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Cum + Pluperfect Subjunctive vs. Ablative Absolute

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Cum + Pluperfect Subjunctive vs. Ablative Absolute

Postby whsiv » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:02 pm

Salvete omnes,

I'm struggling to find a difference (if any) between the two constructions I mention in the Subject of this post, namely the use of cum + the pluperfect subjunctive and ablative absolute.

I am just starting my first foray into Bradley's Arnold Latin Prose Composition (cross your digitos for me) and I'm concerned about some of my translations.

Are the following two Latin sentences equal to each other? Are there any shades of difference that I'm not catching on to?

Exercise 1.10: "Having heard this, he halted for three hours, but at mid-day began his march again."

a) Cum hoc audivisset, tres horas constitit, meridie vero iter facere rursus coepit.
b) Hoc audito, tres horas constitit, meridie vero iter facere rursus coepit.

The text says that these two constructions make up for the lack of a past active participle in Latin, but I am wondering if they can be used interchangeably.

Thanks!
whsiv
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Re: Cum + Pluperfect Subjunctive vs. Ablative Absolute

Postby adrianus » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:46 am

One has an active sense, one a passive sense, but both describe the circumstances so either is good:
Una clausula activam per vocem exprimitur; altera passivam; utra circumstantiam; ergo apta utra:
"When he [had] heard this" et "[With] this having been heard".
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Cum + Pluperfect Subjunctive vs. Ablative Absolute

Postby whsiv » Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:52 pm

Thanks for the reply.

So cum + plupf. subjv. allows for a grammatical link to the rest of the Latin sentence, whereas a key feature of the ablative absolute is that it has no such connection. In polished English translations, though, we'll express a grammatical link between the dependent and the independent clause - no matter what the Latin construction is.

For translation purposes into English, both constructions will get us to the same place, right? If we're aiming for idiomatic English, the "With this having been heard..." of an ablative absolute doesn't sound so nice, and would probably (if the context is right) sound better as "After/When he heard this..."
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Re: Cum + Pluperfect Subjunctive vs. Ablative Absolute

Postby adrianus » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:48 pm

whsiv wrote:For translation purposes into English, both constructions will get us to the same place, right?
Yes // Sic
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Cum + Pluperfect Subjunctive vs. Ablative Absolute

Postby MiguelM » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:34 pm

It's a rhetorical skill. The ablative absolute, as I am sure you can gather by yourself, is a much quicker construction than the cum historicum (as it is often called). It hastens the narrative. It's not always easy or even possible to get that into the translation, but there is a discerneable difference.
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Re: Cum + Pluperfect Subjunctive vs. Ablative Absolute

Postby whsiv » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:41 pm

MiguelM,

That the ablative absolute provides a hastening of the narrative is an interesting point, and one I have admittedly never thought of. Thanks for your insight!
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