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

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440. Review the word lists in §§ 524, 525.

441. Observe the English sentences

(1) A man of great courage, or (2) A man with great courage

(3) A forest of tall trees, or (4) A forest with tall trees

Each of these sentences contains a phrase of quality or description. In the first two a man is described; in the last two a forest. The descriptive phrases are introduced by the prepositions of and with. In Latin the expression of quality or description is very similar. The prepositions of and with suggest the genitive and the ablative respectively, and we translate the sentences above

(1) Vir magnae virtūtis, or (2) Vir magnā virtūte

(3) Silva altārum arborum, or (4) Silva altīs arboribus

There is, however, one important difference between the Latin and the English. In English we may say, for example, a man of courage, using the descriptive phrase without an adjective modifier. In Latin, however, an adjective modifier must always be used, as above.

a. Latin makes a distinction between the use of the two cases in that numerical descriptions of measure are in the genitive and descriptions of physical characteristics are in the ablative. Other descriptive phrases may be in either case.



  1. Fossa duodecim pedum, a ditch of twelve feet.

2. Homō magnīs pedibus et parvō capite, a man with big feet and a small head.

3. Rēx erat vir summā audāciā or rēx erat vir summae audāciae, the king was a man of the greatest boldness.

443. Rule. Genitive of Description. Numerical descriptions of measure are expressed by the genitive with a modifying adjective.

444. Rule. Ablative of Description. Descriptions of physical characteristics are expressed by the ablative with a modifying adjective.

445. Rule. Genitive or Ablative of Description. Descriptions involving neither numerical statements nor physical characteristics may be expressed by either the genitive or the ablative with a modifying adjective.



Helvētiīs in animō est, the Helvetii intend, (lit. it mind to the Helvetians)

in mātrimōnium dare, to give in marriage

nihil posse, to have no power

fossam perdūcere, to construct a ditch (lit. to lead a ditch through)




  1. Mīlitēs fossam decem pedum per eōrum fīnīs perdūxērunt.
  2. Prīnceps Helvētiōrum, vir summae audāciae, prīncipibus gentium fīnitimārum sorōrēs in mātrimōnium dedit.
  3. Eōrum amīcitiam cōnfīrmāre voluit quō facilius Rōmānīs bellum īnferret.
  4. Germanī et Gallī nōn erant eiusdem gentis.
  5. Omnēs ferē Germānī erant magnīs corporum vīribus.[1]
  6. Gallī qui oppidum fortiter dēfendēbant saxa ingentis magnitūdinis dē mūrō iaciēbant.
  7. Cum Caesar ab explōrātōribus quaereret quī illud oppidum incolerent, explōrātōrēs respondērunt eōs esse homines summā virtūte et magnō cōnsiliō.
  8. Moenia vīgintī pedum ā sinistrā parte, et ā dextrā parte flūmen magnae altitūdinis oppidum dēfendēbant.
  9. Cum Caesar in Galliam pervēnisset, erat rūmor Helvētiīs in animō esse iter per prōvinciam Rōmānam facere.
  10. Caesar, ut eōs ab fīnibus Rōmānis prohibēret, mūnītiōnem [2]multa mīlia passuum longam fēcit.


  1. Cæsar was a general of much wisdom and great boldness, and very skillful in the art of war.
  2. The Germans were of great size, and thought that the Romans had no power.
  3. Men of the highest courage were left in the camp as (for) a guard to the baggage.
  4. The king’s daughter, who was given in marriage to the chief of a neighboring state, was a woman of very beautiful appearance.
  5. The soldiers will construct a ditch of nine feet around the camp.
  6. A river of great width was between us and the enemy.
Latin for beginners (1911) 212.png




  1. From vīs. (Cf. § 468.)
  2. Genitives and ablatives of description are adjective phrases. When we use an adverbial phrase to tell how long or how high or how deep anything is, we must use the accusative of extent. (Cf. § 336.) For example, in the sentence above multa mīlia passuum is an adverbial phrase (accusative of extent) modifying longam. If we should omit longam and say a fortification of many miles, the genitive of description (an adjective phrase) modifying mūnītiōnem would be used, as mūnītiōnem multōrum mīlium passuum.