘fare well’ As in Ancient Rome
Macte! Well done! The first Latin Conrad ever said to Carina
Plica, Editio, Promere, Mittere File, Edit, View, Send Computerspeak
Merda! Shit! No comment!
Custos (plural custodes) Police Replaced the vigiles (singular vigilis) who had been corrupted during the Great Rebellion
Sanitas bona! Cheers! (Literally, good health!) Dexia first uses this to Carina in the Washington legation
Consiliaria (f)
Consiliarius (m)
Councillor Equivalent to a cabinet minister in the Western sense
Imagines Plaster and marble busts and masks of ancestors Often displayed in the vestibule, or hallway
Domus Mitelarum House of the Mitelae The ancestral home of the Mitela family
Senior Justiciar Rank in the custodes, equivalent to sergeant Derived linguistically from justitiarius but I changed its meaning from judge to law enforcer
Proscriptee Somebody whose civil and public rights have ben removed and whose property is forfeit. Proscription is only ordered in very serious cases. A leftover from Dictator Sulla’s time in the Republic, but no decapitations these days
Scarab Slang word for a cop Completely made up word and concept, but based on the hard-backed dung-beetle, i.e. one that processes shit.
Macellum Shopping centre/mall From the Latin for  provision market
Primipilus Senior centurion of a legion/regiment Equivalent to an RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) A tough, experienced and terrifying solder who knows everything about everybody
Novendiale A commemorative feast nine days after a funeral Derived from novem, nine
Manes The spirits of the dead As per Ancient Rome
Pluto in Tartarus! One of the strongest swearing expressions in Roma Nova (Look away now if you are of a delicate disposition.) Equivalent to ‘Fucking hell!’
Domina (f)  ‘Lady’ a form of address, from a person of lower civil rank to a higher Derives from dominus, Latin equivalent of ‘sir’ or ‘master’. Aurelia calls Silvia ‘domina‘, but Junia, Aurelia’s steward, calls Aurelia ‘domina‘.
Argentaria Prima The biggest commercial bank in Roma Nova. Handles some transactions on behalf of the state Derives from argentaria, a banking house, sometimes a silver mine. Prima means first
Nuncia (f),
nuncio (m)
Equivalent of ambassador who heads up a Roma Novan overseas legation. Nuncia literally means ‘she who conveys messages’.  Roma Novan embassies are called legations. It sounds more Latin than ’embassy’.

For  some official and legal terms and institutions comparing Ancient Rome with Roma Nova, have a look at this post.

The words in the table above are just a few plucked out of the six books. Do let me know if there are any others you’d like me to add to the list.



Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, is now out.

Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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