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I saw a paradigm of the adjective deceptus -a -um (which is the participle of decipio) in which the neuter single ablative form is deceptum rather than decepto as we would expect. So, if this is true, then in the sentence from De Bello Gallico:

sed eo deceptum, quod neque commissum a se intellegeret quare timeret, neque sine causa timendum putare

then should I take it that deceptum agrees with and modifies eo? If so, is this unusual form of the ablative just a bizarre aberration or is there a logic to it?

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  • Man, that sentence gives me flashbacks to my first reading of BG. Mar 1 at 23:04

3 Answers 3

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No, that site is wrong, and is a good reason to stop using sites like that. The ending for ablative neuter singular deceptum is -o. If you check Wiktionary, they have the right paradigm.

Moreover, if there were such a huge exception to the word, you would have seen it listed in a proper dictionary, like the OLD or Lewis and Short, the latter of which has this very citation but is silent on any unexpected forms.

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    I seem to recall that the OP has been confused by wrong information from that website several times before and was made aware of its quality. Mar 1 at 23:03
  • @SebastianKoppehel I concur. I just hope this time some learning happens and a better reference material is converted to.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 2 at 16:33
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First, remember that we are in extended indirect discourse (His Caesar ita respondit). Thus, we are looking for verbs with an AcI structure. Deceptum is one of those verbs; it should be read with an understood esse (or maybe fuisse?). The subject is elliptical, but refers back to Romanus populus. Eo quod is a set phrase meaning "by the fact that."

His Caesar ita respondit ... qui [Romanus populus] si alicuius iniuriae sibi conscius fuisset, non fuisse difficile cavere; sed eo deceptum quod neque commissum a se intellegeret quare timeret, neque sine causa timendum putaret.

Caesar replied to them ... that if they [the Roman people] had been conscious of any affront [they had caused], it would have been difficult for them not to be on guard; but they were deceived by the fact that they neither understood any wrongdoing to have been committed by them that would serve as a basis for their fear, nor thought that they should be afraid without cause.

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  • In the previous sentence ("eo gravius ferre, quo minus merito populi Romani accidissent: qui si alicuius iniuriae sibi conscius fuisset, non fuisse difficile cavere; sed eo deceptum, quod neque commissum a se intellegeret quare timeret, neque sine causa timendum putaret.") populi Romani is plural, so if deceptus refers to Romani then it should be decepti not deceptum. Mar 1 at 13:56
  • So, what is deceptus -a -um modifying then? Is it a neuter singular nominative being used substantively? The problem with this is then intellegeret, because deceptum cannot be the subject of intellegeret as far as I can see. In fact, I cannot even see what the subject of intellegeret is because populi is plural. Mar 1 at 14:00
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    It is a verb in indirect discourse: Romanum populum deceptum esse/fuisse. Mar 1 at 14:02
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    @Asteroides no I just had a brain fart and wrote the wrong word. Yes, it's clearly genitive, modifying merito. Mar 1 at 15:35
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    I think the only way to read it is with merito, i.e. "by the merit of the Roman people"
    – brianpck
    Mar 1 at 15:37
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Just to clarify Kingshorsey's answer. This sentence is indirect speech which is confusing because there are several implied words. So, the passage should be read as (see Commentaries on the Gallic War by Andrews 1866, p. 321):

sed eo [populum Romanum] deceptum [esse] , quod neque commissum a se intellegeret quare timeret, neque sine causa timendum putaret.

where the omitted populum Romanum is the subject of timeret and putaret and esse is used impersonally (meaning it has no specific subject) in the pluperfect, so it means "In this, the Roman people had been deceived ...].

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    populum Romanum is the elliptical subject of deceptum (esse). In direct speech, the sentence would read "populus Romanus deceptus est." Note that the subject is also elliptical in the previous clause: (se) cavere Mar 1 at 15:52

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