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USES OF THE ABLATIVE

SEPARATION: Words signifying separation or privation are followed by the ablative.

Verbs meaning to remove, set free, be absent, deprive, and want take the ablative (sometimes with
a/ab or e/ex).

oculis se privavit, he deprived himself of eyes


omni Gallia Romanis interdicit, he bars the Romans from all Gaul
voluptatibus carere, to lack pleasures
non egeo medicina, I do not want for medicine
levamur superstitione, liberamur mortis metu, we are relieved from superstition, we are freed from
fear of death
soluti a cupiditatibus, freed from desires
multos ex his incommodis pecunia se liberasse, that many have freed themselves from these
inconveniences by money

Verbs compounded with a(b)-, de-, e(x)- (1) take the ablative alone when used figuratively; (2) when used
literally to denote actual separation or motion, they usually require a preposition.

Adjectives denoting freedom and want are followed by the ablative, sometimes with a preposition.

urbs nuda praesidio, the city bare of defense


immunis militia, free of military service
plebs orba tribunis, the people deprived of tribunes
a culpa vacuus, free from blame
liberi a deliciis, free from luxuries

SOURCE: The ablative, usually with a preposition, is used to denote the source from which anything is
derived, or the material of which it consists.

Rhenus oritur ex Lepontiis, the Rhine arises from the country of the Lepontii
ab his sermo oritur, the conversation begins from them
suavitas odorum qui afflarentur e floribus, the sweetness of the odors which wafted from the flowers
erat totus ex fraude et mendacio factus, he was entirely made up of fraud and falsehood
factum de cautibus antrum, a cave made from rocks
templum de marmore ponam, Ill build a temple from marble

Participles denoting birth or origin are followed by the ablative of source, generally without a preposition.

Iove natus et Maia, son of Jove and Maia


quo sanguine cretus, born of what blood
genitae Pandione, the daughters of Pandion
CAUSE: The ablative, with or without a preposition, is used to express cause.

neglegentia plectimur, we are chastised for negligence


gubernatoris ars utilitate non arte laudatur, the pilots skill is praised for its service, not its skill
certis de causis, for certain reasons
ex vulnere aeger, feeble from a wound
mare a sole lucet, the sea gleams from the sun

The ablatives causa and gratia, for the sake of, are used with a preceding genitive or with a modifier.

ea causa, on that account; qua gratia, for what purpose?


mea causa, mea gratia, for my sake
ex mea et rei publicae causa, for my own sake and the republic's
exempli gratia, for the sake of example

AGENT: The agent of a passive verb is expressed by the ablative with a/ab. The ablative of agent is
commonest with nouns denoting persons, but it is also used for things or qualities when they are conceived
of as performing an action and so are personified.

laudatur ab his, culpatur ab illis, he is praised by these, blamed by those


ab animo tuo quidquid agitur, id agitur a te, whatever is done by your soul is done by you
a filiis in iudicium vocatus est, he was brought to trial by his sons
ne virtus ab audacia vinceretur, lest valor be vanquished by audacity

The ablative of agent is sometimes used with intransitive verbs that have a passive sense.

perire ab hoste, to die (i.e., to be killed) by an enemy

MEANS: The ablative is used to denote the means or instrument of an action.

certantes pugnis, calcibus, unguibus, morsu, fighting with fists, heels, nails, and teeth
cum pugnis et calcibus concisus esset, when he had been pummeled by their fists and heels
meis laboribus interitu rem publicam liberavi, by my toils I have saved the state from ruin
multae istarum arborum mea manu sunt satae, many of those trees were sown by my hand
vi victa vis, vel potius oppressa virtute audacia est, violence was conquered by violence, or rather,
boldness was put down by courage.

COMPARISON: The comparative degree is often followed by the ablative meaning than.

Cato est Cicerone eloquentior, Cato is more eloquent than Cicero


quid nobis duobus laboriosius est, what is more burdened with toil than we two?
vilius argentum est auro, virtutibus aurum, silver is less precious than gold, gold than virtue
MANNER: The manner of an action is denoted by the ablative, usually with cum, unless an adjective modifies
the ablative noun.

cum celeritate venit, he came with speed


summa celeritate venit, he came with the greatest speed
quid refert qua me ratione cogatis, what difference does it make in what way you compel me?

cum is often used even when the ablative is modified by an adjective. If so, cum is usually placed between
the noun and the adjective.

quanto id cum periculo fecerit, with what risk he did this


non minore cum taedio recubant, they recline with no less weariness

ACCOMPANIMENT: The ablative, usually with cum, denotes accompaniment.

cum coniugibus ac liberis, with wives and children


cum funditoribus sagittariisque flumen transgressi, having crossed the river with archers and
slingers
quae supplicatio si cum ceteris conferatur, if this thanksgiving should be compared with others
quae [lex] esse cum telo vetat, the law which forbids [one] to be with a weapon
si secum suos eduxerit, if he should have led out his associates with himself

DEGREE OF DIFFERENCE: With comparatives and words implying comparison the ablative is used to denote
the degree of difference.

quinque milibus passuum distat, it is five miles distant


aliquot ante annis, several years before
aliquanto post suspexit, a while after, he looked up
multo me vigilare acrius, that I watch much more sharply
nihilo erat ipse Cyclops quam aries prudentior, the Cyclops himself was none wiser than the ram

DESCRIPTION: A noun in the ablative modified by an adjective may be used to modify another noun.

animo meliore sunt gladiatores, the gladiators are of a better mind


mulier eximia pulchritudine, a woman of exceptional beauty
Aristoteles, vir summo ingenio, Aristotle, a man of the highest intellect
de Domitio dixit versum Graecum eadem sententia, concerning Domitius he recited a Greek line of
the same sentiment
capillo sunt promisso, they have long hair
ut capite operto sit, to be of covered head

The ablative of description is much more common than the genitive in Classical Latin prose. They can be
used interchangeably, but the genitive tends to be used of essential, the ablative of incidental or temporary
characteristics.
PRICE: The ablative is used to express price.

agrum vendidit sestertium sex milibus, he sold the land for 6000 sesterces
Antonius regna addixit pecunia, Antony sold kingdoms for cash
logos ridiculos: quis cena poscit? jokes: who wants them for (at the price of) a dinner?
magno illi ea cunctatio stetit, that hesitation cost him a lot

With verbs of exchanging (e.g., mutare, commutare, permutare, vertere), either the thing taken or the thing
given in exchange may be in the ablative of price.

fidem suam et religionem pecunia commutare, to barter his faith and conscience for money
exsilium patria sede mutavit, he exchanged his native land for exile (he took exile in exchange for
his native land)

RESPECT: The ablative can denote that in respect to which anything is or is done.

virtute praecedunt, they excel in courage


claudus altero pede, lame in one foot
lingua haesitantes, voce absoni, hesitating in speech, harsh in voice
sunt enim homines non re sed nomine, for they are men not in fact, but in name
maior natu, older (with respect to birth); minor natu, younger
paulum aetate progressi, a bit advanced in age
corpore senex esse poterit, animo numquam erit, he may be an old man in body, he never will be
[old] at heart

TIME WHEN: Time when or within which is expressed by the ablative.

constituta die, on the appointed day


prima luce, at dawn
quota hora, at what o'clock?
tribus proximis annis, within the last three years
diebus viginti quinque aggerem exstruxerunt, within 25 days they built a mound

WITH VERBS: The deponent verbs uti, frui, fungi, potiri, and vesci take the ablative.

utar vestra benignitate, I will avail myself of your kindness


recordatione nostrae amicitiae fruor, I enjoy the memory of our friendship
fungi inani munere, to perform an idle service
auro heros potitur, the hero takes the gold
lacte et ferina carne vescebantur, they fed on milk and game meat

ABLATIVE ABSOLUTE: See Wheelock Chapter 24.

PLACE WHERE AND FROM WHICH: Covered on the prepositions handout.