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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Ablative Absolute

420. The Ablative Absolute often takes the place of a Subordinate Clause.

Thus it may replace—

    1. A Temporal Clause (§ 541 ff.):—
    2. patre interfectō, [his] father having been killed. [This corresponds to cum pater interfectus esset, when his father had been killed.]

      recentibus sceleris êius vestīgiīs (Q. C. 7.1.1), while the traces of the crime were fresh. [Cf. dum recentia sunt vestīgia .]

    3. A Causal Clause (§ 540):—
    4. at eī quī Alesiae obsidēbantur praeteritā diē quā auxilia suōrum exspectāverant, cōnsūmptō omnī frūmentō, conciliō coāctō cōnsultābant’ (B. G. 7.77), but those who were under siege at Alesia , since the time, etc., had expired, and their grain had been exhausted, calling a council (see 5 below), consulted together. [Cf. cum diēs praeterīsset, etc.]

      Dārēus, dēspērātā pāce, ad reparandās vīrīs intendit animum (Q. C. 4.6.1), Darius, since he despaired of peace, devoted his energies to recruiting his forces. [Cf. cum pācem dēspērāret.]

    5. A Concessive Clause (§ 527):—
    6. at eō repūgnante fīēbat (cōnsul), immo vērō eō fīēbat magis (Mil. 34), but though he (Clodius) opposed, he (Milo) was likely to be elected consul; nay, rather, etc.

      turribus excitātīs, tamen hās altitūdō puppium ex barbarīs nāvibus superābat (B. G. 3.14), although towers had been built up, still the high sterns of the enemy's ships rose above them.

    7. A Conditional Clause (§ 521):—
    8. occurrēbat eī, mancam et dēbilem praetūram futūram suam,cōnsule Milōne (Mil. 25), it occurred to him that his prœtorship would be maimed and feeble, if Milo were consul. [sī Milō cōnsul esset.]

      quā (regiōne) subāctā licēbit dēcurrere in illud mare (Q. C. 9.3.13), if this region is subdued, we shall be free to run down into that sea.

      quā quidem dētrāctā (Arch. 28), if this be taken away.

    9. A Clause of Accompanying Circumstance:—
    10. ego haec ā Chrȳsogonō meā sponte, remōtō Sex. Rōsciō, quaerō (Rosc. Am. 130), of my own accord, without reference to Sextus Roscius (Sextus Roscius being put aside), I ask these questions of Chrysogonus.

      nec imperante nec sciente nec praesente dominō(Mil. 29), without their master's giving orders, or knowing it, or being present.

    Note— As the English Nominative Absolute is far less common than the Ablative Absolute in Latin, a change of form is generally required in translation. Thus the present participle is oftenest to be rendered in English by a relative clause with when or while; and the perfect passive participle by the perfect active participle. These changes may be seen in the following example:—

    At illī, intermissō spatiō, imprūdentibus nostrīs atque occupātīs in >mūnītiōne castrōrum, subitō sē ex silvīs ēiēcērunt;impetū que in eōs factō quī erant in statiōne prō castrīs conlocātī, ācriter pūgnāvērunt; duābusque missīs subsidiō cohortibus ā Caesare, cum hae (perexiguō intermissō locī spatiō inter sē) cōnstitissent, novō genere pūgnae perterritīs nostrīs, per mediōs audācissimē perrūpērunt sēque inde incolumīs recēpērunt .— CAESAR, B. G. 5.15.

    But they, having paused a space, while our men were unaware and busied in fortifying the camp, suddenly threw themselves out of the woods; then, making an attack upon those who were on guard in front of the camp, they fought fiercely; and, though two cohorts had been sent by Cæsar as reinforcements, after these had taken their position (leaving very little space of ground between them), as our men were alarmed by the strange kind of fighting, they dashed most daringly through the midst of them and got off safe.

    For the Ablative with Prepositions, see § 220.


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