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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Ablative of Means of Instrument

410. The deponents ūtor, fruor, fungor, potior, vescor, with several of their compounds,1 govern the Ablative:—

ūtar vestrā benīgnitāte(Arch. 18), I will avail myself of your kindness.

ita mihi salvā rē pūblicā vōbīscum perfruī liceat (Cat. 4.11), so may I enjoy with you the state secure and prosperous.

fungī inānī mūnere (Aen. 6.885), to perform an idle service.

aurō hērōs potitur (Ov. M. 7.156), the hero takes the gold.

lacte et ferīnā carne vescēbantur (Iug. 89), they fed on milk and game.

Note— This is properly an Ablative of Means (instrumental) and the verbs are really in the middle voice (§ 156. a). Thus ūtor with the ablative signifies I employ myself (or avail myself) by means of, etc. But these earlier meanings disappeared from the language, leaving the construction as we find it.

a. Potior sometimes takes the Genitive, as always in the phrase potīri rērum, to get control or be master of affairs (§ 357. a):—

tōtīus Galliae sēsē potīrī posse spērant (B. G. 1.3), they hope they can get possession of the whole of Gaul.

Note 1— In early Latin, these verbs are sometimes transitive and take the accusative:—

fūnctus est officium (Ter. Ph. 281), he performed the part , etc.

ille patria potitur commoda (Ter. Ad. 871), he enjoys his ancestral estate.

Note 2— The Gerundive of these verbs is used personally in the passive as if the verb were transitive (but cf. § 500 . 3): as, — Hēracliō omnia ūtenda ac possidenda trādiderat’ (Verr. 2.46), he had given over everything to Heraclius for his use and possession (to be used and possessed).

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Notes
1
These are abūtor , deūtor (very rare), dēfungor , dēfruor , perfruor , perfungor .