Latin for beginners (1911)/Part III/Lesson LXVII

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379. Learn the principal parts and conjugation of volō, wish; nōlō (ne + volō), be unwilling; mālō (magis + volō), be more willing, prefer (§ 497). Note the irregularities in the present indicative, subjunctive, and infinitive, and in the imperfect subjunctive. (Cf. § 354.)

a. These verbs are usually followed by the infinitive with or without a subject accusative; as, volunt venīre, they wish to come; volunt amīcōs venīre, they wish their friends to come. The English usage is the same.[1]

380. Observe the following sentences:

  1. Magistrō laudante omnēs puerī dīligenter labōrant, with the teacher praising, or since the teacher praises, or the teacher praising, all the boys labor diligently. 2. Caesare dūcente nēmō prōgredī timet, with Cæsar leading, or when Cæsar leads, or if Cæsar leads, or Cæsar leading, no one fears to advance.

3. His rēbus cognitīs mīlitēs fūgērunt, when this was known, or since this was known, or these things having been learned, the soldiers fled.

4. Proeliō commissō multī vulnerātī sunt, after the battle had begun, or when the battle had begun, or the battle having been joined, many were wounded.

a. One of the fundamental ablative relations is expressed in English by the preposition with (cf. § 50). In each of the sentences above we have a noun and a participle in agreement in the ablative, and the translation shows that in each instance the ablative expresses attendant circumstance. For example, in the first sentence the circumstance attending or accompanying the diligent labor of the boys is the praise of the teacher. This is clearly a with relation, and the ablative is the case to use.

b. We observe, further, that the ablative and its participle are absolutely independent grammatically of the rest of the sentence. If we were to express the thought in English in a similar way, we should use the nominative independent or absolute. In Latin the construction is called the Ablative Absolute, or the Ablative with a Participle. This form of expression is exceedingly common in Latin, but rather rare in English, so we must not, as a rule, employ the English absolute construction to translate the ablative abolute. The attendant circumstance may be one of time (when or after), or one of cause (since), or one of concession (though), or one of condition (if). In each case try to discover the precise relation, and tranlate the ablative and its participle by a clause which will best express the thought.

381. Rule. Ablative Absolute. The ablative of a noun or pronoun with a present or perfect participle in agreement is used to express attendant circumstance.

Note 1. The verb sum has no present participle. In consequence we often find two nouns or a noun and an adjective in the ablative absolute with no participle expressed; as, tē duce, you (being) leader, with you as leader; patre īnfirmō, my father (being) weak.

Note 2. Be very careful not to put in the ablative absolute a noun and participle that form the subject or object of a sentence. Compare

a. The Gauls, having been conquered by Cæsar, returned home

b. The Gauls having been conquered by Cæsar, the army returned home

In 'a the subject is The Gauls having been conquered by Cæsar, and we translate,

Gallī ā Caesare victi domum revertērunt

In b the subject is the army. The Gauls having been conquered by Cæsar is nominative absolute in English, which requires the ablative absolute in Latin, and we translate,

Gallīs ā Caesare victīs exercitus domum revertit

Note 3. The fact that only deponent verbs have a perfect active participle (cf. § 375. a) often compels a change of voice when translating from one language to the other. For example, we can translate Cæsar having encouraged the legions just as it stands, because hortor is a deponent verb. But if we wish to say Cæsar having conquered the Gauls, we have to change the voice of the participle to the passive because vincō is not deponent, and say, the Gauls having been conquered by Cæsar (see translation above).



  1. Māvīs, nōn vīs, vultis, nōlumus. 2. Ut nōlit, ut vellēmus, ut mālit.
  2. Nōlī, velle, nōluisse, mālle.
  3. Vult, māvultis, ut nōllet, nōlīte.
  4. Sōle oriente, avēs cantāre incēpērunt.
  5. Clāmōribus audītīs, barbarī prōgredī recūsābant.
  6. Caesare legiōnēs hortātō, mīlitēs paulō fortius pugnāvērunt.
  7. Hīs rēbus cognitīs, Helvētiī fīnitimīs persuāsērunt ut sēcum iter facerent.
  8. Labōribus cōnfectīs, mīlitēs ā Caesare quaerēbant ut sibi praemia daret.
  9. Conciliō convocātō, prīncipēs ita respondērunt.
  10. Dux plūrīs diēs in Helvētiōrum fīnibus morāns multōs vīcōs incendit.
  11. Magnitūdine Germānōrum cognitā, quīdam ex Rōmānis timēbant.
  12. Mercātōribus rogātīs, Caesar nihilō plūs reperīre potuit.


  1. He was unwilling, lest they prefer, they have wished.
  2. You prefer, that they might be unwilling, they wish.
  3. We wish, they had preferred, that he may prefer.
  4. Cæsar, when he heard the rumor (the rumor having been heard), commanded (imperāre) the legions to advance more quickly.
  5. Since Cæsar was leader, the men were willing to make the journey.
  6. A few, terrified[2] by the reports which they had heard, preferred to remain at home.
  7. After these had been left behind, the rest hastened as quickly as possible.
  8. After Cæsar had undertaken the business (Cæsar, the business having been undertaken), he was unwilling to delay longer.[3]



  1. Sometimes the subjunctive of purpose is used after these verbs. (See § 366.)
  2. Would the ablative absolute be correct here?
  3. Not longius. Why?