....plus, a specific question, which I'll start with first.
What is the use of the ablative in this sentence?
Italiae incolae prīmī Aborīginēs fuērunt, quōrum rēx Sāturnus tantā iūstitiā fuisse dicitur ur nec servīret quisquam sub illō nec quidquam suum proprium habēret, sed omnia commūnia omnibus essent.
I'm reading through Lingua Latina as a way to brush up on my Latin after a four year hiatus, and I'm breezing through it, having studied Latin for several years and going to grad school for it. However, I often find myself unable to identify the grammatical constructions involved, yet I know exactly what things mean. Clearly the relative clause above means "whose king Saturnus is said to have been so just that..." or, more literally, "...is said to have been with such great justice..." (which sounds ridiculous). The funny thing is that, as I read, I didn't parse the grammar; my first reading was the way I first translated it here, and then I had to go back and try unpacking the grammar to make sure I "really" understood it.
The sad thing is, that's the way Latin is taught. You don't officially understand something unless you can explicate all the grammatical nuances of the text, which seems like a slow and inefficient way to develop reading comprehension. On the other hand, having been taught Latin that way, I can't with confidence say that it isn't actually useful--perhaps I've climbed the ladder and can now throw it away.
What do you think? Do I really need to be able to ID grammatical constructions?