[*] 419. A noun or pronoun, with a participle in agreement, may be put in the Ablative to define the time or circumstances of an action. This construction is called the Ablative Absolute:—1
- “Caesar, acceptīs litterīs, nūntium mittit ” (B. G. 5.46) , having received the letter, Cæsar sends a messenger (the letter having been received).
- “quibus rēbus cōgnitīs Caesar apud mīlitēs cōntiōnātur ” (B. C. 1.7) , having learned this, Cæsar makes a speech to the soldiers.
- “ fugātō omnī equitātū ” (B. G. 7.68) , all the cavalry being put to flight.
- interfectō Indūtiomārō (id. 6.2), upon the death of Indutiomarus.
- nōndum hieme cōnfectā in fīnīs Nerviōrum contendit (id. 6.3), though the winter was not yet over, he hastened into the territory of the Nervii.
- “compressī [sunt] cōnātūs nūllō tumultū pūblicē concitātō ” (Cat. 1.11) , the attempts were put down without exciting any general alarm.
- nē vōbīs quidem omnibus rē etiam tum probātā (id. 2.4), since at that time the facts were not yet proved even to all of you.
[*] Note.--The ablative absolute is an adverbial modifier of the predicate. It is, however, not grammatically dependent on any word in the sentence: hence its name absolute ( absolūtus , i.e. free or unconnected). A substantive in the ablative absolute very seldom denotes a person or thing elsewhere mentioned in the same clause.[*] a. An adjective, or a second noun, may take the place of the participle in the Ablative Absolute construction:—2
- “exiguā parte aestātis reliquā ” (B. G. 4.20) , when but a small part of the summer was left (a small part of the summer remaining).
- L. Domitiō Ap. Claudiō cōnsulibus (id. 5.1), in the consulship of Lucius Domitius and Appius Claudius (Lucius Domitius and Appius Claudius [being] consuls). [The regular way of expressing a date, see § 424. g.]
- “nīl dēspērandum Teucrō duce et auspice Teucrō ” (Hor. Od. 1.7.27) , there should be no despair under Teucer's leadership and auspices (Teucer being leader, etc.).
- “ incertō quid peterent ” (Liv. 28.36) , as it was uncertain what they should aim at (it being uncertain, etc.).
- “ compertō vānum esse formīdinem ” (Tac. Ann. 1.66) , when it was found that the alarm was groundless.
- “cūr praetereātur dēmōnstrātō ” (Inv. 2.34) , when the reason for omitting it has been explained (why it is passed by being explained).
[*] Note.--This construction is very rare except in later Latin.[*] c. A participle or an adjective is sometimes used adverbially in the ablative absolute without a substantive:—
- “ cōnsultō ” (Off. 1.27) , on purpose (the matter having been deliberated on).
- “mihi optātō vēneris ” (Att. 13.28.3) , you will come in accordance with my wish.
- “ serēnō ” (Liv. 31.12) , under a clear sky (it [being] clear).
- nec auspicātō nec lītātō (id. 5.38), with no auspices or favorable sacrifice.
- “ tranquillō, ut âiunt, quīlibet gubernātor est ” (Sen. Ep. 85.34) , in good weather, as they say, any man's a pilot.