Qs have been asked about expressions-of-time, of the type: "in the second year" = "secondo anno"; "within three days" = "tribus diebus"; "for two years" = "(per) duos annos" ("per" is optional) which follow logical patterns of case-endings. Some are not so clear-cut.

North & Hillard Ex. 200: the following is to be translated into Latin:

He was not the man to put his own prosperity before that of the state; and he used to say that when his countrymen needed him they would recall him; till that time should arrive he was willing to remain in exile.

Translation: non enim is fuit qui suum commodum republicae anteponeret et affirmabat cives suos se cum opus esset, revocaturos; quod ad tempus (ad id temporis) se velle in exsilio manere.

N & H have offered two expressions-of-time: firstly, "ad tempus" usually given as "on time" (ad + accusative) lit. "to-the-time (appointed)" ("on time" can be given as dative, "tempori", which translates sensibly to "to/ for-the-time"; but, may lead to confusion as to which one to use--does it matter?). Here "ad tempus" clearly means "temporarily"; "temporarily, he was content to remain in exile". In the dict. listings "ad + acc." can mean "for": "ad tempus" = "for-the-time (being)" = "temporarily".

Secondly, alternative "ad id temporis". In "General Vocabulary", p.297, N & H give this as "till that time"; but, lit. "to that (presumably "event") of-the-time" (using the genitive), without adding a lot of extra words e.g. "that-it (the event)-may-happen" it makes little sense, in English. How does "ad id temporis" come to mean "till that time", in Latin? This does, of course, fit the translation "till that time, of his recall, he was content to remain in exile".

Continuing with Titus Livius (Livy XL. 4):

ad multo ante praecogitatum revoluta facinus…

translation: having fallen back to a purpose that she imagined long before...

Pock. Ox. Lat. Dict. gives adverb "multo" = "long (before or after)"; therefore not requiring "ante"; alternatively, using "ante" as adverb, putting the period of time into the ablative, giving Livy's "multo ante"; but this particular type of expression is usually more clearly defined e.g. "duobus ante annis" = "two years before" (adverb must be written after at least one of the relevant words in the ablative). Nevertheless, am guessing that, here (Livy), this is ablative "multo" + "ante", is this correct?

  • 3
    When your dictionary says that multo = 'long (before or after)', it doesn't mean that the word by itself means 'long before' or 'long after'; rather, when it's paired with another word that means 'before' or 'after', it can mean 'long.' The parentheses in that definitition are significant.
    – cnread
    Sep 26, 2019 at 16:52
  • @cnread: Thank you. Was wondering why hadn't seen this in use.
    – tony
    Sep 27, 2019 at 12:05
  • 2
    I'm not sure how well I understand your question. Ad + acc. often signals a limit or goal, a point of termination. So, ad vesperum means "until evening." In the expression "ad tempus," the idea is "until an unspecified time," ergo, "temporarily." In the expression "id temporis," "temporis" is a partitive genitive. Time is being viewed as a continuum, and id is marking out a specific piece of it. Thus, ad id temporis means "until that moment of time." Sep 30, 2019 at 17:54
  • Two great questions. The second one is actually not really related to the first one, though I can understand why you suspected they might be. I'll try to answer the second one later. Or you could split your question in twain.
    – Cerberus
    Oct 1, 2019 at 3:45

1 Answer 1


Latin often uses a neuter singular (often adjectival) word, with the main substantive noun in the genitive, where we would use the main substantive in its normal case with the adjectival word's agreeing with the substantive. This happens especially with pronominal adjectives, like id and quid:

Quid facinoris est in hoc amore?, "what of crime is there in this love?", where we would be inclined to simply use quod facinus, "what crime", where quod is used attributively to agree with facinus.

Id temporis, "this [bit/moment] of time" = id tempus "this time".

As Kinghorsey says in his comment, it is a partitive genitive, expressing the whole of which the non-genitive word is a part. It works like gutta vini, "a drop of wine". In id temporis, the genitive is the whole (temporis), and id is the part of this whole: "this part of time" = "this moment in time" = "this time".

As to your second question, multo cannot be used alone to mean "long before": it only means "long" when accompanying a word like ante, so multo ante means "long before". So your dictionary is a bit unclear about that. This ablative multo is used to indicate by what measure or to what degree an adverb (like ante) or adjective applies; it is often called the ablativus mensurae. From Lewis & Short:

[multo] 4. In specifications of time, before ante and post, long, much: "non multo ante urbem captam", Cic. Div. 1, 45, 101: "non multo ante", not long before, Nep. Eum. 3, 3: "multo ante", Cic. Fam. 4, 1, 1: "non multo post, quam, etc.", not long after, id. Att. 12, 49, 9: "haud multo ante solis occasum", Liv. 5, 39, 2: "multo ante noctem", id. 27, 42, 13.—

  • Thanks to Kinghorsey and yourself.
    – tony
    Oct 1, 2019 at 9:00

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