ᴘᴇʀ + ᴀʙʟ.: Barbarism, solœcism, or diachronic evolution?
Lewis and Short clearly state that per is a praeposition whose normal complement is in the accusative. Without having dolven too deeply into dusty corpora of limited search capability, all examples I’ve so far chanced upon, howsoever arbitrarily scattered and therefore irrepresentatively anecdotal, nonetheless universally employ the accusative for all of per’s complementation.
However, L&S further mention, albeit parenthetically, that “by solecism” per can sometimes be found to take an ablative complement, viz.:
per, prep. with acc. (by solecism with abl. PER QVO, =
Is the supercited “solecism” saying that if you’re using ablative, you have no reason to bother with an explicit praeposition in the first place?
In book 2 of The Æneid starting at line 210, Virgil has with/by blood and fire in the ablative without bothering to decorate these with a pleonastic praeposition:
Fit sonitus spumante salo; iamque arva tenebant,
ardentisque oculos suffecti sanguine et igni,
sibila lambebant linguis vibrantibus ora.
I can readily unearth uncountably many examples of venerated writers using per never with the ablative, only with the accusative alone. My reading of the OED’s first two subsenses for solecism suggest that they are equating solecism with catachresis:
a. An impropriety or irregularity in speech or diction; a violation of the rules of grammar or syntax; properly, a faulty concord.
b. Without article: Violation of the rules of concord in grammar or syntax; incorrect or ungrammatical speech or diction, or the use of this.
Shall I assume that giving per an ablative complement is to be considered stigmatic of one or another sort of faulty grammar, whether perceived to come from unlettered rustics who are presumed to know no better, or as some despective neologism invented by newer generations further along the Sisyphean pendulum swinging from Classical Latin’s highly synthetic model towards the somewhat more analytic model of Proto- and eventually Modern Romance?