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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Ablative of Means or Instrument

409. The Ablative is used to denote the means or instrument of an action:—

certantēs pūgnīs, calcibus, unguibus, morsū dēnique (Tusc. 5.77), fighting with fists, heels, nails, and even teeth.

cum pūgnīs et calcibus concīsus esset (Verr. 3.56), when he had been pummelled with their fists and heels.

meīs labōribus interitū rem pūblicam līberāvī (Sull. 33), by my toils I have saved the state from ruin.

multae istārum arborum meā manū sunt satae (Cat. M. 59), many of those trees were set out with my own hands.

vī victa vīs, vel potius oppressa virtūte audācia est (Mil. 30), violence was overcome by violence, or rather, boldness was put down by courage.

a. The Ablative of Means is used with verbs and adjectives of filling, abounding, and the like:—

Deus bonīs omnibus explēvit mundum (Tim. 3), God has filled the world with all good things.

aggere et crātibus fossās explent (B. G. 7.86), they fill up the ditches with earth and fascines.

tōtum montem hominibus complēvit (id. 1.24), he filled the whole mountain with men.

opīmus praedā (Verr. 2.1.132), rich with spoils.

vīta plēna et cōnferta voluptātibus (Sest. 23), life filled and crowded with delights.

Forum Appī differtum nautīs (Hor. S. 1.5.4), Forum Appii crammed with bargemen.

Note— In poetry the Genitive is often used with these words. Compleō and impleō sometimes take the genitive in prose (cf. § 356); so regularly plēnus and (with personal nouns) complētus and refertus (§ 349. a):—

omnia plēna lūctūs et maerōris fuērunt (Sest. 128), everything was full of grief and mourning.

ōllam dēnāriōrum implēre (Fam. 9.18), to fill a pot with money. [Here evidently colloquial, otherwise rare in Cicero.]

convīvium vīcīnōrum compleō (Cat. M. 46, in the mouth of Cato), I fill up the banquet with my neighbors.

cum complētus mercātōrum carcer esset (Verr. 5.147), when the prison was full of traders.

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