Currently doing some beginner practice with Alexander Lenard's translation of Winnie the Pooh. It says, "Ecce Eduardus Ursus scalis nunc tump-tump-tump occipite gradus pulsante post Christophorum Robinum descendens."

'Occipite' is in the imperative mood, but why? I don't see how the context calls for it. Any help is appreciated.


It isn't imperative. It's the ablative singular of occiput, occipitis, 'the back of the head.' So occipite gradus pulsante is ablative absolute: 'the back of his head striking the stairs'

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  • 3
    It should probably be noted that the more regular word is occipitium. Weird that that wasn't chosen for clarity's sake. – C. M. Weimer Jul 31 '17 at 4:12
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    Lenard was a (medical) doctor, who would use occiput professionally. – Tom Cotton Jul 31 '17 at 16:40
  • Thank you all! 'Occipitium' is in my Latin dictionary and not 'occiput'. I appreciate all your clarifications. <3 – David Shorten Aug 1 '17 at 15:34
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    The answer "So occipite gradus pulsante is ablative absolute" turned on a light for me, a Latin dilettante, and it also answered other snippets that I was struggling to understand. The secret was in finding out what the ablative absolute is and what it does; until I looked that up, I was still in mystery. Thanks very much. – user3261298 Dec 1 '17 at 18:50
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    Can't resist observing that occiput is probably just as acceptable as occipitium, Persius I, 61-2 : vos, o patricius sanguis, quos vivere fas est occipiti caeco, posticae occurrite sannae. – Tom Cotton Dec 1 '17 at 20:33

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