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Every beginning Latin-learner is familiar with the idea of deponent verbs: verbs that have passive forms but active meanings.

I am curious about a small subset of Latin verbs that aren't just intransitive, but have unmistakably passive meanings. I can think of two important examples now, though I am sure there are more:

(Actually, the second example appears to be easily explicable: vaeneo = venum eo: to go to sale)

A few clarifications:

  1. Are these verbs really distinctive at all? Would they have struck a Roman as being passive, or is this just a case where we lack an English translation that is not passive? A remark from a (post-)classical grammarian regarding vapulare would be helpful here.
  2. Assuming they are sui generis, what are some other verbs (if any) that belong to this category?
  3. Are there any distinctive grammatical features of verbs like this? For instance, could "I am beaten by him" be translated vapulo ab eo?
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    The second conjugation iacēre is kind of a passive of the third conjugation iacĕre. It's more like "to be in a thrown state, to have been thrown" than "to be thrown". Would you count this as a passive meaning? Second conjugation verbs seem to describe states rather than actions. – Joonas Ilmavirta Aug 30 '16 at 13:46
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    @JoonasIlmavirta That might work, though I guess "lie" is a pretty good English translation in most cases. Your remark about the 2nd conjugation is interesting--I remember noticing the same thing about French (blanchir, rougir, blêmir). It's not universal, though: we certainly have verbs like moneo and video that are transitive. – brianpck Aug 30 '16 at 17:06
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In linguistic parlance these verbs are usually called “stative”, not “passive”. From a Latin standpoint they differ from passive verbs in that they cannot (apparently) be construed with an agent (Latin ab + ablative).

Ancient Indo-European is believed to have had an active and a middle voice, but no passive. But it did have the facility to form stative stems using the suffix *-yo-. In Sanskrit these verbs are conjugated with middle-voice endings, but in Latin they take active endings. iacere vs. iacēre is a classic example.

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    I just found an interesting quote from Quintilian: (Inst. Orat. 9.2.12.3-4: "...tum augendi criminis gratia, ut testis in reum, rogatus an ab reo fustibus uapulasset, 'innocens', inquit..." – brianpck Aug 30 '16 at 19:55
  • Interresting... – fdb Aug 30 '16 at 20:53

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