Ablative of Agent (1/2)

The ablative of agent is expressed with ā or ab, and denotes an agent associated with a passive verb. In basic cases, this means the [ab + ablative] unit would be the nominative subject in an active construction.

  • Hats are worn by these men, but scorned by those men: capellī ab hīs gestantur, sed ab illīs spernantur.
  • made active
  • These men wear hats, but those men scorn hats: hī capellōs gestant, sed illī spernant.
  • He was brought to trial by his sons: ā fīliīs in iūdicium vocātus est.
  • made active
  • His sons brought him to trial: eum fīliī in iūdicium vocāvērunt.

According to AG, this construction is developed from the ablative of source. “The agent is conceived as the source or author of the action.” -AG, 405n2

  • How is this not a chicken/egg scenario? They don’t work to justify their claim, but it might be that claiming a ‘source’ is a perceived ‘agent’ offers agency to all things, whereas claiming an ‘agent’ is a ‘source’ merely relates a relationship between two things.

The ablative agent may appear with active verbs, but only where they are intransitive and allude to a passive meaning.

  • She was killed by the elephants: periit ab elephantīs

The Essential AG: 405, 405a


Passive Datives Retained

If a verb operates with an indirect dative, this dative is retained even in the passive variation.

  • They announced these misfortunes to Cato: Cātōnī haec miserea nuntiābant.
  • This misfortunes were announced to Cato: Cātonī haec miserea nuntiābantur.
  • She offered the queen the swans: rēgīnae cycnōs obtulit.
  • The swans were offered to the queen: rēgīnae cycnī oblātī sunt.
  • They protected the children from the coming arrows: puerīs aggressās sagittās prohibuērunt.
  • The arrows were prevented from reaching the children: puerīs aggressae sagittae prohibitae sunt.

Looking at the Latin, it’s pretty clear that verbs of protecting, defending and prohibiting prefer active constructions, whereas verbs of announcing, giving, presenting etc. are more flexible.

The Essential AG: 365

Double Constructions with Verbs of Defending, Prohibiting and Protecting

Normally, we can conceive that interclūdō (hold off) and prohibeō (prohibit) would take an accusative Person with an ablative Object (of separation).

  • He blocked their every approach: hōs totō aditū interclūsit.
  • They prohibit our approach: nōs adventū prohibent.

However, verbs of of defending, prohibiting and protecting may also take the accusative Object and dative Person.

  • He blocked their every approach: hīs totum aditum interclūsit.
  • They prohibit our approach: nōbis adventus prohibent.

Verbs with this Construction:

  • dēfendō, dēfendere, dēfensī, dēfensus: to defend
  • prohibeō, prohibēre, prohibuī, prohibitus: to prohibit or defend
  • interclūdo, interclūdere, interclūsī, interclūsus: to hold off
  • dētineō, dētinēre, dētenuī, dētentus: to hold off
  • muniō, munīre, munīvī, munītus: to wall off, defend
  • servō, servāre, servāvī, servātus: to defend

Recall that interdīcō is an exception: taking dative+accusative or dative+ablative.

For more: http://wp.me/p2eimD-bl
The Essential AG: 364n2


A Forbidding Post

interdīco, interdīcere, interdīxī, interdīctus: forbid
Interdīco (forbid) gets a note of it’s own in A&G because it’s case constructions have varied over time.

  • Earlier writers present interdīco + dative Person & ablative Thing Forbidden
  • Later writers use interdīco + dative Person & accusative Thing Forbidden


  • They forbade him fire and water: aquā et īgnī eō interdīxērunt.*
  • Shall we forbid the women from wearing purple: fēminīs purpurae ūsū interdīcēmus?
  • He forbade the actors from appearing on the stage: histriōnibus scaenam accedere interdīxit.

*This was the standard formally for expressing ‘he is banished’

Also, I discovered during the construction of this post that ‘forbid’ is never the past tense of the English ‘forbid.’ It is usually ‘forbade’ and rarely ‘forbad.’ I hope I wasn’t the only person making this mistake… for 21 years…

The Essential AG: 365n1


Verbs with Double Constructions

Many Latin verbs display flexibility of case use. For instance, the following verbs will take either (a) accusative Person + dative Gift; or (b) dative Person + ablative Gift.

  • dōnō, dōnāre, dōnāvī, dōnātus: give
  • impertiō, impertīre, impertīvī, impertītus: bestow
  • induō, induere, induī, indūtus: put on (clothes)
  • exuō, exuere, exuī, exūtus: take off (clothes)
  • adspergō, adspergere, aspersī, adspersus: sprinkle, scatter, splatter (alt. aspergō, aspergere, etc.)
  • īnspergō, īnspergo, īnspergere, īnspersī, īnspersus: sprinkle, scatter ‘into’
  • circumdō, circumdāre, circumdedī, circumdatus: enclose, encircle


  • She gives her daughter a car: Fīliae autoraedam dōnat.
  • She gives her daughter a car: Fīliam autoraedā dōnat.
  • [More formally, we might say ‘she presents her daughter with a car.’]
  • He puts the robe on his son: Nātō vestem induit.
  • He puts the robe on his son: Nātum veste induit.
  • [More formally, we might say ‘he dresses his son with a robe.’]
  • I sprinkled the altar with water: Ārae aquam aspersī.
  • I sprinkled the altar with water: Āram aquā aspersī.
  • [More formally, for the first ‘I sprinkled water on the altar.’]
  • I enclosed the horses with a fence: equīs caevam circumdedī.
  • I enclosed the horses with a fence: equēs caevā circumdedī.
  • [More formally, for the first ‘I placed a fence around the horses.’]

The Essential AG: 364


Greek Nouns (in Latin) of the Second Declension

Consider this a sequel to my earlier post on Greek Nouns (in Latin) of the First Declension: http://wp.me/p2eimD-aX

  • As with “Greek” first-declension nouns, these second-declension nouns decline like their regular Latin counterparts in the plural
  • Like the Greek second declension, nouns are by-and-large masculine or feminine
  • For the singular, they decline more regularly than the first-declension nouns. Have a look:

So, a few things:

  • These correspond more or less identically corresponding second-declension Greek nouns, with the genitive -ου rendered as the regular Latin -ī and dative -ῳ rendered as -ō
  • The exception here is Athōs, which declines more like an Attic-declension noun (see below)
  • Occasionally, the plural nominative -οι appears as -oe, rather than the typical Latin -ī
  • Nota bene that certain Greek names, like Odysseus, are actually third-declension nouns, which we’ll get to shortly.

For more on second-declension Greek nouns and the Attic declension:


The Essential AG: 52


Greek Nouns (in Latin) of the First Declension

Latin features loanwords from Greek, which I doubt will surprise you. A&G mentions a host of proper names, as well as “about thirty-five” other words in the first declension.

  • “Greek forms” are only a feature of singular nouns, since the “Greek” nouns decline like typical Latin nouns in the first declension plural
  • By my reading, all or nearly all of these verbs correspond to the first/α-declension in Greek

From what I see, these more or less correspond to the four basic variations of the Attic first declension, with the datives -ῃ and -ᾳ rendered as -ae, and the genitive -ου as (again) -ae.

The Greek is slightly complicated beyond the ‘four basic variations’ (some would say there are six basic, and there are certainly eight total). That’s not my line of work, so here’s a Wiki Synopsis:

Indeed, the Latin nouns are complicated too. Suffice it to say what I’ve offered above is a very terse representation of the numerous variations that A&G offer on each of these nouns. They also offer 5 additional sample nouns with different variations.

The Essential AG: 44