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Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

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Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby vir litterarum » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:31 pm

ceterum Tiberius per omnis valetudinis eius[Drusus'] dies, nullo metu an ut firmitudinem animi ostentaret, etiam defuncto necdum sepulto, curiam ingressus est.
Tac. Annales 4.8

Can anyone give me some sort of grammatical reference to this usage of an ablative absolute where the noun or pronoun must be supplied from context? It seems very irregular to me; A&G cite specific instances in which this can occur, none of which seem applicable here.
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby adrianus » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:05 pm

An ablative absolute as a temporal clause (A&G, §420) or (§419c) adverbially without substantive: "even when he was dead but not [yet] buried"?
Nonnè est ablativum absolutum ut clausula temporalis vel forma modo adverbi sine substantivo ?
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: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby vir litterarum » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:40 pm

I agree that it is temporal, but it seems to me that equating it to an abl. of manner here is a stretch: all of the examples in 419c are either impersonal or referring to objects, not people.
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby adrianus » Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:03 am

Salve vir litterarum
vir litterarum wrote:...but it seems to me that equating it to an abl. of manner here is a stretch...

Is Ablative of Manner the same as Ablative Absolute? Also, I hear "[eo] defuncto" but "eo" is unnecessary from the context, for "with him dead but not buried [i.e., while he was...] ". (Merely proposing what I think, of course, which might be wrong.)
Absolutum Ablativum, similene Actionis Ablativo est? Etiam, "eo defuncto" lego, quià de contextu pronomen intellegas. (Quod puto propono; falsum sit, certé fateor.)
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: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby vir litterarum » Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:48 am

You're right that it seems that "eo" must be understood from context, but I have not seen this occur before where the nominal element of an ablative absolute must be understood from context, nor have I seen instances cited in Latin grammars, except those such as you referenced in A&G which seem qualitatively different to me.
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby Iulia » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:26 am

Wouldn't it perhaps be easiest to construe "defuncto" as a substantive adjective being used as a noun, to mean "the one having died"? (A&G 288) It seems to me an adjective used substantively in an Ablative Absolute is quite common -- "paucis interfectis" from Caesar springs readily to mind: "a few [i.e., men/soldiers] having been killed."
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby vir litterarum » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:32 am

This is possible, but all of the commentaries and translations I have seen take it as an abl. abs., e.g.


http://books.google.com/books?id=OsfsA4 ... kATp94TBDQ
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby Iulia » Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:25 pm

Mihi dolet -- sorry if my note was unclear. Yes, it is definitely an Ablative Absolute. But (correct me if I am wrong) you were asking if a noun/pronoun should be supplied from context, and I am suggesting that "defuncto," though a participial adjective, is functioning as the noun here so there is no need to go further.
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby vir litterarum » Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:57 pm

right, so you're translating it, "also with dead body not even buried"? however, you're taking "necdum" as an adverb, whereas this commentary and the Loeb take it as equaling "et nondum," i.e. "even with [Drusus] dead and not yet buried."
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby Iulia » Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:25 pm

No, as defuncto is the perfect passive participle from defungor, a deponent verb, and sepulto a perfect passive participle from sepelio, I would translate the phrase literally as:

"with the one [i.e., the man we've been talking about here = Drusus"] having died and not yet having been buried."

However, that would be the literal translation -- your less literal translation "even with [Drusus] dead and not yet buried" above is fine. There is always a trade-off between the literal translation, which clarifies the Latin, and a less literal/more elegant translation which sounds better to our ears and perhaps clarifies the meaning a bit better.
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Re: Ablative absolute without a noun or pronoun

Postby vir litterarum » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:40 pm

Julia wrote
I am suggesting that "defuncto," though a participial adjective, is functioning as the noun here so there is no need to go further.


If it were functioning as a substantive, it would need to be translated with "with the dead body not even buried," not "with the one having died and not yet having been buried"; you're translating it as a participle modifying an understood pronoun "one" even though you're saying it is functioning as a noun. "Defuncto" either must mean "a dead body," or "having been buried," but in the latter translation it is functioning as a participle, not a noun.
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