Dative of Agent (2/2)

This post considers places where the Dative of Agent invades what would normally be constructions suitable to the Ablative of Agent.

With Passive Perfect Participles

With passive verbs, the Dative of Agent is most common with perfect passive participles, especially when these are virtually adjectival.

  • It has been deliberated and established by me: mihi dēlīberātum et cōnstitūtum est.
  • This has been provided for by you: tibi haec prōvīsa est.
  • The lights have made me dizzy: lūcibus cālīgātus sum.

Note that, with the final expression, lūcibus may be either Dative or an Ablative of Instrument (but not an Ablative of Agent, since there is no ā/ab). In this case, assume it’s an Ablative of Instrument, which is altogether more common, especially with something inanimate like ‘lights.’


With Passive Verb

The Dative of Agent is not unheard of with standard passive verbs, especially with the poets.

  • He is not seen by anyone: nōn cernitur ūllī.
  • He was favored by the nymph: Nymphō fovēbātur.

With Videor

The construction ‘it seems to x‘ is expressed with videor, vidērī, visus + Dative of Agent.

  • He seemed to me a horse with wings: mihi equis cum ālīs vidēbātur.
  • It seemed otherwise to the gods: dīs aliter vīsum est.
  • It seems to me that you are a slob: sordidus mihi vidēris.

With Probō

According to AG, probāre takes a Dative of Reference, but it’s so regularly attached that it seems like a Dative of Agent. I’m not sure I buy this, but here’s what they mean:

  • This view was approved by both him and me: haec sententia et illī et mihi probābātur.
  • This plan was not approved by the majority: hōc cōnsilium plēris nōn probābātur.

The Essential AG: 375

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Dative of Agent (1/2)

My recent posts on the Ablative of Agent sent me back to my earlier work on the Gerund/Gerundive distinction, and I realize that I never fully articulated that gerundives take a Dative of Agent.

  • This province is for you to defend: haec vōbis prōvincia est dēfendenda.
  • I have to fight one thousand matches: mihi est mille certamina pugnandum.
  • The armor you must wear is in the cabinet: arma gestanda tibi in armāriō sunt.

AG would like us to compare this construction to the dative of possession, viewing the gerundive as an ascribed duty for the dative Person:

  • I have to fight one thousand matches: mihi est mille certamina pugnandum.
  • My name is Commodus: mihi nomen Commodus est.

With the Second Passive Periphrastic construction (always gerundive + sum), the Ablative of Agent (ā/ab + ablative) may appear where a dative would be ambiguous.

  • To whom must you submit: quibus est ā vōbis cēdendum?
  • To whom should we give the books: quō ā nōbis librōs legendōs sunt?

The Essential AG: 374

My earlier work on the Gerund/Gerundive divide starts here. Flip posts at the bottom of the page to find the one you want. There are five of them on the topic.

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

Nouns of Agency

Nouns of Agency

Nouns of agency are nouns derived from verbal stems which describe and agent or actor associated with the action.

Endings in -tor and -trix

Some nouns of agency are derive from the use of the endings -tor (or -sor) for male agents and –trix for female agents

  • the endings are attached to the stem of the verb’s perfect passive participle
  • canere (to sing) –> cantus –> cantor, cantoris / cantrix, cantricis (singer)
  • vincere (to conquer) –> victus –> victor, victoris / victrix, victicis (victor)
  • petere (to seek) –> petitus –> petitor, petitoris / petitrix, petitricis (candidate

Occasionally, -tor and –trix may also be added to noun roots

  • via, -ae (road) –> viator, viatrix (traveller)

Endings in -es

Further, agent nouns may be derived by adding -es to the stem of the verb’s present active infinitive:

  • praestare (to stand before) –> praestes, praestitis (guard)
  • tegere (to cover) –> teges, tegetis (coverer, mat)

Again, also from nouns

  • pes, pedis (food) –> pedes, peditis (foot-soldier)

Endings in -o

Finaly, the ending -o describes persons employed in a particular trade

  • Again, these are derived from the stem of the verb’s present active infinitive:
  • gerere (to carry) –> gero, geronis (carrier)

The Essential AG: 236