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Doing some basic research into Livy’s use of the term fat-um -is (fate) because I was interested in this passage at the end of the description of Hannibal’s dream at 21.22.9;

pergeret porro ire nec ultra inquireret sineretque fata in occulto esse

he was therefore to go on, nor enquire further, but suffer destiny to be wrapped in darkness. (translation – Loeb)

My interest in this little passage is sineret fata in occulto esse, which I translated as something like ‘he must allow the fates to be in secret’. You’ll note fata, the plural, is used here, but the Loeb has the singular ‘destiny’. I was wondering if the plural form has a special meaning, like aedis (temple, room), aedes (house). I asked about some of my fellow post-grads, and oddly enough, two out of three instantly said, “I am sure that’s the form it’s normally in”. Well, is it? Not when you look in the Oxford Latin Dictionary, and certainly not in Livy, it turns out.

Here I am also indebted to the work of Iiro Kajanto, 1957, God and Fate in Livy (Turku) a book which I’m not pleased to say I had to get out on inter-library loan and which is due back shortly. There’s a table on page 63, where he breaks out between fatum and fatalis (e.g. fatalis dux) but here I’m concerned much more with the different cases of fatum and have excluded the adjective. I used Brepolis to do the search. I reproduce the spreadsheet data at the end.

From the data:

The first decade (i.e. books 1 to 10) has 27 of 39 total occurrences. Books 21-45 have 12. The top three books are book 5 (7), book 8 (6) and book 1 (5). After book 30, there are fatum in any form only appears 3 times (all of them the dat/abl singular, fato).

The dat/abl sing.fato is the single most common form in Livy, nearly half of the references (18 of 39) are in this form. I presume because of the forms “by fate”, “with fate”, “to fate”, “from fate” etc. Outside the first decade, it is nearly all fato – actually the occurrence in book 21 is the only time fata is used after book 10 (plus there’s one occurrence of the nom/voc/acc sing. form fatum and one of gen pl. fatorum otherwise it’s fato all the way).

Of each case + number variant: fatum 2; fati 3, fato 18, fata 8, fatorum 1, fatis 7. Singular forms 23, plural 16. Nom/voc/acc s + pl, 10 times, gen s + pl, 4 times, dat/abl s + pl, 25 times.

The raw results from the Brepolis search (with the text in context) can be seen in a PDF here: Livy – fat-um -i search results.

Here is a breakdown of those results in tabular format:

(UPDATE: The html table formatting in the CSS of this WordPress template makes this a complete fail. I attach the Excel XLSX file instead : Occurances of fat-um -is in Livy.xlsx).