Alternatives to the Ablative of Agent

There are two: per + accusative and operā + genitive.

  • Recall that operā (sans ā/ab) is operating as an Ablative of Instrument
  • These are constructions where the agent/instrument sense breaks down: with per, animate agents seems to work as instruments, and with operā, the (instrumental) labor of an agent take the place of that agent.

Agents with Per Construction

  • Caesar was informed by scouts: Caesar ab explōrātōribus certiorātus est.
  • Cesar was informed by scouts: Caesar per explōrātōrēs certiorātus est.
  • He was trampled by charioteers: ab origīs compressus est.
  • He was trampled by charioteers: per origās compressus est.

Agents with Operā Construction

  • Caesar was informed by scouts: Caesar ab explōrātōribus certiorātus est.
  • Caesar was informed by the work of scouts: Caesar operā explōrātōrum certiorātus est.
  • The walls were cleaned by a slave: mūrī ab famulō lōtī sunt.
  • The walls were cleaned by slave’s labor: mūrī operā famulī lōtī sunt.

While we’re at it, note the odd forth principle part of wash: lāvō, lāvāre, lāvī, lōtum.

  • Really, it varies: it can also be lautum or lāvātum, depending on the author.

The Essential AG: 405b

Ablative of Agent (2/2)

It’s critical to differentiate the Ablative of Instrument and Ablative of Agent.

  • Instrument uses [ablative]; Agent uses [ab/ā + ablative]

Exempla

  • He perished by the sword: gladiō occīsus est.
  • He was killed by the enemy: ab hoste occīsus est.
  • He was vexed with a problem: curā vexātus est.
  • He was haunted by the ghosts of his past: ab manibus priscīs vexātus est.

With the first example, the sword is the tool used to kill him, not the sentient agent committing the act. With the second example, the problem is the source of his worries, but the problem is not a sentient agent. The Ablative of Instrument has a sense of inanimate agency, but only the Ablative of Agent carries a sense of animate agency.

  • Animals tend to sit in the seam between these two options: sometimes they are instruments, sometimes agents. Look for ā/ab! This will not only help to make the silly distinction, but also help to show the kind of agency the author is attempting to associated with the ablative construction.

For more on the Ablative of Instrument: http://wp.me/p2eimD-52

The Essential AG: 405n2; 405bn2

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

Cases and Relations of Place

Summary of Relations of Place

The basic relations of place are: (a) place from which, (b) place to which and (c) place where

  • Place from which : ablative ab, dē, or ex
  • Place to which : accusative + ad or in
  • Place at which : ablative in 

Originally, these were implied by the cases themselves. “The accusative…denoted the end of motion. The ablative… denoted the place from which, and… the place where” (AG, 426). Prepositions exist to add precision.

Forthcoming posts will explore exceptions, variations and precise rules associated with particular nouns. For now, let’s get the basics settled:

Place From Which (ab, dē, ex +abl.)

They came from the north: ā septentriōne vēnērunt.

The sheep descend from the mountain: pecus dē prōvinciā dēscendit. 

The send hostages from Britain: ex Britanniā obsidēs mittunt. 

Place To Which (ad, in + acc.)

They came by night to the river: nocte ad flūmen vēnērunt.

He sails to Africa today: hodiē in Āfricam nāvigat. 

She will send her brother to Italy: fratrem in Ītaliam mittet. 

Place At Which (in + abl.)

She passed her entire life in this city: in hāc urbe tōtam vītam dēgit.

They had remained in Gual: in Galliā remanerant. 

The Essential AG: 426

Famous Phrase: creātiō ex nihiliō [creation from nothing]

Three word summary of the First Cause position in the philosophy of religion, which places this or that divine creator at the head of all creation. For those of you disinterested in the precise tenets of the argument, here’s a brief ‘history‘ of its traces in the ancient world.

Comparison of Gerund and Gerundive (Ablative)

Summary of Comparison

The gerundive, or perfect passive participle, is a verbal adjective, which conveys a sense of necessity, obligation or propriety

  • The gerundive may appear in any case, according to its corresponding noun

The gerund is a type of gerundive, appearing only the oblique (non-nominative) cases, used substantial as a verbal noun

  • This use of the gerundive, always neuter singular, is comparable to the English gerund, which ends in -ing

For a more basic discussion of gerunds and gerundives, see the articles on ‘Gerunds’ and ‘Gerundives’ elsewhere in this blog

 

Gerunds and Gerundives with the Ablative

The ablative of gerunds and gerundives has three purposes: (1) as an ablative of manner, means, or cause, (2) after comparatives, (3) after certain prepositions

In each use, the gerund and gerundive have similar frequencies

These ablatives may take a direct object, but they do so rarely

 

Ablative of Manner, Means and Cause

  • He persuades by large promises: multa pollicendō persuādet. (gerund)
  • She is equal to any man in speaking Latin: Latīnē loquendō cuivīs pār est. (gerund)
  • He revealed by reading these very things: hīs ipsīs legendīs ostendābat. (gerundive)

With Comparatives

  • No duty is more important than repaying favors: nūllum officium referendā grātiā magis necessārium est. (gerundive)
  • He enjoys reading more than writing: legendō magis quam scrībiendō fruitur. (legendō is abl. with fruor, describing manner) (gerund)

After Prepositions

  • These prepositions are ab, dē, ex, in and prō 
  • I want to be employed in conducting affairs: in rē gerendā versārī volō (gerundive)
  • She spoke of mourning: lugendō orābat. (gerund)

 

The Essential AG: §507

 

Famous Phrase: castigat rigendō mōrēs. (one corrects custom through laughter)

[neo-Latin phrase coined by the French poet Jean de Santeul]

 

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