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Gaius vs Caius

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Originally there was no "G" or "U" in the Latin alphabet, or lower-case letters, so the earliest form of that praenomen was "CAIVS". Later when "G" was added to the alphabet, "GAIVS" became an alternate spelling, but both praenomina were still most commonly abbreviated with a "C". Same with the praenomina "CNAEVS" and "GNAEVS", with both being most commonly abbreviated with a "CN."


Pronunciation had much to do with the addition of the "G" to the Latin alphabet, but that's something I'll leave to the language mavens on this board.


-- Nephele

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While I don't have any sources on here, the later addition of the 'G' to the alphabet probably relates to speakers creating a voiced /g/ (represented by 'G') counterpart to the voiceless /k/ (represented by 'C'). I don't recall how common the /g/ sound was in Old Latin, and I don't have my sources here, so I'll defer this to someone else. But that's what I see with that addition.

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I'll just add to the excellent explanations given by Nephele and the doc. Plutarch makes mention of the instroduction of G into the Latin alphabet:


Plutarch, Roman Questions, No. 54


"For C and G have a close relationship in Latin, and it was only after many years that they made use of G, which Spurius Carvilius introduced."


According to William Smith, Carvilius did this in the "beginning of the sixth century of the city". Smith also says:


Dict. Bio & Myth, p. 196:


"Caius was undoubtedly the original spelling, used at a time when the letter C, which occupies in the Roman alphabet the place of Gamma in the Greek, had, in some cases, the power of Gamma. Caius was always pronounced Gaius..."

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