My attempt would be:

"Ego censeo nostrum phasmidum (insectus qui ut baculum parvum videtur) moriturum esse me danti eum nostro criceto, ut cricetus noster eum voret."

But I don't know whether you can use absolute ablative to mean a cause — cause of death, in this case.

  • 4
    The ablative form of a present participle (at least in an AA) ends in -e, so it's me dante. (This is just a comment on that ending, not on the choice of structure as a whole.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 15 at 9:03
  • 1
    I would suggest using a simpler example: your sample sentence has a few dubious choices that don't really relate to the question you're asking about. In this particular case (for example), an AA is almost certainly not the right choice because it has the same subject (me) as the main clause (ego).
    – brianpck
    Apr 15 at 17:52

1 Answer 1


The subject of the ablative absolute tends to be different from that of the main clause. Therefore it is not a good choice. And even in a case where AA is a valid choice, it should probably be of the past kind to describe something that happened before. Expressing a cause through AA is fine, but but it's a bad choice of structure here for other reasons.

My suggestion with any complicated sentence is to start simple and build up. First of all, I'm going to change the insect to a bird and the hamster to a lion to shift the focus away from vocabulary and focus on structure alone. Try to solve one problem at a time, and try asking about a single one at a time. Ask separately about syntax and vocabulary; it makes your questions more relevant to others and easier for a single person to answer.

An accusative with infinitive is a good way to express your thought:

Avem nostram perituram puto.
I think our bird will die.

If ACI feels too cumbersome, especially with all the added structure, you can also just state the death directly and add ut credo or something similar. It's good to look for different options and see what feels right.

If you give something for some purpose, the gerundive is your friend:

Avem leoni edendam do.
I give the bird to the lion to eat.

You could try to combine these two directly:

Avem nostram a me leoni edendam datam perituram puto.
I think that our bird, given by me to the lion to eat, will die.

This sounds clunky and the barrage of accusatives is not easy to parse. A relative clause is a better way to add being given to a lion, and quippe can be used to add some causal flavor:

Avem nostram, quippe quam leoni edendam dedi, perituram puto.
I think that our bird will die for I gave it to the lion to eat.

This begins to sound reasonable to me. (I'm not convinced of all details such as using indicative in the relative clause, but I run out of polishing time.) Remember that translating to Latin is about expressing the same thought in Latin, using the set of tools it offers. Some details might be fluent to mention in English and clumsy in Latin, in which case they can be dropped or moved to another sentence.

  • One thing to note is that the English original doesn't specify whether the insect has actually been fed to the hamster, or whether that clause is equivalent to a protasis, while this translation clearly opts for the former.
    – TKR
    Apr 16 at 0:40
  • @TKR True. That's a part of my last point. I made some choices that were outside the original, because that led to phrasings I liked better. I could think of different approaches but none would match the original content perfectly.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 16 at 1:35
  • I was wondering if you think that the dative that shows up in predicative gerundive constructions like Avem leoni edendam do could in principle be said to be grammatically ambiguous between a Goal reading (i.e. recipient of do) and a 'dative of agent' reading (i.e. agent of edendam). The former is the appropriate one but, grammatically speaking, in your opinion, what would prevent the latter?
    – Mitomino
    Apr 16 at 23:20
  • @Mitomino My gut reaction is a matter of hierarchy: I feel that the top level statement is avem leoni do and the gerundive adds a detail to it. In leoni edendum est the main statement is edendum est and the dative is the added flavor. I'm not sure I can justify this apart from guessing that the main structures can appear without the flavor but not vice versa.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 17 at 17:17
  • Many thanks for letting me know your opinion, which makes sense to me. My opinion/proposal is that in avem leoni edendam do the "dative-of-agent" reading is not possible here since such a reading would require the syntactic context of esse (I say "syntactic" since this verbal form can be elliptical: e.g. cf. the last examples in my previous question: latin.stackexchange.com/questions/12844/… ). If so, this example is not (and, in fact, can not be!) ambiguous.
    – Mitomino
    Apr 17 at 18:20

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