19 October 2009


A correspondent is quite right to point out that in liturgical Latin the Abl/dat of anima is (always??) animabus and not animis. Put the slip down to my so many decades of teaching Classical Latin, where, I suspect, only filia and dea operate (for obvious reasons) in this way.

Thinking about it, I recall also famulabus in liturgical Latin. What other examples are there?

I wonder if animabus goes back far enough to count as another example of Christine Mohrmann's point about the deliberate archaism of liturgical Latin. Or whether it's simply to distinguish anima from animus.


johnf said...

Interesting but why?
anima -ae 1st declension according to my latin dictionary, so why the irregular dat/abl plural?

Patruus said...

Animabus, ecclesiabus, famulabus, filiabus, monachabus, and villabus and cited in the context of Christian Latin in this article:

(If required, Google Translate will produce something intelligible.)

John F H H said...

Thank you, Patruus, for the fascinating link.

John U.K.

johnf said...

Thanks also Patruus

Figulus said...

Surely not always! It seems I encounter "animis" at times in the Liturgia Horarum, but no particular example comes to mind just now.

A quick google search of likely sites turns up many mostly ambiguous examples of "animis", but here, at least, is one that is not the least bit ambiguous: "Pro animis ergo, quae ipsis credentur, studeant se sanctificare, et divinae ad sacram militiam vocationi diligentissime obsequi." (From http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/letters/1962/documents/hf_j-xxiii_let_19620227_sanctitatis-altrix_lt.html) Also from the Act of Reparation, "Quae deploranda crimina, cum universa expiare contendimus, tum nobis singula resarcienda proponimus: vitae cultusque immodestiam atque turpitudines, tot corruptelae pedicas innocentium animis instructas, dies festos violatos, etc.", although I suppose that one may be ambiguous. Also JPII's epistle on the death of Saint Methodius, "post fervidam fortissimamque vitam, quam omnem in praedicando Evangelio convertendisque animis impendisset, Methodius caeleste praemium tulit, eiusque mortales exuviae istic depositae sunt".

Sir Watkin said...

I can't recall whether animabus becomes universal in Medieval Latin (and don't currently have access to the relevant books to check), but I'd hazard a guess that most, if not all, unambiguous instances of animis are a result of (post-)Renaissance classicising, whether deliberate or unconscious.

Thomas said...

In Latin there are several cases where (if it weren't for an irregular dat./abl. pl.) two different words would be indistinguishable. Take filia, -ae and filius, -i. The dat. and abl. plural of both these words should be filiis. To distinguish between the feminine (first declension) and masculine (second declension) forms filia, -ae has an irregular dat./abl. pl. filiabus. The same is true of anima, -ae. There is a second declension noun animus, -i. The two words have distinct meanings in Latin.

Anima has a physical meaning, lit. the "breath" of a person. By extension it can mean a person's "life-force" or "soul", but only in the sense of physicality. The anima is that part of you which would descend to the underworld. Really it means a person's "breath".

By contrast, animus is the immaterial principle of a person--their "soul" in the sense of the seat of thought or the rational principle. The better translation is, then, "mind".

I imagine in Ecclesiastical Latin anima took on animabus (on the model of other words like filia) for the purpose of clarity.