"I want to withdraw from society for a month."

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Hi, again.
I would like to know what Latin case to use for a period of time within a subordinate clause (I know...there goes Mike with his "case" problems again). Specifically, if I wanted to express that: Mēmet [mēnsis] ab societāte sēclūdere volō/"I want to withdraw from society for a month", what case would I wish to use for mēnsis? My inclination is to use the ablative, mēnse, rather than the dative, mēnsī, since English "for" in this instance does not indicate the beneficiary of verbal action. Am I correct in this? (Please feel free to make comments, and to render any other suggestions about my mode of expression here.) And, thanks!
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Wouldn't it be accusative to express a duration?
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Well, I would not have expected that. It doesn't seem to be a direct object; I would have thought mēmet to be the object in this case...is the "time", the "duration", being acted upon by the verb? I would like to understand this better.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
Non omnis accusativus est objectum directum. :) Si francogallice scis, de usu hujus casu in libro "Syntaxe latine" ab Ernout & Meillet scripto, legere potes.

Ceterum, claritatis gratiâ "ad mensem" dixerim, cf. Forcellini AD A) III) 1.

I can rewrite this in English, if you prefer.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
Not every accusative is a direct object. :) If you know French, you can read about the use of this case in "Syntaxe latine" by Ernout & Meillet.

Anyway, for the sake of clarity, perhaps I'd say "ad mensem", cf. Forcellini AD A) III) 1.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Thank you, Q. I have forgotten any French that I learned in school, but a text dealing purely with syntax would be invaluable. I wonder if it is available in translation?
Francogallicus is a new word for me. Sometimes it is strange to see how things were named in medieval times and later.
After a cursory look, Forcellini seems a bit like Gaffiot, but perhaps more thoroughly researched.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
There is Woodcock's A New Latin Syntax, but I'm not familiar with it.

Standard uses of cases are covered in any grammar, e. g. in Allen & Greenough. Ernout and Meillet targeted scholars, so they provide a reasoning how these uses could come about and the like. In particular, they argue that the idea of transitivity was a fairly late development, and before that the accusative was the case of the object primarily associated with an action: urbem statuo "I'm building with respect to the city", eo Romam "I'm go with respect to Rome". However, when urbem statuo became to be perceived as "I'm building the city", other uses of the accusative became secondary.
 

Serenus

legātus armisonus
Well, I would not have expected that. It doesn't seem to be a direct object; I would have thought mēmet to be the object in this case...is the "time", the "duration", being acted upon by the verb? I would like to understand this better.
Accusatives of duration are regular adverbials, and they can perfectly co-occur with accusative direct objects.

Quattuor menses obsidionem Same sustinuit.
(The city of) Same resisted the siege (obsidiōnem, acc.) for four months (quattuor mēnsēs, acc.).
(Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 38.29)

They can also occur with passives and whatnot. Really they're just plain regular adverbials.

Hi, post eorum obitum, multos annos a finitimis exagitati, ...
These people, after their (allies') destruction, harassed by their neighbouring peoples for many years, ...
(Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico 2.29)
(exagitātī 'harassed' is a plural passive participle modifying 'these (people)', here taking multōs annōs 'many years' as the duration)

Duration can also be expressed by per 'through' + accusative, as in, per multōs annōs.
 

rothbard

Civis Illustris
Staff member
I think I have seen the ablative used to indicate duration a couple of times, but I can't think of an example. Bennett's New Latin Grammar gives an example here:
bienniō prōsperās rēs habuit, for two years he had a prosperous administration.
 

Agrippa

Civis Illustris
biennio prosperas res habuit
biennio] perhaps, so to speak, seen as a point in time at which something happened, i.e. without chief aspect of duration.
Cf. Cicero, de oratore 3, 138: itaque hic ... quadraginta annis praefuit Athenis et urbanis eodem tempore et bellicis rebus.
 
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