Why 'Mark Antony' and not 'Marcus Antonius?'
February 25, 2011 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Why do we say 'Mark Antony' and not 'Marcus Antonius?' His name seems unique among Romans in the way we name them now - is it?
posted by tomboko to Writing & Language (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pliny elder and younger were named Plinius in Latin.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2011


See also Livy.
posted by AugieAugustus at 10:55 AM on February 25, 2011


And Virgil was Publius Vergilius Maro. Ovid was Publius Ovidius Naso. There are probably a whole bunch of these, now that I think about it.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:55 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Horace was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, yeah, there are a ton of these.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2011


Even Emperors: Vespian was Titus Flavius Caesar Vespianus Augustus. Domitian was Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus. And I believe that these are true Anglicanizations rather than merely declined Latin forms. Horace might be the correct vocative for Horatius, but I don't think so.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2011


Latin is a different language, so I'd suspect it's similar to how we say Muammar al-Gaddafi instead of معمر القذافي‎ , or Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev instead of Дми́трий Анато́льевич Медве́дев, or a better example might be something like a city name - we say Copenhagen, but the city is named København. Closer to "home," Roma vs. Rome - Firenze vs. Florence, etc.
posted by jardinier at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, we do this for lots of folks from ancient history -- I'm not sure if exonym is the right word for it, but it's close. It's even worse when it gets filtered through multiple languages, and you wind up with the Old Persian name Ḫšayāršā turning into Xerxes.
posted by theodolite at 11:18 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


My guess would be that for English, a lot of these are by way of French, in which the names are simplified from the original Latin following a similar pattern. (The same would also explain Rome instead of Roma and Florence instead of Firenze, because that's what they're called in French, too.) French has a huge influence on how we in the English-speaking world render classical names, historical names, European geographical names, etc.
posted by Kosh at 11:24 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everyone else is right that we do this to some degree for every ancient person, but the specific "Mark Antony" transcription-- as opposed to just "Antonius," which seems more logical to me-- might have something to do with Shakespeare.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:26 AM on February 25, 2011


Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev instead of Дми́трий Анато́льевич Медве́дев

A better example would be the Евге́ний (Yevgeniy) from Евге́ний Оне́гин turning into the very English Eugene, although this seems to be almost sui generis in English versions of Russian names (we don't say John Turgenev or Theodore Dostoyevsky).
posted by theodolite at 11:27 AM on February 25, 2011


I think there's a whole chapter about this in Hofstadter's Le ton beau de Marot, which is a fascinating book if you're at all interested in translation and language.
posted by theodolite at 11:28 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Vespasian
posted by elle.jeezy at 11:28 AM on February 25, 2011


as opposed to just "Antonius,"

...or as opposed to "Antony" sans "Mark." I mean that the anglicization of the praenomen "Marcus" is actually kind of weird.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:32 AM on February 25, 2011


In addition to all the transliteration issues listed above, the fact is that most all of the names WE know Roman Emperors and other personages as (Calligula, Claudius, , Scipio, Vespasian, Hadrian, etc.) were not the names by which their contemporaries knew them.

Part of this comes from the fact that, quite simply, Romans were not terribly creative in the naming department, and if we referred to all the Romans by their given names, there would be no way to keep one Gaius separate from all the hundreds of others.
posted by absalom at 11:39 AM on February 25, 2011


On a related note, I was surprised to learn recently that the letter "c" was always a hard consonant in Latin, which means that every time I've ever heard Caesar--ever--it has been mispronounced.

So I guess it's Kayser Augustus, not Seezer Augustus.
posted by General Tonic at 12:10 PM on February 25, 2011


And the "j" is always soft, so it's more like Yulioos Kayser than Dzulius Seezer.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:12 PM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


A better example would be the Евге́ний (Yevgeniy) from Евге́ний Оне́гин turning into the very English Eugene, although this seems to be almost sui generis in English versions of Russian names (we don't say John Turgenev or Theodore Dostoyevsky).

The consensus of this askme thread seemed to be the spelling and sometimes the pronunciation (OY-gen with hard G) is likely because of filtering through German transliteration and pronunciation, which is more common for things related to classical music.

I think there is some truth in that--just for example, we also have Peter Tchaikovsky rather than Pyotr, with both the Peter and the Tch spelling reflecting a stop along the way in German or related languages.
posted by flug at 12:16 PM on February 25, 2011


For Mark Antony in particular, blame Shakespeare.
posted by philokalia at 12:51 PM on February 25, 2011


On a related note, I was surprised to learn recently that the letter "c" was always a hard consonant in Latin, which means that every time I've ever heard Caesar--ever--it has been mispronounced.

No. "Caesar" (see-zur) is the English word for the Latin word "Caesar" (kai-zar), just as "Confucius" is the English word for 孔夫子. The correct pronunciation of the English word "Caesar" is "see-zur".
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:05 PM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


On a related note, I was surprised to learn recently that the letter "c" was always a hard consonant in Latin, which means that every time I've ever heard Caesar--ever--it has been mispronounced.

The classical pronunciation of veni, vidi, vici would have been close to Weni, Widi, Wiki.
posted by atrazine at 4:36 PM on February 25, 2011


No. "Caesar" (see-zur) is the English word for the Latin word "Caesar" (kai-zar), just as "Confucius" is the English word for 孔夫子. The correct pronunciation of the English word "Caesar" is "see-zur".

I thought that "Confucius" was the Latinization of 孔夫子 by the Jesuits.

Here, a decade into the 21st century, I think that English has too often down through history been letting other languages have their wicked way, not to mention had its wicked way with other language's words and with its own words for that matter, to talk about correctness and propriety. The correct English of today is English Lite, in which anything goes. Leave the conformation and cleaving to proper, official, endorsed pronounciation for languages like French that actually care.
posted by XMLicious at 12:08 AM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I guess it's Kayser Augustus, not Seezer Augustus.

See also: "Kaiser," "Czar," and "Keyser Söze."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:09 AM on February 26, 2011


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