Gerunds and Gerundives: Exemplification |
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Latin Text

Gerunds and Gerundives: Exemplification


On 6 March 2010 Sabidius issued on this blogspot a short item concerning the use of Gerunds (verbal nouns) and Gerundives (passive verbal adjectives) in Latin; and on 17 January 2011 he followed this up with an article entitled “Nunc est bibendum”, which was a detailed discussion of the controversy concerning whether the “bibendum” in this famous quotation was a Gerund or a Gerundive, and thus the alternative possibilities for its translation. Now, having just completed a translation of Book XXX of Livy’s history (see article dated 26 November 2011 on this blogspot), Sabidius has combed this text for all its uses of both Gerunds and Gerundives in order to provide actual examples of these in relation to the possible types of use listed in the article dated 6 March 2010. Each example shown below is identified by the number of the relevant chapter and section where it may be found, and the actual Gerund or Gerundive, and the words used in English to translate it, are highlighted in italics. The English translations shown below are cast in a literal form, and, in the case of Gerundives, these translations reflect the fact that these are passive in voice. However, in his recent translation of Book XXX, Sabidius has rendered most of these Gerundives in an active voice, but with the more literal passive version, as shown below, indicated in brackets.

A. GERUNDS (Total 41):

1. In the Accusative case: following the preposition ‘ad’ to express purpose (2):

12.6. non dari spatium ad cessandum: time is not given for loitering.

16.13. ad consultandum: for deliberating.

2. In the Genitive case: objective genitive following certain abstract nouns and adjectives (16):

1.5 (x2). suadendi ac dissuadendi locus esset: there was an opportunity for persuading and dissuading.

3.7. causa probabilis suis commeandi foret: there should be a plausible pretext for his (emissaries) for going to and fro.

3.10. spem fecerant … incendi: had caused (him) hope of setting fire.

4.6. omnia visendi … tempus: the time to inspect everything.

4.7. neglegentia … orta cavendi: neglect to take precautions arose.

10.19. transiliendi datum spatium propugnatoribus: time given to the fighting men for jumping across.

17.6 (x3). circumeundi salutandique deos agendique grates potestas fieret: the opportunity should be available … of going around and paying their respects to the gods and of giving their thanks.

22.5. potestatem interrogandi … legatos: the opportunity of interrogating the ambassadors.

28.8. nullum propinquum debellandi finem: no end of the fighting approaching.

29.5. colloquendi secum potestatem: an opportunity of holding a conference with him.

33.8. non causa militandi eadem esset: no reason for military service was the same.

37.2. populandique finem: an end to devastation.

43.7 sibi quos vellent … redimendi potestas fieret: the opportunity might occur to them of ransoming (those) whom they wished.

3. In the Ablative case: instrumental ablative (N.B. in some cases it is possible to see these as ablatives of manner, or modal ablatives) (22):

8.3 (x2). succendo ad stationes hostium lacessendoque: by coming up to the enemy’s outposts and challenging (them).

12.8 (x2). nec quae acta essent promendo … nec suadendo: neither by revealing what had been done … nor by persuasion.

13.2. victoriam suam augendo: by exaggerating their victory.

18.3. praeter spem resistendo: by resisting contrary to expectation.

20.2 vetando supplementum et pecuniam mitti: by forbidding reinforcements and money being sent.

23.3 (x2). caedendo exercitus, agros populandi: by destroying their armies, and by ravaging their lands.

28.5. senex vincendo factus: having become elderly by conquest.

28.8. has formidines agitando animis: by pondering these apprehensions in their minds.

30.23 (x2). non statuendo felicitati modum nec cohibendo efferentem se fortunam: by setting no limit to his success and by not checking a good fortune (which was) carrying him away.

32.5 (x2). admonendo atque hortando: by admonition and exhortation.

34.5. primos caedendo: by cutting down the men in the front rank.

34.10. vagam ante se cernendo aciem: in perceiving the unsteady line in front of them.

42.14 (x2). nunc purgando crimina, nunc quaedam fatendo: at one moment by excusing the charges, (and) at another moment by admitting some (of them).

42.14. nunc monendo etiam patres conscripti: now by even admonishing the conscript fathers.

42.17 (x2). plus paene parcendo victis quam vincendo: almost more by sparing the vanquished than by crushing (them).

4. In the Ablative Case: after a preposition which takes the ablative (1):

13.9. eadem haec et Syphax animis in adloquendo victorem: these same (considerations) also gave Syphax courage in addressing the victor. (N.B. This usage of the gerund after a preposition taking the ablative is unusual in that it is followed by a direct object. In practice, a gerundive would normally be used in classical Latin, i.e. in victore adloquendo, in this case. See section B.4.j. below.)

B. GERUNDIVES (Total 79):

1. Predicative adjective (passive) used, in respect of a transitive verb, to denote necessity, obligation or propriety (19):

a. In the Nominative Case (5):

1.5. seu causa oranda: whether a legal case a legal case (was) needing to be pleaded.

4.5. seu consulendus Hasdrubal et Carthaginienses essent: or if Hasdrubal and the Carthaginians were needing to be consulted.

14.5. tibi appetendus visus sim: I may have seemed to you worthy to be approached.

30.22. ea habenda fortuna erit, quam di dederint: that fortune will be needing to be accepted which the gods will have granted.

40.10. si deportandus exercitus victor ex Africa esset: if the victorious army was due to be brought back from Africa.

b. In the Accusative Case (14):

7.7 (x2). reparandum exercitum Syphacemque hortandum: that the army (was) needing to be reinforced and Syphax (was) needing to be encouraged.

9.7. legatos … ad Hannibalem mittendos: that delegates (were) needing to be sent to Hannibal.

16.14. nullas recusandas condiciones pacis: that no terms of peace (were) right to be refused.

17.2. regem in custodia Albam mittendum: that the king was needing to be sent to prison at Alba.

17.2. Laelium retinendum: that Laelius was needing to be retained.

23.1. consulem … arcessendum: that the consul … (was) needing to be summoned.

23.4 (x2). accipiendam abnuendamve pacem esse: peace was needing to be accepted or needing to be rejected.

23.5 (x2). iubendosque Italia excedere et custodes cum iis … mittendos: and that they (were) needing to be ordered from Italy, and that guards (were) needing to be sent with them.

26.4. legatos ad regem … mittendos: that ambassadors (were) needing to be sent to the king.

31.10. habendamque eam fortuna quam dei dedissent: that that fortune (was) needing to be accepted that the gods had given.

36.3. admovendam … undique terror: that terror (was) needing to be brought to bear from all sides.

2. Predicative adjective (passive), used, in respect of an intransitive verb or a transitive verb being employed intransitively, to denote necessity, obligation or propriety. (N.B. This usage is a form of the impersonal passive construction. Some grammatical authorities have considered it to be a case of the gerund rather than the gerundive.) (6):

a. In the Nominative case (3):

12.16. quid Carthaginiensi ab Romano … timendum sit, vides: you know what it is necessary to be feared by a Carthaginian from a Roman.

30.18. maxime cuique fortunae minime credendum est: it is necessary to be trusted least in respect of each (piece of) good fortune.

31.3. sic mihi laborandum est: it is needing to be endeavoured by me.

b. In the Accusative case, as the subject of an indirect statement (3):

21.9. deis grates agendas: that thanks (were) needing to be given to the gods.

23.5. Scipioni scribendum: that it (was) needing to be written to Scipio.

31.10. armis decernendum esse: that it was needing to be decided by (force of) arms.

3. Predicative adjective used in the sense of a present participle passive. (N.B. This is a survival from early Latin usage.) (1):

a. In the Nominative Case (1):

16.4. ex ea regione ex qua oriundi erant: from that land from which they were sprung.

4. Attributive adjective (passive) (53):

a. In the Nominative Case, with the force of necessity, obligation or propriety (2):

2.5. Italiae ora … tuenda: the coast of Italy needing to be defended.

45.5. Polybius, haudquaquam spernendus auctor: Polybius, an authority by no means suitable to be despised.

b. In the Accusative Case, as the subject of indirect statement, with the force of necessity, obligation or propriety (2):

37.1. deos et ius iurandum esse: that the gods and an oath needing to be sworn (really) do exist.

37.12. cetera quae abessent aestimanda Scipioni permitti: that the other things needing to be assessed in value, which were missing, should be left to Scipio.

c. In the Accusative Case, attached to a noun preceded by the preposition ‘ad’, and denoting purpose (28):

2.4. ad tuendam Sardiniam oram: for the purpose of the coast of Sardinia being defended.

3.3. ad commeatus intercipiendos: for the purpose of their supplies being intercepted.

4.6. ad comparanda ea quae in rem erant: for the purpose of those things which were in his project to be arranged.

5.8. ad restinguendum incendium: with the purpose of the fire being extinguished.

7.6. ad tuendam ab exitiali bello patriam: with the purpose of his country being defended from a war of destruction.

9.1. ad persequendos Syphacem atque Hasdrubalem: with the purpose of Syphax and Hasdrubal being pursued.

9.5. ad Hannibalem arcessendum: for the purpose of Hannibal being summoned.

9.6 ad opprimendam stationem navium: with the purpose of the squadron of ships being overwhelmed.

12.10. ad regiam occupandam: for the purpose of the palace being occupied.

13.3. ad amicitiam eius petendam: for the purpose of his friendship being sought.

14.4. ad iugendam mecum amicitiam: with the purpose of a friendship being joined with me.

16.3. ad pacem petendam: for the purpose of peace being sought.

16.3. ad ipsum senatum regendum: for the purpose of the senate itself being directed.

16.15. ad pacem petendam: for the purpose of peace being sought.

18.2. ad inferenda in hostes signa: with the purpose of charging (lit. their standards being carried towards) the enemy.

18.12. ad augendum pavorem ac tumultum: with the purpose of the panic and confusion being increased.

21.3. ad conducenda auxilia: with the purpose of auxiliary troops being hired.

26.2. ad res repetendas: with the purpose of these matters being redressed.

29.1. ad reficiendum ex iactatione maritima militem: for the purpose of his army being revived from the tossing of the sea.

30.3. ad pacem petendam: for the purpose of peace being sought.

30.14. ad tutandam Italiam: for the purpose of Italy being defended.

31.7. ad pacem petendam: for the purpose of peace being solicited.

34.4. ad pellendum hostem: for the purpose of the enemy being repelled.

36.6. ad contemplandum Carthaginis situm: with the purpose of the site of Carthage being surveyed.

36.10. ad delendam Carthaginem: to the purpose of Carthage being destroyed.

37.7. ad dissuadendam pacem: with the purpose of the peace being opposed.

43.9. ad foedus feriendum: with the purpose of the treaty being sanctioned (lit. being struck).

45.2. ad habendos honores: for the purpose of honour being done (to him).

d. In the Genitive Case, qualifying a noun in the objective genitive (4):

1.10. non temporis sed rei gerendae fine: not with a limit of time but of a task being undertaken.

3.4. Syphacis … reconciliandi curam: his concern for Syphax being reconciled.

9.5. rara mentio pacis, frequentior legatorum … mittendorum: seldom is there a mention of peace, more frequently (a mention) of delegates being sent.

12.20. ne quid relinqueret integri … ipsi Scipioni consulendi: in order that he might not leave anything fresh to Scipio himself to be resolved.

e. In the Genitive Case, qualifying a noun in the possessive genitive (1):

9.4. quae diutinae obsidionis tolerandae sunt: those things which belong to a lengthy siege being endured.

f. In the Genitive Case, qualifying a noun preceding the preposition ‘causa’, and denoting purpose (2):

36.6 (x2). non tam noscendi … quam deprimendi hostis causa: not so much for the sake of the enemy being reconnoitred as (for the sake of it) being humiliated.

g. In the Dative case, attached to a noun in the dative of purpose or action contemplated (5):

6.3. quae restinguendo igni forent: such things as might be suitable for a fire being extinguished.

8.1. Uticae oppugnandae intentum: intent upon Utica being invested.

12.18. data dextra … obligandae fidei: his right-hand having been given for his faith to be pledged.

24.4 (x2). circumeundis Italiae urbibus … noscendisque singularum causis: to the purpose of the cities of Italy being visited and the cases of each individual (city) being enquired into.

h. In the Ablative Case, qualifying a noun in the instrumental ablative (1):

13.6. hostis mactandis: by victims being sacrificed.

i. In the Ablative case, qualifying a noun preceded by the preposition ‘cum’ (1):

7.10. cum manu haudquaquam contemnenda: with a force by no means to be despised.

j. In the Ablative case, qualifying a noun preceded by the preposition ‘in’ (7):

18.15. in restituenda pugna: during the battle being restored.

21.1. in retinendis iis: with regard to them being held back.

30.22. in pace iugenda: in a peace being made.

34.1. in re gerenda: in respect of the battle being fought.

35.10. in pace impetranda: in respect of peace being obtained.

38.7 (x2). in comparanda deducendaque classe: with regard to his fleet being made ready and being launched.


As can be readily seen from the catalogue of 41 gerunds and 79 gerundives listed above, Livy makes a thorough and widespread use of these grammatical usages, which are so intrinsic to Latin literature, in Book XXX of his History. In the case of Gerunds, this usage is mainly restricted to objective genitives and instrumental ablatives, which are the two applications where the Gerund can take an object in classical Latin. His one exception to this general rule is highlighted in section A. 4 above.

As is usually the case with Latin authors, Livy’s employment of the Gerundive is more common; indeed, there are approximately twice as many Gerundives as Gerunds in Book XXX. There are 29 instances of a Gerundive being used to denote necessity, obligation or propriety (i.e. “must”, “ought”, or “should”), the quintessential use of the Gerundive, although his use of the impersonal construction, so frequently used by many authors is restricted to only 6 cases. He makes particular use of the formula “ad” + noun + Gerundive to express purpose, which he uses 28 times, and the phrase “ad pacem petendam”, i.e. “for the purpose of peace being sought”, actually appears four times. Indeed, he makes widespread use of the Gerundive as an attributive adjective, i.e. where it is attached directly to the noun as opposed to being used predicatively as part of the complement of the verb “esse”, “to be”. In total the Gerundive appears 53 times in Book XXX as an attributive adjective. It is in these instances that the phenomenon of “Gerundive attraction” occurs, i.e. where the Gerundive, and the noun which it qualifies, takes the case that the Gerund would have had, if it had been, or could have been, used instead. In most of the instances where Livy uses the Gerundive, it appears in the Oblique Cases, and thus has no, or very little force of necessity, obligation or propriety. In such cases, when one is undertaking a literal translation, it is easiest to translate a Gerundive as though it were a Present Participle Passive, which usage indeed it seems to have had in early Latin (see section B. 3 above).

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