[Gāius or Gāium] aegrōre lētālī necātus est?

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Michael Zwingli

Senior Member
English - American (U.S. - New England)
Hello all.
In my unending struggle with the subject of case in Latin, I have a question about the proper case to use for a noun as in the above-shown example, particularly where the verb is passive (in this case, perfect passive indicative). If one were to make the statement (ignoring the absurdity of that statement, for the moment): Gāius aegrōrem lētālem necāvit, "Gaius has killed a deadly disease", then Gāius definitely would take the nominative as the subject of the sentence and the agent of the active verb, and aegror lētālis would take the accusative as the direct object of the sentence. However, if one were to make the verb passive in order to say that "Gaius was/has been killed by a deadly disease", would he want to make "Gāius" take the accusative Gāium, so that the sentence reads: Gāium aegrōre lētālī necātus est? "Gāius" seems to be the object of the verb in this sentence when the verb is passive, but I remain unsure of that. Basically, I am unsure of whether changing the verb from active to passive makes the noun Gāius change from subject to object, and the noun phrase aegror lētālis from the direct object to a sentence subject in the ablative. Aegror lētālis would clearly have to be in the ablative herein the passive verb sentence, because it is the instrument of the verb when the verb is passive, but can the subject of a Latin sentence take the ablative (I had thought not)? A little guidance on this, if you please...
 
  • jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    You should use the nominative, as in:

    Regina regem amat. active
    Rex a regina amatur. passive

    Remember that nominatives, not accusatives, conjugate verbs: rex amatur, amabar, amatus est; reges amantur, amabantur, amati sunt.
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    Remember that nominatives, not accusatives, conjugate verbs...
    That would seem to be the rule to remember. Obrigado!
    In a passive (or deponent) construction the 'instrumental ablative' is common...
    Yes, I did have some realization of that, but thanks, Scholiast, for refreshing my memory in regards to what it is called. If you will indulge me, I do have one question as pertains to that particular usage: in which cases should one wish to include the ablating preposition: ab/ā within such a construction? Jazyk's example, for instance, contains it: Rex ā regina amatur, but Scholiast's does not: Rex aegrore letali mortuus est. It seems to me that it is not normally needed, save in a couple of specific instances: in cases for which the ablative and dative declentives of the noun showing instrumentality are identical, as they are with, for instance, the noun discipulus ("student"/"pupil"), wherein both the ablative and dative declentives are both discipulō (e.g. Liber ā discipulō aperītur, "The book is opened by the student.", wherein the ablative form (showing instrumentality), as opposed to the dative form, is indicated by the presence of ā), and additionally, when describing the instrumentality of a pronoun such as hic, which has a derived adverb hāc (derived from the ablative of means, rather than the somewhat different instrumental ablative), which is identical to the ablative form of the pronoun hāc, but has a somewhat different meaning (means as opposed to instrumentality). In such a case, using the ablating preposition would serve to indicate that it is the ablative form of the pronoun being used (indicating instrumentality), rather than the adverb (indicating means). Regarding the first of said instances, and using Jazyk's example, I think that one could simply say Rex regina amatur, and it could only but mean the same as Rex ā regina amatur, since the dative form of rēgīna is rēgīnae, and only the ablative form is spelled rēgīnā. Similarly, Scholiast does not need to say: Rex ā aegrore letali mortuus est., since the ablative and dative forms of aegror differ in form. In contrast, though, one would not want to say simply Liber discipulō aperītur, since that statement could mean either "The book is opened by the student." (if discipulō is ablative) or "The book is opened for the student." (if discipulō is dative), since both the ablative and dative forms of discipulus are discipulō. In such a case, I see that the ablating preposition ā (which is just an apocopic form of ab) indicates that the ablative meaning is intended, so that one should state: Liber ā discipulō aperītur. Regarding the second instance wherein the use of the ablating preposition is indicated, if one were "on the scene" (as it were), had witnessed the mortal blow, and were to snatch up the dagger of Publius Casca, one would want to state emphatically that: Caesar ab hāc mortuus est, pūgiō Cascae! "Caesar was killed by this, the dagger of Casca!", including the ablating preposition so that the hearers would not misinterpret, and think you are stating that "Caesar was killed in this way, the dagger of Casca!", which could be one meaning of the statement without the ablating preposition: Caesar hāc mortuus est, pūgiō Cascae! (that's the best example that I can come up with for that particular application of the ablating preposition with a pronoun and a deponent verb). I am a bit less sure of this second instance than I am of the first; is my thinking correct with respect to that? Perhaps the preposition is not necessary to distinguish between adverbial hāc and ablative-case pronoun hāc? Also, are there any other instances in which one would want to use the ablating preposition within passive voice and deponent verb constructions which I am missing?
     
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    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete Michael et alii!

    The general principle that I learned at what you would call 'high school' is that in passive constructions, if the ablative 'agent' is inanimate, Latin omits the preposition a/ab. But if you want to say 'The king was bitten by the dog', or 'he was killed by an assassin', you need a cane or a carnifice. And I have rarely if ever met counter-examples, though I am sure they can be found, especially in poetry.

    Grammar and usage however seldom follow the 'rules' consistently or exactly, so I would not be surprised to learn of exceptions to this 'normal' prescription.

    At the moment I cannot think of such an exception, but I would gratefully be contradicted by Jazyk or other contributors.

    Σ

    Edited adjunct: I think you mean pugionepugio(nis) is a regular 3rd-declension noun.
     
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    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    Sorry about the inconvenience, but I have one more question with regards to the use of the ablating preposition:
    The general principle that I learned at what you would call 'high school' is that in passive constructions, if the ablative 'agent' is inanimate, Latin omits the preposition a/ab. But if you want to say 'The king was bitten by the dog', or 'he was killed by an assassin', you need a cane or a carnifice.
    ...and...
    The rule I know is the same Scholiast explained.
    So, that is the rule that I will remember and follow. My question, however, has to do with substantives (substantivized adjectives), and even more with abstract nouns. I think that most substantives will fall into the "inanimate" category, but how are we to view abstractions, such as Latin custōdia ("protection"), fraudulentia ("deceitfulness"), māteria ("matter", "substance"); extrēmitās ("perimeter", "extremity"), fōrmōsitās ("beauty", "comeliness"), and ūnitās ("unity")? I would tend to say that such abtract nouns should be considered inanimate, and so one would not use ab/ā with them in composition, but I wanted to verify that with others more knowledgeable.
     

    Le parent italien

    New Member
    Italiano
    At the moment I cannot think of such an exception, but I would gratefully be contradicted by Jazyk or other contributors.
    Note 3— The Ablative of the Agent is commonest with nouns denoting persons, but it occurs also with names of things or qualities when these are conceived as performing an action and so are partly or wholly personified, as in the last example under the rule.



    nē virtūs ab audāciā vincerētur (Sest. 92)
    that valor might not be overborne by audacity
    (Audācia is, in a manner , personified here.)
     
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    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete omnes

    Yes, Italian parentage is clearly an advantage in this discussion! As initially I feared or suspected, my school-learned general principle was indeed subject to counter-examples. I protest only in this much, that as 'Le parent Italien' confessedly remarks, in this context audacia is personified.

    But grazie nonetheless.

    Σ
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    nē virtūs ab audāciā vincerētur (Sest. 92)...that valor might not be overborne by audacity
    Begging your pardon, I have a couple of questions about that interesting quotation.

    Firstly, I have had trouble finding this quotation online, so: who was "Sest."? He must have been a member of the gens Sestia, but there were numerous members thereof who were, variously: consul, decimvir, quaestor, praetor, etc. I am wondering which "Sestius" it was who wrote this.

    Secondly, I am wondering why the the imperfect passive subjunctive, vincerētur, is used here, instead of the present passive subjunctive vincātur , and how nē virtūs ab audāciā vincātur would read differently in English from nē virtūs ab audāciā vincerētur. My initial thoughts are that: if nē virtūs ab audāciā vincerētur is to be rendered as "that valor might not be overborne by audacity", then nē virtūs ab audāciā vincātur should be rendered as "may valor not be overborne by audacity". Am I correct about that? This construction has a few too many moving parts for me at my current knowledge level, with the subjunctive mood being complicated by the passive voice, and those having the imperfect tense lumped on top!
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    It must be a reference (I guess) to Cicero's pro Sestio, but my available editions don't run to 92 sections. Maybe le parent Italien could clarify the source or the edition(s) he is quoting from?

    But as to Michael Z's latest query: whether the subordinate verb is present or imperfect subjunctive depends entirely on the temporal context: if the talk is of a present supposition ['lest virtue be overwhelmed by insolence'], vincatur will be right; if on the other hand it is historical ['in order that virtue was not overwhelmed...' &c.], the imperfect vinceretur will be right.

    Σ
     
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    Le parent italien

    New Member
    Italiano
    Cicero's pro Sestio ,92.
    Milo et vidit et fecit, ut ius experiretur, vim depelleret. altero uti voluit, ut virtus audaciam vinceret; altero usus necessario est, ne virtus ab audacia vinceretur.
    I believe it is necessary to give some cultural framework to explain why luck, chance, destiny, audacity, etc., in Greek the fate , are personified. Otherwise this apparent exception to the rule becomes hard to understand.Maybe some other contributor could do it.
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    I've been thinking about the "soup" of voice, mood and tense represented by Le parent italien's Cicero quotation. Perhaps there are two possible translations of vincerētur within this sentence, depending on the part of speech that is fulfilling: nē virtūs ab audāciā vincerētur= "That virtue might not have been overwhelmed by insolence." (with as an adverb), or "Lest virtue might have been overwhelmed by insolence." (with as a conjunction) What do you think, am I catching on?
     
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    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Hello again.

    To my mind there is only one possible syntactical construal of this rhetorically pointed sentence:

    Milo et vidit et fecit, ut ius experiretur, vim depelleret. altero uti voluit, ut virtus audaciam vinceret; altero usus necessario est, ne virtus ab audacia vinceretur.

    'Milo both watched and acted in such a way that he might practise justice, and overcome brute force. He wanted to deploy the first, so that virtue might prevail over insolence, and necessarily he deployed the other, lest virtue be overwhelmed by insolence.'

    In other words, both ut and ne introduce purpose ('final') clauses.

    Σ
     
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