I am confused by the grammar (or rather wikipedia's analysis) of the sentence

Hunc Dātamēs vīnctum ad rēgem dūcendum trādit Mithridātī. (Nepos)

It appears in a wikipedia article where its translation is given as:

'Datames handed this man over in chains to Mithridates for him to be led to the King'

Wikipedia lists it as an example of a gerundive expressing purpose with "ad". However, for me, it seems like the "ad" here is simply one of direction "lead TO the king". The sense of purpose, that he be lead to the king, arises purely from the gerundive itself. I think "ad regem" is a complement of motion towards of "ducendum", which is (as gerundive) an adjective modifying "hunc".

Is this analysis correct?

Would the following sentence be correct?

Hās Dātamēs vīnctās ad rēgem dūcendās trādit Mithridātī.


2 Answers 2


Your understanding is correct. Here, the gerundive as object complement of hunc is equivalent to a purpose clause (= hunc tradit, ut ad regem ducatur). "Ad regem" is simply a prepositional phrase.

Some examples for comparison:

De Bello Gallico 1.13: [Caesar] pontem in Arari faciendum curat (= curat, ut pons factus sit)

Bellum Alexandrinum 55: [Cassius] Minucium libertis tradit excruciandum

Bellum Civile 3.31: [Scipio] confirmandorum militum causa diripiendas his civitates dedit.

  • I feel the discussion is not fulfilled here. For two reasons: (1) curo is a special verb that occasionally takes the gerundive. I'm not sure this is shared by the verb trado (2) If we intperet ad as prepositional phrase, I don't see how the relation to tradit is established. it is like "... victum, [qui] ad regem ducendum, tradit... - this qui clause is standalone and not related to tradit.
    – d_e
    Jul 18, 2022 at 16:09
  • 2
    @d_e Bellum alexandrinum: [Cassius] Minucium libertis tradit excruciandum. Bellum civile: [Caesar] diripiendas his [militibus] civitates dedit. Jul 18, 2022 at 16:26
  • Ha. some good examples you have found. thanks. For some reason, I marked curo as a special verb in that respect.
    – d_e
    Jul 18, 2022 at 16:36
  • 1
    NB: ut pons facietur > ut pons faciatur / factus sit; vid. latin.stackexchange.com/questions/5851/…
    – Mitomino
    Jul 20, 2022 at 15:45
  • By the way, I was wondering to what extent the following reading is grammatically preferred, the one where vinctum is to be analyzed as a predicative complement of ducendum, which is, in turn, a predicative complement of tradit (cf. OP's translation above and 'Datames handed this man over to Mithridates for him to be led to the King in chains'). This said, I must say that only one translation I've checked is compatible with this alternative reading. Most translations are more compatible with the one provided by JMC/wikipedia article.
    – Mitomino
    Jul 23, 2022 at 0:42

As pointed out by Kingshorsey, your analysis of this sentence is correct. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article classifies your example from Nepos under the wrong descriptor ("The gerundive after ad can also be used to express purpose"), which is only valid for the example above yours in this article: i.e. L. Septimium tribūnum militum ad interficiendum Pompeium mīsērunt. [NB: the very same descriptor says that this usage is shared with the gerund, i.e. the gerund after ad can also be used to express purpose. This is correct for examples like the one mentioned below in the article (e.g. idōneam ad nāvigandum tempestātem 'weather suitable for sailing') but should not be interpreted in the sense that the syntactic distribution of gerunds and gerundives when preceded by the preposition ad is the same: e.g. the preposition + gerund + object construction in L. Septimium [ad interficiendum hostes] miserunt is not correct in Classical Latin (cf. the correct gerundive construction: L. Septimium [ad interficiendos hostes] miserunt); see this post for further discussion].

As for the examples provided by Kingshorsey, it seems to me that it is not obvious that your example from Nepos, where a non-argumental (i.e. adjunct) "purpose" construction (cf. Kingshorsey: "the gerundive as object complement of hunc is equivalent to a purpose clause") appears to be involved, is to be assimilated to an example like Caesar pontem in Arari faciendum curat, where the gerundival clause does have an argumental (i.e. non-adjunct) status. See this previous post on how many types of "predicative gerundives" are in Latin; in particular, take a look at the last information in this previous post: "Pinkster (2021: 231; fn. 268) points out that the causative verb curare lacks a final interpretation". In contrast, note that this "final interpretation" is not obviously excluded in your example from Nepos. So, after all, these two examples could be provided with different syntactic analyses. As far as I know, this tricky (but very interesting!) issue of Latin syntax remains to be solved, i.e. you'll find some people who are happy to unify the apparently different types of so-called "predicative gerundives" (let's call them "the lumpers") and others, "the splitters", who aren't.

  • After re-reading the linked thread, I agree that one can (should?) distinguish between predicative gerundive as argument and as adjunct. Jul 18, 2022 at 20:37
  • 1
    @Kingshorsey Thanks for your re-reading my second link above. A clarification: for “the lumpers" all predicative gerundives can in fact/in the end be shown to share a parallelism with so-called "dominant participles". At first sight, this proposal can be regarded as too strong (specially when dealing with apparently “non-dominant”/adjunct cases like the one in OP’s question) but think about what it really means to say what you and many of us have been taught: "the gerundive as object complement of hunc is equivalent to a purpose clause".
    – Mitomino
    Jul 19, 2022 at 4:02
  • 1
    @Kingshorsey How syntactically real is this "equivalence"? See also Vester’s conclusion (1991: 303) of her Section 3.1.1 “The syntactic behaviour of participles and gerundives: distribution”, which is also relevant here: “so there is a correspondence between participle and gerundive only in their use in the dominant construction” (bold mine; see my first link above for this reference). Important conclusion, indeed! In my opinion, that of a hesitant splitter, here is where "the lumpers" begin to win the game.
    – Mitomino
    Jul 19, 2022 at 4:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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