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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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4435. LANGUAGE (Greek), Ablative case in.—
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4435. LANGUAGE (Greek), Ablative case in.—

I owe you particular thanks for the
copy of your translation of Buttman's Greek
Grammar. * * * A cursory view of it
promises me a rich mine of valuable criticism.
I observe he goes with the herd of grammarians
in denying an Ablative case to the Greek language.
I cannot concur with him in that, but
think with the Messrs, of Port Royal who admit
an Ablative. And why exclude it? Is it because
the Dative and Ablative in Greek are
always of the same form? Then there is no
Ablative to the Latin plurals, because in them,
as in Greek, these cases are always in the same
form. The Greeks recognized the Ablative
under the appellation of the πτωσις αφαιρετιχη,
which I have met with and noted from
some of the scholiasts, without recollecting
where. Stephens, Scapula, Hederic acknowledge
it as one of the significations of the word
αφαιρεμαυκος. That the Greeks used it can
not be denied. For one of multiplied examples
which may be produced take the following from
the Hippolytus of Euripides: “ειπε τω τροπω,
δικης Επαισεν αυτου ροπτρου
,” “dice
quo modo justitiæ clava percussit eum” “Quo
are Ablatives, then why not τω τροπω?
And translating it into English, should we use
the Dative [285] or Ablative preposition? It is not
perhaps easy to define very critically what constitutes
a case in the declension of nouns. All
agree as to the Nominative that it is simply
the name of the thing. If we admit that a distinct
case is constituted by any accident or
modification which changes the relation which
that bears to the actors or action of the sentence,
we must agree to the six cases at least;
because for example, to a thing, and from a
thing are very different accidents to the thing.
It may be said that if every distinct accident or
change of relation constitutes a different case,
then there are in every language as many cases
as there are prepositions; for this is the peculiar
office of the preposition. But because we do
not designate by special names all the cases to
which a noun is liable, is that a reason why we
should throw away half of those we have, as is
done by those grammarians who reject all
cases, but the Nominative, Genitive, and Accusative,
and in a less degree by those also
who reject the Ablative alone? As pushing
the discrimination of all the possible cases to
extremities leads us to nothing useful or practicable,
I am contented with the old six cases,
familiar to every cultivated language, ancient
and modern, and well understood by all. I
acknowledge myself at the same time not an
adept in the metaphysical speculations of Grammar.
By analyzing too minutely we often reduce
our subject to atoms, of which the mind
loses its hold.—
To Edward Everett. Washington ed. vii, 272.
(M. 1823)


See Buttman's Datives, p. 230, every one of
which I should consider as under the accident or relation
called Ablative, having no signification of approach
according to his definition of the Dative.—
Note by Jefferson.