Contact us with your California corporate & securities law questions (949) 353-6347 or Contact us here

Why The Capitol Is In The Capital

Article III, Section 2 of the California Constitution provides that "Sacramento is the capital of California".  The building in which the legislators meet, however, is denominated the "capitol" building.  Thus, the state capitol can be found in the state capital.  But why the variant spelling?

Both words are derived from the Latin word for head - caput.  "Capital" is formed by joining caput to the suffix -alis meaning "characteristic of".   A capital is figuratively the head of the particular jurisdiction in which it is located.

The etymon of "capitol" is also caput, but the term was applied in its literal, not figurative, sense.  Here, is the story according Titus Livius (aka Livy) who lived in the first centuries B.C.E and C.E.:

[S]ecutum aliud magnitudinem imperii portendens prodigium est: caput humanum integra facie aperientibus fundamenta templi dicitur apparuisse.  quae visa species haud per ambages arcem eam imperii caputque rerum fore portendebat . . . .

Another prodigy portending the greatness of the empire followed: a human head with a whole face is said to have appeared to those excavating the foundation of the temple [of Jupiter Optimus Maximus].  The appearance was by no means ambiguously foretelling that this will be citadel of the empire and the head of the world . . . .

T. Livy, Ab Urbe Condita (From the Founding of the City), Book 1, ch. 55, 5-6 (my translation).  The hill on which the temple was built was accordingly called the Capitoline Hill (Collis Capitolinus).

IMG_4934

The Capitoline Hill in Rome

Share on:

ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING CALIFORNIA CORPORATE AND SECURITIES LAW? CONTACT US DIRECTLY

We offer expert advice with the intricacies of California law.

Our years of experience and expertise allow us to help clients navigate the business laws in California.

CONTACT US

Get the latest news and analysis about California Corporate & Securities law. Subscribe to our newsletter today!

We respect your email privacy

ABOUT OUR AUTHOR

30172DBAB0084D3A8F39D7AF0A8E79BC.ashx Keith Paul Bishop
Partner at Allen Matkins
(949) 353-6328
 Contact me
Learn More About Keith

nominee-badge

Get the latest news and analysis about California Corporate & Securities law. Subscribe to our newsletter today!

We respect your email privacy

CATEGORIES

see all

RECOGNITION

YOUTUBE

FACEBOOK