A TEI Project

Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

COMPLETED ACTION/ PERFECT TENSE/ Perfect Definite and Historical Perfect

473. The Perfect denotes an action either as now completed (Perfect Definite), or as having taken place at some undefined point of past time (Historical or Aoristic Perfect).

The Perfect Definite corresponds in general to the English Perfect with have; the Historical Perfect to the English Preterite (or Past):

(1) ut ego fēcī, quī Graecās litterās senex didicī (Cat. M. 26), as I have done, who have learned Greek in my old age.

diūturnī silentī fīnem hodiernus diēs attulit (Marc. 1), this day has put an end to my long-continued silence.

(2) tantum bellum extrēmā hieme apparāvit, ineunte vēre suscēpit, mediā aestāte cōnfēcit (Manil. 35), so great a war he made ready for at the end of winter, undertook in early spring, and finished by midsummer.

Note— The distinction between these two uses is represented by two forms in most other Indo-European languages, but was almost if not wholly lost to the minds of the Romans. It must be noticed, however, on account of the marked distinction in English and also because of certain differences in the sequence of tenses.

a. The Indefinite Present, denoting a customary action or a general truth (§ 465), often has the Perfect in a subordinate clause referring to time antecedent to that of the main clause:—

    quī in compedibus corporis semper fuērunt, etiam cum solūtī sunt tardius ingrediuntur (Tusc. 1.75), they who have always been in the fetters of the body , even when released move more slowly.

    simul ac mihi collibitum est, praestō est imāgō (N. D. 1.108), as soon as I have taken a fancy, the image is before my eyes.

    haec morte effugiuntur, etiam sī nōn ēvēnērunt, tamen quia possunt ēvenīre (Tusc. 1.86), these things are escaped by death even if they have not [yet] happened, because they still may happen.

Note— This use of the perfect is especially common in the protasis of General Conditions in present time (§ 518. b).

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