MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

452 views

What are ablative absolutes and how are they best translated?

Ablative absolutes are a very common construction in Latin prose and verse, and a normally formed by a noun (or pronoun) together with a participle in the ablative case.

They are grammatically free from the rest of the sentence, acting as a subordinate clause.

This means they cannot refer to anything that comes later in the sentence, e.g.:

Caesare necato, mox deus factus est. With Caesar having been killed, he soon became a god.

– This is grammatically incorrect – remembering this will make unseen translations much easier.

Here are the three types of ablative absolute that you will encounter at GCSE level:

With a Perfect Passive Participle

his verbis dictis, Caesar discessit. With these words having been said, Caesar departed.

With a Present Participle

leone adveniente, agni fugerunt. With the lion approaching, the sheep fled.

Without a Participle

Scipione duce vincemus. With Scipio as leader, we shall conquer.

Although a very literal translation has been given above in order to provide the first stage of understanding ablative absolutes, markers will prefer a more natural/idiomatic translation.

The best way to translate these phrases is with ‘when’:

his verbis dictis, Caesar discedit. When these words had been said, Caesar departed.

leone adveniente, agni fugerunt. When the lion was approaching, the sheep fled.

Scipione duce vincemus. We shall conquer when Scipio is leader.

Robert Tominey T.

11 months ago

Answered by Robert , a GCSE Latin tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

30 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£18 /hr

Maria P.

Degree: Classics (Masters) - Edinburgh University

Subjects offered:Latin, History+ 5 more

Latin
History
French
English Literature
English Language
Classical Greek

“INTRODUCTION A self-motivated and conscientious multilingual Classics student at the University of Edinburgh, with a passion for the Arts and Humanities.  EXAMINATION BOARDS AND SUBJECTS TAUGHT I can assist pupils studying the follow...”

£20 /hr

Upasana T.

Degree: Medicine (Bachelors) - Birmingham University

Subjects offered:Latin, Maths+ 1 more

Latin
Maths
Biology

“About me: Hi, my name is Upasana Topiwala and I am currently in my third year of medical school at the university of Birmingham. I've taken up tutoring in order to inspire my students to appreciate the importance of science in our liv...”

£18 /hr

Holly C.

Degree: Classics (Bachelors) - Cambridge University

Subjects offered:Latin, English Literature+ 3 more

Latin
English Literature
-Personal Statements-
-Oxbridge Preparation-

“Friendly and engaging; flexible tutorials; clear explanations, tailored to the right level for the student.”

About the author

Robert Tominey T.

Robert T.

Currently unavailable: for new students

Degree: Classics (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered:Latin, Classical Civilisation+ 1 more

Latin
Classical Civilisation
-Personal Statements-

“About Me I am a Classics student at Durham University, and I absolutely love talking to people aboutLatin and Classics in general - I hope you leave our sessions feeling just as passionate as I do! With plenty of experience tutor...”

You may also like...

Other GCSE Latin questions

What is a gerund?

What is an ablative absolute, and how do I translate one?

How do you translate the pluperfect tense?

What is the ablative absolute and how do you use it?

View GCSE Latin tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok