I'm struggling with translating a line from Book 4, Chapter 35 from Caesar's De Bello Gallico. Here is the Latin portion (bolded) with context.

Caesar, etsi idem quod superioribus diebus acciderat fore videbat, ut, si essent hostes pulsi, celeritate periculum effugerent, tamen nactus equites circiter XXX, quos Commius Atrebas, de quo ante dictum est, secum transportaverat, legiones in acie pro castris constituit.

Currently, I have this part translated as "nevertheless with around 30 horsemen obtained", but I don't think "with" is correct to use as there is no ablative here. Any thoughts?

1 Answer 1


You have the vocabulary, but there's one small piece of grammar that you need.

Nactus is the perfect "passive" participle of nanciscor, meaning "get, obtain, receive." However, we need to recall that the perfect passive participle of a deponent verb has an active meaning. Hortatus (from hortor) means "having encouraged," not "having been encouraged." This may seem obvious, but in fact the formation and meaning of deponent participles isn't as intuitive as you would think:

Participle     Form        Meaning     

hortans        Active      Active      encouraging
hortatus       Passive     Active      having encouraged
hortaturus     Active      Active      about to encourage
hortandus      Passive     Passive     to be encouraged

Nactus thus means "having obtained." Otherwise, it functions as a normal participle and agrees with Caesar.

A full, literal translation of your passage is:

Caesar, even though he saw that the same thing that had happened in previous days would come to be, that, if the enemy were beaten, they would flee away from danger through speed, nevertheless having collected about 30 horsemen, whom Commis Atrebas, who was mentioned previously, had brought along with him, drew up the legions in a battle line in front of the camp.

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