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Ablative of Means, chapter 2?

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Ablative of Means, chapter 2?

Postby elrond32 » Mon Mar 21, 2005 4:27 pm

Hi all,
I recently began a review of Wheelock's Latin and had a question about one of the sentences in chapter two. Sentence number 14 reads, "Me saevis catenis onerat." I translated this two different ways: "He loads me with heavy chains," and, "He oppresses me by means of heavy chains." Both translations preserve the Ablative of Means construction (saevis catenis), right?
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Postby elrond32 » Mon Mar 21, 2005 4:51 pm

Sorry, I meant to write, "cruel chains." :roll: I see in the answer key it reads "it oppresses me with cruel chains." This translation makes perfect sense, but without any context, how do we translate the implied pronoun correctly? If, for example, Fate, or some other abstract entity is doing the oppressing, "it" would be the logical choice for the English translation. Without a context to provide the proper subject, however, it seems to me that either translation would work. Am I way off base here? Thanks for any clarification you can provide.
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Postby Turpissimus » Mon Mar 21, 2005 5:28 pm

Sorry, I meant to write, "cruel chains." Rolling Eyes I see in the answer key it reads "it oppresses me with cruel chains." This translation makes perfect sense, but without any context, how do we translate the implied pronoun correctly? If, for example, Fate, or some other abstract entity is doing the oppressing, "it" would be the logical choice for the English translation. Without a context to provide the proper subject, however, it seems to me that either translation would work. Am I way off base here? Thanks for any clarification you can provide.


Well, when you read actual Latin you won't be doing so in the strange context free vacuum from which the introductory exercises in your textbook spring. It is a problem, but it applies really to those stupid sentences and less to real Latin.

You just have to take a good guess, I suppose.
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Re: Ablative of Means, chapter 2?

Postby benissimus » Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:01 pm

elrond32 wrote:Hi all,
I recently began a review of Wheelock's Latin and had a question about one of the sentences in chapter two. Sentence number 14 reads, "Me saevis catenis onerat." I translated this two different ways: "He loads me with heavy chains," and, "He oppresses me by means of heavy chains." Both translations preserve the Ablative of Means construction (saevis catenis), right?

Both these translations are correct (provided saevis catenis is translated "cruel chains"). This is probably more appropriately characterized as ablative of instrument, but the distinction between instrument and means is not very important in my opinion. "with" or "by (means of)" are both good, but ablative of instrument is usually translated by "with", and it does come out as better English if you do that here. onerat literally means "loads/burdens"; "oppresses" lacks the same imagery but still gets the figurative meaning across.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby elrond32 » Tue Mar 22, 2005 3:10 am

Thank you Turpissimus and Benissimus. It's been a while (a long while) since I studied Latin, and I've decided to go back and start from scratch. Maybe this time I will learn all of those grammatical rules and constructions that I only superficially understood (at best) the first time around. I was rather surprised that Wheelock would introduce a grammatical construct like ablative of means/instrument in the 2nd chapter when the text doesn't actually get around to discussing the ablative of means until chapter 14. Of course, I was just happy that I recognized it at all! :) On the other hand, the use of actual Latin texts (even if they are edited somewhat) is one of the things that I really appreciate about Wheelock.
Turpissimus, I agree with you: Sentences without context are frustrating. I'm sure, though, that when I gain enough proficiency to read unadulterated Latin this will cease to be an issue.
Benissimus, could you please further explain the difference between ablative of means and ablative of agent? Is it a matter of subtle nuance, or am I just failing to understand a point of grammar? Thanks for your help.
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Postby elrond32 » Tue Mar 22, 2005 3:11 am

Sorry Benissimus, I meant "ablative of instrument" instead of "ablative of agent."
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