Acts 19:1 in the Vulgate is:

Factum est autem cum Apollo esset Corinthi, ut Paulus peragratis superioribus partibus veniret Ephesum, et inveniret quosdam discipulos

If I'm parsing peregratis correctly, it is a passive participle plural, either ablative or dative. The Douay-Rheims uses the English phrase "having passed [through]" in it's translation.

What I'm confused about is why peregratis appears plural. It's Paul (a single masculine noun) that has "passed through" the coasts, so why isn't it a singular participle? Am I parsing the word incorrectly or misunderstanding what the participle is describing?

1 Answer 1


Because peragratis is a passive participle, it does not mean "having passed through", but instead means "having been passed through".

Therefore, it can't be used as a modifier of Paulus since he is not what has been passed through. What has been passed through? Superioribus partibus. So peragratis agrees with that in gender, number and case.

The whole thing is in the ablative case because this is what's called an "ablative absolute" construction: we have a participle and a noun that go together and provide context for the rest of the sentence.

This construction is very common in Latin, but not in English, so the English translation uses a structure that does not have a word-to-word correspondence with the Latin.

An unidiomatic but more literal translation of the Latin into English would be along the lines of "And it came to pass, while Apollo was at Corinth, that Paul, the upper coasts having been passed through, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples."

  • 2
    +1. I wonder how would you render "Paul, having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus" back into Latin? Would you use the AA construction for this? This question since I'm not sure it is that the construction not common English that made this translated as active, but rather that this not really absolute meaning-wise. Had it was really absolute, there are several construction in English that could be used.
    – d_e
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 18:42
  • 2
    @d_e Paulus, superiores partes transgressus, Ephesum venit. The reason why it works here with an active meaning, is that -gredior compounds are deponent, i.e. their form is passive (except in the present participle and the gerund), but their meaning is active. Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 19:09
  • 4
    @d_e While transgressus works well for this verb, in general the construction as it is now is exactly as it would be. The relative would put too much emphasis on describing what Paul had done, while the action here is more temporal, which is one of the chief uses of the ablative absolute. I wouldn't try to fit Latin's square grammar into (e.g. Greek's or English's) round hole.
    – cmw
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 21:35

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