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Participles: which case do I use?

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Participles: which case do I use?

Postby Yvonne » Thu Apr 22, 2004 6:13 pm

I can't figure out when to make a participle agree with the sujbect, the object or when to make the whole thing an ablative absolute. I'm going through N&H's composition book, and the solutions seem random. For example, I know that when the participial phrase shares neither subject nor object with the main clause, then I use the ablative absolute, but N&H used it when the clauses do share a subject (D below).

A. (example 2.1) He took him and slew him. Captum eum interfecit.
B. (exercise 28.7) The enemy took the messenger and killed him. Captum nuntium hostes interfecerunt.
C. (exercise 29.7) He exhorted his soldiers and led them out. Hortatus milites eduxit.
D. (exercise 30.) ...we left the camp and advanced against the enemy. ...castris relictis in hostes progressi sumus.


In all of these cases we start with two verbs being joined by “and” and the subject is the same for both verbs. N&H says that to translate these into Latin, we must put one of the verbs into a participial form. But I can’t understand the rules govenering when to match the case of the participle with the object (A,B), the subject (C) or make the thing an ablative absolute (D).

What difference between these sentences accounts for the different translations?

Thanks.

- Yvonne
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Apr 22, 2004 7:52 pm

You might want to refer to the D'Ooge book regarding participles.

The key about these is that the perfect passive (or active in the case of the deponents) participle depicts an action done prior to that of the main verb; or, as Henry Carr Pearson states, it represents an action completed at the time indicated by the main verb. Thus many subordinate clauses may be rendered in English translation depending on the mood of the sentence. Time (after...), Cause (Since...), Concession (Although...) etc. may be the message. I personally dislike this in reading, because, if you are not in the same frame of mind as the author you might mistake the meaning.

The participle being a verbal adjective govern case therefore as below you see it as a modifier of the object.

"Captum eum interfecit" - "captum", lit. "having been captured" is the adjective modifying technically the object. However in English translation "He took him and slew him" the participle seems to affect the subject. This "and" is necessary since the participle here is perfect
therefore the action of the guy being captured has been completed before the killing. The "captum" is grammatically a part of this sentence, evidently, modifying "eum". The Ablative Absolute (D) is the participle with a noun showing no connection whatsoever grammatically to the rest of the sentence. It just shows a circumstance which has been reached in which other things may be done. Put this simple sentence into the ablative absolute "Capto eo interfecit" I would read this "Having captured that guy, he killed him". Here the "capto eo" has no relation grammatically with the "interfecit." Also here "eum" is understood, as it would be clumsy to repeat a form of 'is' twice in my opinion. "Capto eo eum interfecit" Shows that you still whether expressed or understood need the technical object of the sentence, because "capto eo" is ablative. In this way you can use the perfect passive participle + noun in the ablative as the wanting perfect active participle. ("Having captured him he killed him" as opposed to the object "Captum eum interfecit" - He killed the man who had been captured, we assume captured by the same guy who killed the subject.)

Compare:

se sub quercu refectis iter perrexere

After they had refreshed themselves under the oak tree they continued on their path.

More in the sense of "with themselves having been refreshed" - a doing for them necessary for continuation of the journey. Attendant circumstance. The ablative described means in a way here.

se sub quercu refecti iter perrexere

They refreshed themselves and continued their journey.

Owing to the "refecti" being perfect, this happened before they continued their journey.

se sub quercu refectis ingentem non poterant silvam praeterire

People who do not know Latin never realise that context is so important.
This sentence tells me the some monsters have been refreshing themselves under oak trees and now in this attendant circumstance the men "non poterant" pass the forest (Perhaps causal "since the monsters..."). Or one could render this "Although the men had rested under an oak tree they still could not pass the vast forest". Or better still "Having rested under the oak tree (nimium diu, perhaps) they lost the opportunity to pass the forest". "Though they had rested in the oak tree they woke up [still] in the situation wherein they could not pass the forest". So many possibilities for me anyway. Some which for me seem to overlap the perfect participle, but if you have the Latin "Sprachgefuhl" like Steven you will know.

se sub quercu refecti ingentem non poterant silvam praeterire

"They refreshed themselves under an oak tree and woke up being unable to pass the forest".

This is where it ends: I have a headache. If you have an instinct you'll discern well the difference. Good luck
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Postby Yvonne » Fri Apr 23, 2004 4:26 pm

Thanks for all the useful translating information. Most of it is beyond me at this point, but I'll go back to it when I get there.

I think the answer to my question was much simpler, however. I got it after posting here, of course. (I usually have to admit my ignorance in a public forum before my brain shows me the answer. Go figure. :? )

My problem was was I was forgetting that some participles are active and others passive. The ppp is going to agree with the object (when translating from an English clause.) The present participle is going to agree with the subject. And the ppp's for deponent verbs are going to act like active participles and agree with the subject.

Is this correct?

-Yvonne
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Postby MickeyV » Sat Apr 24, 2004 9:50 pm

Yvonne, unless I misunderstand you, I would think that you're still not entirely correct. In one thing you are, however: the answer to your question is, indeed, quite simple, however much Episcopus' lenghty dissertation concerning the object of your question might lead one to suspect otherwise. 8)

Regardless, you're correct in discerning two types of participles: active and passive voice. Sometimes (for example with the verb: induere) the passive participle has a reflexive meaning, in which case it resembles the (Greek) middle voice. Yet, we may discard this for now, I think.

However, there is, unlike you -if I read your words correctly- suppose, no relation between the voice of the participle and the case of the noun with which it agrees. In fact, any participle, be it active (praesens/futurum) or passive (ppp, and gerundive) may congrue with a noun, which noun may be the subject, the direct object, the indirect object, but it may stand in the genitive and ablative [which, in that case, needn't be an ablative absolute] as well!

The choice between an ablative absolute and a participle in agreement (not being an a.a.)depends on two factors, which, being both the case, decide the matter in favour of the non-a.a. participle. The first: the noun, whereupon the participle bears, is already present in the sentence. The second however: the participle needed must be one of three, namely: a. praesens active (eg: vocans), b. futurum active (eg: vocaturus), c. perfect passive (eg: vocatus). If a different participle is needed, such as a perfect ACTIVE, then we must note, that Latin lacks this participle (except for deponents). In that case, the a.a. may fill this syntactical gap.

To make it more clear, regard your sentence D -> ...we left the camp and advanced against the enemy. ...castris relictis in hostes progressi sumus.

As you see: "we left the camp" would require a perfect ACTIVE participle, yet "relinquere", not being a deponent verb, lacks it. Therefore, although there is a subject with which the participle might agree, it is lacking in the needed form. The a.a. forms a substitute. (strictly, "castris relictis in hostes progressi sumus" means: "the camp having been left, etc." That the act of leaving is performed by, in this case, the subject, is merely a convenient inference). If however the English would be: "when we were about to leave the camp, the enemy advanced against us" we would get "hostes in nos castra [object of participle] relicturos progressi sunt".

Clear? :)
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Postby MickeyV » Sat Apr 24, 2004 9:52 pm

I suppose my own reply isn't the best example of brevity either. :D
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Postby Episcopus » Sun Apr 25, 2004 4:01 pm

The differences are subtle but important! And I did mention the deponent matter :lol:
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Postby benissimus » Mon Apr 26, 2004 2:20 am

Basically...

The past participle agrees with the subject if the verb is deponent - the subject being the one who does the action; the object, if present, is the thing that has been done. Or the past participle agrees with the object if the verb is deponent - the object being the one who does the participial verb's action, and receives the main verb's action.

The past participle agrees with the object if the verb is not deponent - the subject being the one who does the action; the object being recipient of both the participial verb and the main verb. The past participle agrees with the subject if the subject is receiving the participial verb's action and the object receives the main verb's action.

You often use an ablative absolute when you are in need of an active perfect participle, but it is lacking in non-deponents -
e.g. - "Having captured the town, the soldiers were wearied" - the only way you can translate this with participles is by substituting the "Having captured" with a passive ablative absolute...
Urbe capta, milites defessi erant, but not Capti urbem milites defessi erant as one might be accustomed to with verbs like aggredi.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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