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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Historical Present

469. The Present in lively narrative is often used for the Historical Perfect:—

    affertur nūntius Syrācūsās; curritur ad praetōrium; Cleomenēs in pūblico esse nōn audet; inclūdit sē domī; (Verr. 5.92), the news is brought to Syracuse; they run to headquarters; Cleomenes does not venture to be abroad; he shuts himself up at home.

Note— This usage, common in all languages, comes from imagining past events as going on before our eyes (repraesentātiō, § 585. b. N.).

For the Present Indicative with dum, while, see § 556.

a. The present may be used for the perfect in a summary enumeration of past events (Annalistic Present):—

    Rōma interim crēscit Albae ruīnīs: duplicātur cīvium numerus; Caelius additur urbī mōns (Liv. 1.30), Rome meanwhile grows as a result of the fall of Alba: the number of citizens is doubled; the Cœlian hill is added to the town

 

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