This page deals with part of the I region of Italy, comprised between the river Tiber and the river Liris, the Tyrrhenian sea and the country of the Sabini, Aequi, Marsi, etc. It includes the cradle of the Roman civilization, i.e., the Latium vetus, inhabited by the Latini. North of the river Anio, some Latin towns were in the land of the Sabini (the so-called Sabina Tiberina). Other small peoples were the Hernici in the mountains, the Rutuli and the Aurunci on the coast. The south part of the region was inhabited, in historical times, by the Volsci and the Samnites. Also included are the islands in the Tyrrhenian sea.
Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische Wörterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.
Alba Longa, Albanus lac., Albanus m.
Algidus m., Algidum
Tiberis fl., Albula fl.
The variant Thybris, found also in Greek sources, could have been the original "Pelasgian" spelling, since in this language there is evidence of a shift from the voiceless stops to voiceless aspirated stops, with the aspiration usually not marked in Latin. The feature *bh>b is also compatible with the "Pelasgian" language. The "Pelasgian" can be responsible of various place-names of the neighboring Southern Etruria.
The oldest name Albula has to be the original Western Italic name, before the arrival of the "Pelasgians". It derives from the IE root *albho- 'white', also a productive root for river names. An exact counterpart is found in Albula fl. (Picenum)
Tolerus fl., Trerus fl., Toleria
Sabini, Aequi (north of the Anio fl.)
Astura fl., Astura i.
Fabrateria Vetus, Fabrateria Nova
Liris fl., Clanis fl.
The former name of the river, Clanis, has an exact counterpart in Clanis fl. (Etruria). It has also been compared with various place-names of the type glan-, all in the Celtic domain. For the sostratists, a stem clan-/glan- has to be invoked, meaning 'mud, slime' (UTET). But, on the contrary, the Celtic appellatives mean 'clean, shine' and are usually derived from the form *g'hle- of the IE root *g'hel- 'to shine green, gold, blue'. This etymology may fit the phonetics of a language of the Liguro-Sicanian stock, characterized by a particular stop shift for which *gh>k.
Circeius m., Circeii
Fundi, Fundanus lac.
The more ancient name should be Tarracina. It has been related to the Etruscan tarchna, the name of Tarquinia (Etruria), and to Tarraco (Tarraconensis), and explained from a "mediterranean" stem *tarr- with unclear meaning (UTET). The name can reflect an "Auruncan" stratum. A possible explaination could be from a compound *tars-akw-(ena), where the adjective means 'dry' and is from the IE root *ters- 'dry, thirst', in an A-language or from a zero-grade form, and with *rs>rr as assumed for different languages. The second part of the name could be 'water', from the IE root *akwa- 'water'. The ending is just a common IE suffix.
Most of the placenames of Latium are related to, or can be explained with Latin appellatives. This stratum is just the Latin or, better, the Proto-Latin one. We use the term of Proto-Latin to call a language of the Western Italic group, which in some cases shows residual voiced stops even in initial position. This can be the case of the language of the Siculi, who are reported to have lived in Latium before to move to Sicily. The shift of the initial voiced stops these into f- has to be a later development, which applied to what became the Latin, but not to the Siculian. For the rest, it is impossible to distinguish between Latin and Siculian, so they have been grouped under the label 'Western Italic'.
In the Sabine, Volscan and Aequan areas, the toponymy is largely attributed to the Eastern Italic (Osco-Umbrian) stock. The Volscan is thought by M. Durante to have been more similar to the Umbrian that to the Oscan. Sabine and Aequan were probably intermediate languages.
Along the Tyrrhenian sea, there is some evidence of a possible "Liguro-Sicanian" stratum, showing a peculiar shift of the voiced aspirated stops into voiceless: *dh>t, *gh>k, *bh>p. This stratum should have been the primitive one in the Western Italy, before the so-called Western Italic tribes moved, possibly from the Truentus fl. basin.
Last modified: November 3, 2002