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Hello Maria.

Someone asked you a question on how "Better to reign in hell, Than serve in Heaven" is translated to latin and you answered with "In Inferis melius est regnare, quam in Coelis servire".

My question is this:
Why "in coelis" and not "in Caelum"?

Thanks in advance.
André

Answer
Hello,

please note that “in caelum” is wrong because it would mean “toward heaven” as an indirect object of a place to which, not “in heaven” as an indirect object of a place where.

In Latin, in fact,  relations of Place are expressed as follows:

1.The place from which, by the Ablative with the prepositions "ab"/"a" , "de" , or "ex" .
2.The place to which (or end of motion), by the Accusative with the prepositions  "ad" or "in".
3.The place where, by the Ablative with the preposition "in" (cf. “in coelis” where “coelis” is an ablative plural).

As for the use of the plural “coelis” in the ablative of place where, it has been determined by symmetry with the plural “Inferis”.

Lastly, I have to tell you that in Latin there are two equivalent forms, both meaning  "heaven","sky", i.e. the nominative neuter  “caelum” with the diphthong “-ae”, and the nominative neuter “coelum” with the diphthong “oe”, both pronounced like the E in “end”.

To sum up, “in coelis” is correct, whereas “in coelum/caelum” is grammatically wrong.

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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I am an expert in Latin & Ancient Greek Language and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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