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418. The Ablative of Specification denotes that in respect to which anything is or is done.

Virtūte praecēdunt. (B. G. 1.1)
They excel in courage.

claudus alterō pede (Nep. Ages. 8)
lame of one foot

linguā haesitantēs, vōce absonī (De Or. 1.115)
hesitating in speech, harsh in voice

Sunt enim hominēs nōn sed nōmine. (Off. 1.105)
For they are men not in fact, but in name.

mâior nātū

minor nātū

cf. § 131.c)

paulum aetāte prōgressī (Cat. M. 33)
somewhat advanced in age

Corpore senex esse poterit, animō numquam erit. (id. 38)
He may be an old man in body, he never will be [old] at heart.

a. To this head are to be referred many expressions where the ablative expresses that in accordance with which anything is or is done.

meō iūre
with perfect right


meō modō
in my fashion

meā sententiā
in my opinion

But also more formally, ex meā sententiā

[Here the sense is the same, but the first ablative is specification, the second source.]

propinquitāte coniūnctōs atque nātūrā (Lael. 50)
closely allied by kindred and nature

[Here the ablative is not different in sense from those above, but no doubt is a development of means.]

quī vincit vīribus (id. 55)
who surpasses in strength

[Here it is impossible to tell whether vīribus is the means of the superiority or that in respect to which one is superior.]

Note— As the Romans had no such categories as we make, it is impossible to classify all uses of the Ablative. The Ablative of Specification (originally instrumental) is closely akin to that of manner, and shows some resemblance to means and cause. For the supine in as an Ablative of Specification, see § 510.

b. The adjectives dīgnus and indīgnus take the ablative.

vir patre, avō, mâiōribus suīs dīgnissimus (Phil. 3.25)
a man most worthy of his father, grandfather, and ancestors

Tē omnī honōre indīgnissimum iūdicāvit. (Vat. 39)
He judged you entirely unworthy of every honor.

Note 1— So the verb dīgnor in poetry and later prose

Haud equidem tālī mē dīgnor honōre. (Aen. 1.335)
I do not deem myself worthy of such an honor.

Note 2— Dīgnus and indīgnus sometimes take the Genitive in colloquial usage and in poetry.

cūram dīgnissimam tuae virtūtis (Balbus in Att. 8.15)
care most worthy of your noble character

dīgnus salūtis (Plaut. Trin. 1153)
worthy of safety

māgnōrum haud umquam indīgnus avōrum (Aen. 12.649)
never unworthy of my great ancestors.

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.