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Exercise 261, Sentence II.4 ( error in key )

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:11 am
by Scarlatti
We are asked to translate the following sentence: "Caesar didn't make an attack on the cavalry on the right wing, did he?"

The key has this as "Num Caesar impetum equitatum a cornu dextro fecit."

This troubles me for several reasons. Firstly, I am sure this is not the translation that D'Ooge intended, because in the special vocabulary for this lesson, "impetus facere in" appears as "make an attack on," exactly as you see in the above English which is to be translated. Clearly, D'Ooge wants us to use "impetus facere in + accusative." But the key does not use it, or if it does, it leaves out the "in."

Instead the preposition "a/ab" is used. This makes no sense to me. Doesn't that mean, in context, "away from the right wing (of the army)?"

I would just like the experts here to let me know if I'm right, or if I'm losing my mind. Shouldn't the Latin be something more like "Num Caesar impetum in equitatum in cornu dextro fecit?" Thanks!

Re: Exercise 261, Sentence II.4 ( error in key )

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:04 pm
by Carolus Raeticus
Salve Scarlatti!

This does not have to be an error in the key. Using Google to make a site-search of via "a cornu dextro" I found several instances of similar phrases. It seems that both in dextro cornu and a dextro cornu are valid.

Two samples from Caesar:
  • At totis fere castris a fronte et a sinistra parte nudatis, cum in dextro cornu legio XII. et non magno ab ea intervallo VII. constitisset, omnes Nervii confertissimo agmine duce Boduognato, qui summam imperii tenebat, ad eum locum contenderunt; quorum pars ab aperto latere legiones circumvenire, pars summum castrorum locum petere coepit. (Bellum Gallicum, 2.23)
  • Cum hostium acies a sinistro cornu pulsa atque in fugam coniecta esset, a dextro cornu vehementer multitudine suorum nostram aciem premebant. (Bellum Gallicum, 1.52)
There are even instances without any preposition.

I guess that this is an instance of that sense of "abs, a" which is listed in Lewis & Short's A Latin Dictionary as follows:
3. To denote the side or direction from which an object is viewed in its local relations,=a parte, at, on, in: utrum hacin feriam an ab laeva latus? Enn. ap. Plaut. Cist. 3, 10 (Trag. v. 38 Vahl.); cf.: “picus et cornix ab laeva, corvos, parra ab dextera consuadent,” Plaut. As. 2, 1, 12: clamore ab ea parte audito. on this side, Caes. B. G. 3, 26, 4: Gallia Celtica attingit ab Sequanis et Helvetiis flumen Rhenum, on the side of the Sequani, i. e. their country, id. ib. 1, 1, 5: “pleraque Alpium ab Italia sicut breviora ita arrectiora sunt,” on the Italian side, Liv. 21, 35, 11: “non eadem diligentia ab decumuna porta castra munita,” at the main entrance, Caes. B. G. 3, 25 fin.: “erat a septentrionibus collis,” on the north, id. ib. 7, 83, 2; so, ab oriente, a meridie, ab occasu; a fronte, a latere, a tergo, etc.
Personally, I find it rather difficult to relate to this use.

Has anyone an idea, whether there are clear rules when to use the preposition in or a, ab under these circumstances? I guess it depends on the viewpoint of the narrator.


Carolus Raeticus

Re: Exercise 261, Sentence II.4 ( error in key )

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:51 pm
by Scarlatti
Salve Carolus Rheticus!

Thank you. I wasn't sure about the use of the ablative being an error. My problem was more that D'Ooge wanted that sentence to be constructed using impetus facere in + accusative, since that was part of the lesson. And I doubt he had a rare use of the ablative in mind when he is just teaching the basics for clods like myself... However, I am just glad someone put up a key at all, so don't think I'm ungrateful!