Cambridge Ecce Romani Latin for the New Millennium Wheelock Disce Allen & Greenough None of the above

Reading Eutropius

Eutropius, when he set out to write his Breviarium Historiae Romanae, was writing a handbook of Roman history. It was intended for provincial governors and military leaders, who had to quickly learn an overview of Roman history in order to mix with the leaders from Rome, the heart of the Empire. Because of his audience, Eutropius writes in clear, standard classical Latin. He uses most common grammatical constructions, and his vocabulary is relatively simple and consists primarily of the most common words of Latin.

Vocabulary Review:

Here is a worksheet to review/introduce the vocabulary themes most useful in this text (i.e. fighting words and large numbers). It also incorporates them in sentences of increasing complexity modelled on those to be found in the text.

Important Points of Grammar:

Ablative Absolutes:

This construction consists of a noun or pronoun with a participle (or an adjective or second noun) in order to define the time or circumstance of an action.
In these selections from the Breviarum, Eutropius generally uses ablative absolutes temporally. He frequently uses them to express a date.
For example, Breviarium IV.26.1, Eutropius writes,

    P. Scipione Nasica et L. Calpurnio Bestia consulibus, Iugurthae, Numidarum regi, bellum inlatum est.
    "When Publius Scipio Nasica and Lucius Calpurnius Bestia were consuls, war was waged against Jugurtha, king of the Numidians."


Cities, small islands, domus, humus, and rus do not use the ablative to denote place where. Instead, they appear in the locative.

    For the first and second declension nouns, the locative is the singular genitive form (-ae/-i). For the third declension noun, the form is the same as the dative/ablative (-e).

These nouns express place to which with an ablative without a preposition, and they express place from which with an accusative without a preposition.

Per + Accusative:

In order to express agency, i.e., the person who does the action, instead of using an ablative with the preposition ab Eutropius instead uses per plus an accusative (sometimes).

For example, Breviarium IV.27.4, Eutropius writes,

    belloque terminum posuit capto Iugurtha per quaestorem suum Cornelium Sullam
    "and, when Jugurtha had been captured, he put an end to the war through the quaestor, Cornelius Sulla"


In addition to the necessarily impersonal verbs (licet, decet, oportet, etc.) Eutropius frequently uses intransitive verbs (ones which do not take a direct object) impersonally. In this use, we find the 3rd person singular passive form with no subject, but often with a/ab and an agent. These can be tricky to render in English,

For example, Breviarium V.3.3, Eutropius writes,
    A Romanis bene contra eos pugnatum est a C. Mario.
    "It was fought well against them by the Romans (and) by Gaius Marius."