Many participles in Latin are "substantivated": that is, they effectively become nouns - using the neutral gender either by plural of singular like secretum or apertum. Do we have examples of gerundives - which are also types of participles - become like nouns?

Can the Ciceronian quote: "cavebo quae sunt cavenda" be shortened to cavebo cavenda? Or else, it is impossible grammatically?

As noted by Mitomino in later times it appears to be possible. I think I've found another non-classical example: et bene puerilem ostendit animum, qui per mobilitatem et inconstantiam frequenter optat timenda (Serv.A.4.157.5).

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    Gerundives can be substantivized: e.g. mutandis in the Ablative Absolute (AA) expression mutatis mutandis (cf. latin.stackexchange.com/questions/15476/… ). So I guess a relevant clarification here is what one should understand by "we" in your question (e.g. could Cicero accept mutatis mutandis as an AA or, for that matter, would cavebo cavenda be an acceptable shortening of cavebo quae sunt cavenda for him?). Interesting question! +1!
    – Mitomino
    Nov 21, 2023 at 18:44
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    Would you considered a periphrastic expression to be substantive? For example "pradendum est" (it is time for lunch) Dec 1, 2023 at 10:00
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    @TylerDurden, well, I'm not sure if that technically counts, but even if it does is not quite what I'm seeking here.
    – d_e
    Dec 1, 2023 at 11:56

1 Answer 1


There are some classical examples for this, here are some:

Cogita enim quam multis militibus non semper sobriis et imperator et tribunus et centurio tacenda mandaverint. (SenPhil.Ep.83.12.5)

Looking tacenda we find another exmaple:

ut ventum ad cenam est, dicenda tacenda locutus tandem dormitum dimittitur (Hor.Ep.1.7.72);

[Out of content We can read in 3 different ways either tacenda or dicaenda is substantive; or, thirdly, as Loeb has both substantives: "he chatted about anything and everything"]

Easier to search the genitive:

animus intuens vera, peritus fugiendorum ac petendorum, non ex opinione, sed ex natura pretia rebus inponens (SenPhil.Ep.66.6.5)

Fortitudo contemptrix timendorum est; (SenPhil.Ep.88.29.2)

That said, several times authors seem to be reluctant to substativize like the long quae sunt caveda.

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    These examples are really interesting! By the way, did you find similar examples in Cicero? For example, Pinkster, in his Oxford Latin Syntax (see p. 1258, vol. I, 2015), gives this example from this author: Stultitiam autem et timiditatem et iniustitiam et intemperantiam cum dicimus esse fugienda (Cic. Fin. 3.39). Pinkster states that in this example "fugienda is substantival: ‘things to be avoided’" (p. 1258) but I do not think this is a good example of substantivation of a gerundive. Your examples are indeed clearer.
    – Mitomino
    Dec 9, 2023 at 23:53
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    @Mitomino, I didn't find from Cicero. there were two examples that I rejected: 1) ut duo genera propter se expetendorum reperiantur.(I think expetendorum is masculine look at context from above. 2) sed et alia timenda sunt ab aliisque et ab hoc ipso quae dantur (here I think alia is the subs.)... But I merely skimmed the results I could have missed many but I don't think I missed too much. I hoped to find example from Cicero but didn;t.
    – d_e
    Dec 10, 2023 at 6:27
  • @Mitomino, I can't see why Pinkster says this fugienda is "substantival" (maybe I have in mind another definition of substantival), it really looks that stultita, et... et intemperantia are the subjects... i.e., those are the things to be avoided.
    – d_e
    Dec 10, 2023 at 6:36
  • Many thanks for this interesting example from Cicero: ut duo genera propter se expetendorum reperiantur. As for Pinkster's example, there's some debate in the literature as to how one must understand cases that involve, e.g., a coordination of feminine subjects having a neuter predicate. The easy/traditional explanation is to say the the latter is substantival. Cf. also Ni virtus fidesque vostra satis spectata mihi forent, nequiquam opportuna res cecidisset (Sall. Cat. 20.2). Cf. the somewhat unexpected pl. neuter form spectata with the expected pl. fem. form spectatae.
    – Mitomino
    Dec 10, 2023 at 20:11
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    @tony Yes, I think that timendorum in Seneca's example is a very good example of a substantivation of a gerundive. In contrast, fugienda in Pinkster's (2015: 1258) example does not necessarily involve substantivation since its neuter gender could be attributed to the following semantic agreement rule pointed out by Dirk Panhuis (2006: 102): "Inanimate subjects with various abstract feminine subjects may have a neuter plural predicate" (cf. also Sallust's example above).
    – Mitomino
    Dec 16, 2023 at 16:59

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