Ablative of Means and Instrument (with Constructions)

Ablative of Manner, Means and Instrument (p 3/3)

 

Summary of Use

Allen and Greenough identify three major categories of case usage with the ablative: (1) the ablative proper, (2) the instrumental ablative and (3) the locative ablative

  • The ablative of means, manner and instrument are a collected heading under the (2) instrumental ablative

These uses of the ablative are part of what was once the instrumental case, so “no sharp line can be drawn between them, and indeed the Romans themselves can hardly have thought of any distinction” (AG 408)

The ablative of manner is often distinguished by the use of cum as an initiating preposition

 

Ablative of Means with Deponent Verbs

The verbs ūtor, fruor, fungor, potior, vescor and their compounds use the ablative of means or instrument

  • I will make use of your kindness: ūtar vestrā benīgnitāte.
  • The hero takes the gold: aurō hērōs potitur.
  • They fed on milk and game: lacte et ferīnā carne vescēbantur.
  • She enjoyed the songs: cārmēnibus frūctus est.
  • He performs the sacrifice carefully: hostiā religiōse fungitur.
  • I could use your sharp eyes here: hīc acerbīs oculīs utār.

With Opus and Ūsus

The impersonal constructions opus est and ūsus est take the ablative of instrument, with ūsus est the rare variant of the two

These constructions favor an ablative participle over an ablative noun

  • There was need of haste: properātō opus erat.
  • I must have your best cunning and cleverness: opus est tuā exprōmptā malitiā atque astūtiā.
  • There is need of magistrates: magistrātibus opus est.
  • Now there is need of arms: nun vīribus ūsus est.

Opus est may also appear as a predicate, with the corresponding noun as nominative subject

  • We need a chief and authority: dux nōbis et auctor opus est. 
  • Here are the things which are required: hīc sunt quae opus sunt.

 

Famous Phrase: quod nōn opus est, asse carum est.

(what you don’t need is pricey at a penny)

[motto for frugality]

– Seneca, Epistulae Morales, 94 (quoting Cato the Elder)

 

ablative_means_instrument_p2.pdf

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