Thursday, September 15, 2016

Where's There: Stercoraria

Stercoraria was a tiny village in Gaul where Saint Fidgeta was born (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies; 11).


First a few words about the -ia suffix, if only to pad this post. It pops ups in names of diseases (malaria), locations (Romania), names of Roman feasts (Saturnalia), and Latin plurals (insignia). Chances are you've been to a washeteria (laundromat), cafeteria (place to eat), or planetaria (museum of astronomical phenomena) in recent memory.

You'll find such words in Catholicism, too: the curia is an assembly or council in which issues are discussed and decided, the most famous being the Curia of the Roman Catholic Church which assists the Pope. Latria is a theological term used in Roman Catholic theology to mean adoration.

Many people are familiar with the word salaria linking employment, salt, and soldiers: Roman historian Pliny the Elder stated that "[I]n Rome. . .the soldier's pay was originally salt and the word salary derives from it...". As salaria pertains to salt and salivaria pertains to salvia, so then would it be that stercoraria pertains to feces or dung.

Conditions in Gaul - an ancient Latin designation for a region of western Europe occupied by present-day France, Belgium, and western Switzerland - may have lived up to the fictional village's name.

History does not record whether Stercoraria was ever confused with the nearby village of Shinolia.

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