A Latin Definition of ‘Deponent’ (Donatus)

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Stephen Carlson
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A Latin Definition of ‘Deponent’ (Donatus)

Post by Stephen Carlson »

I came across the following definition of deponent verbs by Donatus, Ars Minor (4th cen. CE):
Deponentia quae sunt? Quae in ‘r’ desinunt, ut passiva, sed ea dempta Latina non sunt, ut ‘luctor,’ ‘loquor’.
What are the deponents? Those which end in ‘r’, like the passives, but when removed are not Latin, like ‘luctor’, ‘loquor’.
In other words, those verbs with ‘passive’-only morphology in the present. There’s nothing about ‘active in meaning, passive in form.’
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia
Barry Hofstetter
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: A Latin Definition of ‘Deponent’ (Donatus)

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Stephen Carlson wrote: June 11th, 2021, 8:09 pm I came across the following definition of deponent verbs by Donatus, Ars Minor (4th cen. CE):
Deponentia quae sunt? Quae in ‘r’ desinunt, ut passiva, sed ea dempta Latina non sunt, ut ‘luctor,’ ‘loquor’.
What are the deponents? Those which end in ‘r’, like the passives, but when removed are not Latin, like ‘luctor’, ‘loquor’.
In other words, those verbs with ‘passive’-only morphology in the present. There’s nothing about ‘active in meaning, passive in form.’
No, because Donatus was not interested in semantics as much as morphology at this point. Deponents in Latin are passive in form for all finite forms. Exceptions are semi-deponents, such as audeo and augeo (which use passive forms in the perfect system), and deponents have active present and future participles. When I learned that fact as a high school student, I asked my latin teacher "Does that mean the active forms are translated as passives?" To which she replied, "Logical, but wrong." Dare I mention that nearly all deponents in Latin would be perfect candidates for middles in Greek, such as utor, "use," and fruor, "enjoy..."
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
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