Is perfect participle, in spite of the general notion, used both as perfect passive participle and perfect active participle?

Spinoza, Ethics, De Dei, Propositio 15, Scholium:

nam omnes qui naturam divinam aliquo modo contemplati sunt, negant Deum esse corporeum

White translates it:

for all men who have in any way looked into the divine nature deny that God is corporeal

1 Answer 1


This is a deponent verb. Both the normal contemplare and the deponent contemplari exist and mean roughly the same thing. I have the impression that the deponent one is more common, but the details surely depend on the era and author. The deponent verb has passive forms but active meaning, and therefore the passive perfect participle has active meaning too. The active counterpart of contemplati sunt would be contemplaverunt.

  • How can I know that a verb is deponent or not?
    – Ali Nikzad
    Aug 9, 2019 at 7:33
  • @AliNikzad Actually, that'd make a nice new question: By looking at a dictionary entry, how do I know when a verb is deponent?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 9, 2019 at 7:38

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