Philosophia: I've been saying it wrong all my life...


Civis Illustris
It's a couple of weeks that I found out that philosophĭa has the last i short... So, it's philosóphia in Latin, not philosophía (as in Greek)...

I wonder how many things I say wrong. Hopefully more listening (the podcasts links Cinefactus left me in the other thread) will help me with this.


New Member
The general rule is that when two vowels follow eachother, the first should be short. Exceptions are words borrowed from Greek basically.


Staff member
It is possible that at least educated Latin speakers, who would have known Greek, would have pronounced it in a Greek-ish way, with the accent on the i.

I don't know if there is any evidence for what was done in classical Latin with Greek borrowings with an original accent that violated Latin accentuation rules. I only know that some medieval Latin poets retained the Greek accent placement in such words.


Civis Illustris
E. g.: In his "Reply to the Address of Symmachus“ Prudentius (b. 348 AD) wrote the following hexameters (1, 33f.):
estne ille e numero paucorum qui diadema
sortiti aetheriae coluerunt dogma sŏphīae?
Unfortunately the notion „philosophia“ does not occur in poems (nota bene: so far as I can see).


Civis Illustris
Est quidem mirum: cf. Ilias 15, 412:
εὖ εἰδῇ σοφίης ὑποθημοσύνῃσιν Ἀθήνης
Forsitan Prudentius "sŏphīae" scripserit ut elegantia sua verba metro accommodaret.


Civis Illustris
Unfortunately the notion „philosophia“ does not occur in poems (nota bene: so far as I can see).
I don't suppose there are any verse forms that could accommodate the word, whether the I is short or long.
In words with 4 syllables that start in 3 short syllables (like religio, Italia), poets often took the liberty of lengthening the first syllable. I don't know if the same practice was classically accepted with 5-syllable, but Boetius (who is rather late) did it with "philosophiae" – he lengthened both i's:

BOETH. elog. 1, 1
Hic iacet interpres et alumnus phīlosophīae
Emeritus famam super astra Boetius ille,
Quo Latium gaudet, dolet olim Grecia uicta.

He also lengthened the i in "sophiae" ... and even the o:

BOETH. elog. 3, 5
Hoc in sarcophago iacet ecce Boetius arto
Magnus et omnimodo magnificandus homo,
Quem sōphīa suis prae cunctis compsit alumnis,
Quem sibi grande decus contulit ipse deus.

Earlier poets read "sophiae" as an anapest, though:

ENN. ann. 211
Nec quisquam sophiam, sapientia quae perhibetur,
In somnis uidit prius quam sam (=suam) discere coepit

VERG. app. ciris 4
Irritaque expertum fallacis praemia uulgi
Cecropius suauis exspirans hortulus auras
Florentis uiridi sophiae complectitur umbra

MART. epigr. 1, 111, 1
Cum tibi sit sophiae par fama et cura deorum,

MART. epigr. 7, 74, 9
Hic pius antistes sophiae sua dona ministrat,

I looked for analogies ... e.g. the word analogia ... I believe it is anālogīam in this example (with the second a and the i lengthened)

MART. CAP. nupt. 3, 289, 5
Hic ordo rebus, quique disgregabitur
In bina demum. prima nam proportio
Dicenda, Graii anālogīam quam uocant.

But here is an example of eulogia with short o and i:

AMBR. dist. 5, 2
Iacob fraude bona, patri dum suggerit escas,
Praecipit eulogiam, per dulcia frusta lucratus.


Civis Illustris
Diligentissime perquisitum!
Especially late Christian poets took the liberty of disregarding traditional quantities both of Latin and of Greek words.


Staff member
It could be that they retained the Greek accent and then instinctively lengthened the i because a short i being accented in that position was so unnatural in Latin.


Civis Illustris
There are a lot of words ended in -ia. For instance, Regilla's name in Latin: Appia Annia Regilla Atilia Caucidia Tertulla. (In Greek, however: Ἀππία Ἄννια Ῥήγιλλα Ἀτειλία Καυκιδία Τερτύλλα.)

Considering that a lot of names in Latin are ended in -ius, fem. in -ia (Cornelius, Claudius, Aemilius, Iulius and so on, and so on...), the common man would naturally say sóphia and philosóphia. :think:


Cívis Illústris
There's a difference as well between Latin and Greek in that the final -a of σοφία is long in Greek (but not in Latin in the nominitive).


Feles Curiosissima
I don't suppose there are any verse forms that could accommodate the word, whether the I is short or long.
You could do it in galliambic:

u u | - u - u | - - || u u - u u u u|-
Sŭpĕr | āltă vēctŭs | Āttĭs || cĕlĕrī phĭlŏsŏ|phĭā ...

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Hemo Rusticus

Lounge Lizard
I was once acquainted with a lovely young woman named Sophy. You could call what I felt for her φιλοΣοφία...