Genesim 1:13 Hieronymus sic traduxit:

Et factum est vespere et mane, dies tertius.

Cur “vespere”, non “vesper”? Puto id in casu nominativo esse debere, sed nonne “vespere” in casu ablativo est? Si non nominativo, subiectum sententiæ quid est?


Vespere, like mane, is adverbial (originally from the ablative), 'in the evening.' Also like mane, in late vulgar Latin it became an indeclinable substantive.

That mane, as an ablative, can turn into an adverb and then be used as a noun allows vespere to be done on analogy.

For example, Vergil (Georg. 3.325) can say mane novum 'new morning', Cicero (Att. 5.4.1) joked with Atticus about sleeping mane totum 'the whole morning', and of course Martial (1.49.36) can simply say, mane erat 'it was morning.

While we don't quite see this development with vesper in Classical Latin, fifth-century vulgar Latin was no stranger to strange developments, and mane furnishes a perfect parallel (both grammatically and conceptually) to allow Jerome to use it as such.

There is an alternative way to look at it, which would be to read factum est as an impersonal and vespere et mane adverbially/as ablatives of time. I don't like that reading, and I think it's being too charitable to vulgar Latin, but there you have it anyway.

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