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ab ore

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ab ore

Postby phil » Tue Oct 14, 2003 8:24 pm

I'm not sure about this from Wheelock:
'Tantalus sitiens flumina ab ore fugientia tangere desiderabat.'

I'm assuming it means: 'Tantalus, being thirsty, desired to touch the rushing river by his mouth.' or Because Tantalus was thirsty, he wanted to drink from the rushing river. I'm not sure what the 'ab' of 'ab ore' is doing there. Wouldn't just 'ore' by itself be correct? Unless it's ablative of agent, in which case can a mouth be an agent? I thought only whole people could be agents, not just bits of them.
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Postby benissimus » Tue Oct 14, 2003 9:13 pm

Don't forget that ab is a preposition as well as a signifier of agent. There is also no passive in this sentence for there to be an accompanying agent. Your translation is almost accurate, but change the "but" to a "from".

'Tantalus, being thirsty, desired to touch the river rushing from his mouth.'

As for why it is not an ablative, I believe you are talking about the ablative of separation? In that case, it is mostly used to indicate distance and not actual movement, whereas ex and ab do.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby phil » Tue Oct 14, 2003 9:36 pm

By suggesting 'ore' by itself, I was meaning ablative of means, i.e. he wanted to touch it with/by using his mouth.

A river rushing from one's mouth, now there's an unpleasant thought!
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Postby Magistra » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:29 am

Hmmmm.... It doesn't make sense to me that he would want to touch a river rushing "from" his mouth. He would basically have to, right? I'd like to read the source, but "by" (not means, but some kind of location) seems to make sense with the myth. Tantalus wanted to drink, but couldn't.

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Postby benissimus » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:53 am

Yes, it does seem rather odd. Perhaps the Latin idea of "touch" is different from ours. This is also a simplified passage no doubt... and Wheelock isn't always great about generating sentences that make sense. :?
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Postby Moerus » Wed Oct 15, 2003 4:22 am

'Tantalus sitiens flumina ab ore fugientia tangere desiderabat.'

'Tantalus, being thirsty, desired to touch the flows fleeing away from his mouth'

Tantalus did something wrong. We don' t know what exactly, there are several versions of the same storry. But the gods were very angry at him and so they punished him. One of the punishments was that he had to stand in a pool, which drains away, every time he wants to drink from it. He had also fruit dangling before his eyes which are whisked away as soon as he reaches for them. That's the most cummon version of the storry. So, I think now you will al understand the 'ab ore fugientia'.

Greetz,

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Postby klewlis » Wed Oct 15, 2003 5:34 pm

I assume, then, that this is where we get the word "tantalize"?
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Postby phil » Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:40 pm

Ah, thanks, Moerus. I didn't know that story. But with a bit of context, now the sentence makes perfect sense.
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Postby Moerus » Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:16 pm

@ Klewlis: yes that's why we use 'tantalize', indeed!

@Phil: YOu are welcome. I'm glad I was helpful to you.

Greetz,

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Postby benissimus » Thu Oct 16, 2003 1:28 am

Ok I see... so it is flowing away from his mouth and not out of it.
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