8

As Figulus stated in a recent answer:

But passive infinitives are not the only infinitives which lack a gerund. Posse and esse also lack a gerund, and that brings to my mind the neo-Latin expression, A posse ad esse (from being able to merely being)

I'd never noticed this before—but certainly I can't recall ever seeing a gerund for these verbs.

I know esse had some of its missing forms filled in by later authors. For example, since it didn't have a present participle in Classical times, essens and ēns were created by analogy and appeared sporadically in later authors.

Did similar gerundive forms ever appear? That is, did any sort of gerundive for esse or posse ever catch on in post-Classical Latin and see widespread use?

3
  • 5
    A quick search suggests that essendum & possendum & potendum were in use but endum probably not. These would be my four guesses for candidates. I have limited computer access now, so I'll just record these here in the hope that someone (perhaps a later me) picks them up and writes an answer.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 4 at 10:12
  • 1
    @Joonas llmavirta: There are similar problems with present participles. In Oulton's Book III, p.6: "sum: no (present) participle exists. There is, thus, no Latin word for "being". I wondered about "consto", among many definitions, "exist" or "be" (Oxford); therefore, what would "constans" mean? This was years ago and I never thought to ask anyone about it. A Latin word for "being" which would have to describe what a noun, with which it agrees, is doing. Any thoughts?
    – tony
    Jul 4 at 11:48
  • 2
    @tony There's certainly no single Latin word for "being". I suppose most English uses have a natural translation to Latin, but they're all different. Asking about a specific case is a good first step towards translating "being".
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 4 at 18:02

1 Answer 1

12

Scholastic Latin supplied at least some of the lacking forms. For instance, actus essendi is an important concept in Aquinas’ metaphysics.

Giordano Bruno employed the following formula: Modum essendi modus possendi sequitur.

Your Answer

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.