The intransitive verbs that typically enter into constructions with perfect participles of the so-called "dominant" type are deponent: e.g., ante Ciceronem mortuum, post Ciceronem natum, etc. The same generalization holds for Ablative Absolute constructions like Cicerone mortuo, Cicerone nato, etc. However, some non-deponent intransitive verbs can also be found in these constructions: e.g., ante solem occasum, sole occaso, etc.

Tum facito ante solem occasum ut venias advorsum mihi (Pl. Men. 437)

Quibus verbis ita videtur dierum observationem divisisse, ut qui post solem occasum ante mediam noctem natus sit, is ei dies natalis sit, a quo die ea nox coeperit (Aul. Gell. Noct. Att. 3.2.3)

quae horis sublata duabus // omnia sunt sole occaso (Lucil. Sat. 68-69).

Putting transitive verbs aside (e.g., cf. post urbem conditam, Barcinone condita, etc.), I was wondering which is the specific grammatical class of intransitive verbs that can enter into these participial constructions. Or to put it simply: why is it the case that a non-deponent intransitive verb like occidere can enter into an Ablative Absolute (sole occaso) and into a dominant (perfect) participle construction (ante solem occasum), but an equally non-deponent intransitive verb like advenire can't? E.g, cf. the ill-formedness of die advento and ante diem adventum.

NB: As for Romance languages it seems to be the case that those intransitive verbs that can typically enter into absolute participle constructions are the so-called "unaccusative" ones: e.g., Cat./Sp. morir 'to die' in Cat. Mort Ciceró,.../ Sp. Muerto Cicerón, ...; Cat. arribar / Sp. llegar 'to come' in Cat. Arribat el dia..., / Sp. Llegado el día,..., etc. However, Latin appears to make a different cut since unaccusative verbs like advenire (e.g., ubi dies advenit (Sall. Jug. 113)) cannot form, as pointed out above, Ablative Absolute constructions like *die advento nor other dominant (perfect) participle constructions like *ante/post diem adventum.

  • Sol occasus is a very special case. To my knowledge, sol is the only word in the whole Latin language that can be used with occasus like that. You cannot say post Pompeium occasum. Perfect participles with an active sense do exist, like cenatus, pransus, adultus, obsoletus, inveteratus, … but I do not think dominant-participle constructions have anything to do with it. – Sebastian Koppehel Aug 19 at 21:13
  • @SebastianKoppehel I agree with you that ante solem occasum and sole occaso are “very special cases” but these examples are attested and their existence/usage must then be accounted for (in contrast, I take invented examples like advento die or ante diem adventum not just as “very special” or “very peripheral” but directly as ill-formed; but cf. TKR’s comment. Given that they also violate the typical rule, only their being attested could lead me to reconsider my non-native judgement). – Mitomino Aug 20 at 3:23
  • Cases like sole occaso and ante solem occasum are "very special" but they do exist, so there must be some motivation for their existence: e.g., an analogy with “regular”/expected cases like sole orto and ante solem ortum, the ones involving a deponent verb. Similar (attested!) examples of "very special cases" are welcome! For example, I remember I got surprised to see that a non-deponent verb like erumpere (?) also appeared in an Ablative Absolute in a context related to a vulcano (crucially, the intransitive use of the verb was involved) but I can't remember the source... – Mitomino Aug 20 at 4:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.