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What is an ablative absolute?

Latin has a major flaw compared to English: it doesn't like having two 'main verbs' in the same sentence/clause if it can be avoided. Therefore, you have to put one of the verbs into participle form. So you couldn't say "John prepared dinner, and slept", but "having prepared dinner, John slept."

Here is where another Latin flaw kicks in: normal past participles can only be passive. You can't say "having prepared" (active), but only "having been prepared" (passive).

To get around this problem, Latin squashes the ablative to (sort of) make the phrase make sense. Instead of  "Having prepared dinner, John slept", we have to say "with the dinner having been prepared [all ablative], John slept."

e.g cena parata, John dormivit.

Catherine B. A Level Classical Civilisation tutor, A Level Classical ...

1 year ago

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