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