Reading Ambrose Dē bonō mortis 4.14, I came across this passage:

Sed ipsa hīc vīta bona sī est, quibus rēbus bona est? Virtūte utique, et bonīs mōribus.

But if this life here is a Good, by which things is it good? By unconditional virtue and good morals.

Utique can most certainly be translated differently, such as simply at least or similar adverbial phrases: **

At least by virtue and good morals.
By all means, by virtue and good morals.
Finally* by virtue and good morals.

*     This translation would not be suitable in this context, though.
**    The German nähmlich (NO: nemlig) would be most suitable here.

But it struck me as very suitable to translate it as an adjective instead. As known, numerous adverbs are made from what initially were ablatives of adjectives. Nils Sjöstrand (§ 53–54) states that (here in summarised form):

Adverbs are made from adjectives by adding

  1. the suffix from old ablative -ēd < -ōd.
  2. the suffix < -ōd in a few cases.
  3. the suffix -iter (3rd decl.) or -cter with syncopation or er for -nt stem adjectives.
    1. adverbs from superlatives
    2. -e and -is adverbs
  4. Adverbs from acc. sg. n. (adverbial accusative)
  5. Adverbs not made from adjectives, hereunder:
    1. from the stems of nouns or verbs (-am, -tim, -sim, -itus, -s, )
    2. räckneadverb (= NO talladverb = EN adverbs of counting?) and pronominal adverbs
    3. from preposition plus noun, adjective or pronominal adverb
    4. a further list of specific adverbs

From this, I cannot find any grounds for analysing an adverb adjectivally. My question therefore is this:

Could adverbs function as adjectives, presumably with nouns in the ablative?

‘Could an adjective be used like an adverb in Latin?’

  • 1
    I can't answer the broader question, but I'll say that the adjectival translation makes no sense to me. Utique here means "assuredly" or "by all means." It is OF COURSE because of virtue and good morals that life itself is a good. One could easily imagine quidem in its place. Aug 12, 2021 at 16:24
  • That is what I thought as well, but when translating it to Norwegian, my head began wondering. And then of course there is the (generally) adjectival origin of adverbs which makes it interesting.
    – Canned Man
    Aug 12, 2021 at 19:43


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