borrow, lend and share / by Anthony Gibbins

This post is as much for myself as for anyone else. I have long been wondering about these important words, and decided to set out in investigation.

My first memory of seeing the Latin word for borrow is while reading Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis. It occurs in the first chapter, when Hagrid arrives on a motorbike, which Peter Needham has translated as birotula automataria. Dumbledore asks Hagrid unde illam birotulam automatariam nactus es? From where did you obtain that motorbike? This Verb is, by the way, nanciscor, nancisci, nactus sum to obtain, get, come upon, find. Hagrid responds mutuatus sum illam, Professor Dumbledore, domine I borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir. The Verb to borrow is mutuor, mutuari, mutuatus sum.

From what I can see, there are two ways to express the Verb to lend. The first is with an Adjective related to mutuor; mutuus borrowed, lent, mutual, reciprocal.  Cicero, for example, uses this expression in one of his letters to Atticus; to lend someone money alicui dare pecuniam mutuam, which literally translates as to give someone lent/borrowed money. Smith’s English-Latin Dictionary stresses that this is the best expression, when implying an actual loan. The Verb commodo, commodare, commodavi, commodatum can mean to lend, but it can also mean to please, to oblige, to furnish. Thus, while you do see expressions such as aurum commodare to lend gold, you also see the likes of reipublicae tempus commodare to make time for the republic and aurem commodare our to lend someone an ear.

In Book I of the Aeneid, the hero brings back a large quantity of hunted deer to share among his men. The Verb Virgil uses is partior, partiri, partitus sum.

hinc portum petit, et socios partitur in omnes.

Thence he makes for the harbour, and shares [the food] among all his allies.

But, and again I am relying here on Smith, partior appears to be used when one individual is sharing up property among others, not taking a slice for him or herself. For that other sense of to share, the Verb is communico, communicare, communicavi, communicatum to enjoy with others, possess in common. From Livy, for example, we have civitatem nostram vobiscum communicare to share our state with you. This is the meaning of share that I wanted for Claudia’s lunch with Marcus.

After the play we were both hungry. We found a place suitable for lunching. Kind Marcus shared his lunch with me.


The Lego model of Pompeii is housed in the Nicholson Museum of The University of Sydney, Australia. Entry to the museum is entirely free, and you may visit Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 4:30. The Nicholson is Australia’s oldest University museum and contains the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere. 

The Pompeii model was commissioned by the Nicholson and constructed by LEGO Professional Builder Ryan McNaught. It is the third such model the museum has exhibited, following the Colosseum and Acropolis.  The Colosseum was returned to McNaught and recently exhibited around Australia. The Acropolis was denoted by the Nicholson to the Acropolis Museum in Athens. The Pompeii model is estimated to include 190 000 bricks and took 420 hours to complete.