Where DID those Roma Nova titles come from?

Choosing book titles is like being prodded by Pluto in the underworld with a red hot trident for eternity.  One commenter on social media said: “They sound great, but I can’t help but cringe at the titles. Not quite Latin. I suppose that’s probably the point, but ouch. Intriguing, though.

I admit, I thought ‘ouch’ back, but also smiled to myself. Perhaps she hadn’t looked them up on one of the excellent online dictionaries such as Perseus (Tufts University)LatDictNotre Dame University or a good paper Latin dictionary (OLD or Collins).

So I’m taking the opportunity of changing the covers to spiffy new ones to go into the gory detail. One major consideration was that the titles had to be understandable to a non-Latin speaking reader, yet retain a strongly Roman tone. This was not easy!

INCEPTIO
The beginning, for the heroine and for the reader
inceptio, inceptionis

noun, 3rd declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: start, beginning, an undertaking, enterprise
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Frequency: For Dictionary, in top 20,000 words
Source: Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1982 (OLD)

CARINA
A feminine derivative of carus, cara
adjective
Definitions: costly, precious, valued, dear, beloved
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Frequency: Very frequent, in all elementary Latin books, top 1000+ words
Source:“Oxford Latin Dictionary”, 1982 (OLD)

PERFIDITAS
I’ll admit PERFIDITAS is partly made up! It’s based on
perfidia, perfidiae
Noun, 1st declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: faithlessness, treachery, perfidy
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Frequency: For Dictionary, in top 20,000 words
Source: General, unknown or too common to say

The trouble was there was a very popular song called ‘Perfidia‘ written by Mexican Alberto Dominguez and which has been recorded by countless artists. I didn’t want the book to look as if it was about a girl called Perfidia, so I piggy-backed perfidia onto the form used in romanitas (‘Roman-ness’) to change the word but retain the meaning.

SUCCESSIO
It has a double meaning: ‘the next generation’ (an update on ‘successors collectively’) and ‘what happened next’ taking on the idea of successive events.
successio, successionis
Noun, 3rd declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: succession (to position/ownership w/GEN), successors collectively
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: Legal, Government, Tax, Financial, Political, Titles
Geography: All or none
Frequency: For Dictionary, in top 10,000 words
Source: Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1982 (OLD)
Lewis & Short dictionary also give a meaning: a good issue, or success that followed (something before it).

AURELIA
Plain and simple – a Latin woman’s name. The most famous Aurelia in Roman history was the well connected Aurelia Cotta, the mother of G Julius Caesar.
The gens Aurelia was a plebeian family of Rome. They served the Republic with distinction and flourished under the Empire. Many later families of citizens enrolled under the authority of emperors or magistrates bearing this nomen took  Aurelius as their new citizen name. It became so common that by the latter centuries of the Empire it became difficult to distinguish members of the gens from other people bearing the name.

NEXUS
In Latin, nexus means a binding together, fastening, tying together, joining, interlacing, entwining, clasping, with a hint of imprisonment. Also a bondsman, an obligation between creditor and debtor
In English, nexus means a connection or series of connections linking two or more things, also a central or focal point.
Noun, 4th declension, gender: masculine
Definition: A tying or binding together, a fastening, joining, an interlacing, entwining, clasping.
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Source: Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, Clarendon Press. 1879

INSURRECTIO
This title caused me no little brain-pain! It’s about rebellion, uprising and revolution, but I shied away from rebellio because it sounded like a Latin teenager! INSURRECTIO seemed stronger and harsher. And it had to be a word understood immediately by non-Latin speakers.
insurrectio, ōnis
Noun, 3rd declension, gender: feminine
Definitions: a rising up, insurrection
Age:In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area:All or none
Geography:All or none
Frequency:For Dictionary, in top 20,000 words
Source: A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.

RETALIO
rĕ-tālĭo , āre,  verb
Definition: to retaliate
A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.

RETALIO is a slight cheat as the usual word for retaliation in Latin, talio,  doesn’t have the ‘re’ in front of it, but I thought it would make more sense to 21st century readers with the prefix.

talio, onis
Definition: retaliation
Age: In use throughout the ages/unknown
Area: All or none
Geography: All or none
Frequency: 2 or 3 citations
Source: Charles Beard, “Cassell’s Latin Dictionary”, 1892 (CAS)

ROMA NOVA EXTRA
This is a collection of short stories, so ‘extra’ to the main eight stories, but ‘extra’ in Latin means ‘outside’, so they are outside the main storylines. 😉

Update 2022

JULIA PRIMA
Julia is such a familiar name that it almost needs no explanation! Almost… The Roman gens Julia, one of the most ancient patrician families of Ancient Rome, includes notable women such as Julia Augusta (also known as Livia Drusilla), the wife/counsellor of Emperor Augustus, and Julia the Elder, the daughter of Augustus and (unhappy) wife of Tiberius. Of the men in that family, Gaius Julius Caesar is the most (in)famous one.

As a given name, Julia was used throughout Late Antiquity but became rare during the Middle Ages. It was revived only with the Italian Renaissance and became common in the English-speaking world only in the 18th century. Today, it’s frequently used throughout the world. And therein lives the problem…

If you put ‘Julia’ into Amazon under the heading ‘Books’, you get 60,000 responses, so something else was needed.  The character, Julia Bacausa, is one of the two founders of the Apulian line that went on to become leaders of Roma Nova, so pinching an idea from Star Trek – Spock Prime – I gave Julia a word that signified this prominence in the Roma Nova story, but in Latin. It also signifies ‘first’ as in first daughter, although that tradition is a bit tenuous by the late 4th century. The results from Amazon for JULIA PRIMA?  Sixteen and not one of them the book’s title. 🙂

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. JULIA PRIMA, a new Roma Nova story set in the late 4th century, will be out on 23 August.

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