A TEI Project

Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Special Uses of the Perfect

475. The Perfect is sometimes used of a general truth, especially with negatives (Gnomic Perfect):—

    quī studet contingere mētam multa tulit fēcitque (Hor. A. P. 412), he who aims to reach the goal, first bears and does many things.

    nōn aeris acervus et aurī dēdūxit corpore febrīs (id. Ep. 1.2.47), the pile of brass and gold removes not fever from the frame.

Note— The gnomic perfect strictly refers to past time; but its use implies that something which never did happen in any known case never does happen, and never will (cf. the English “Faint heart never won fair lady”; or, without a negative that what has once happened will always happen under similar circumstances.

a. The Perfect is often used in expressions containing or implying a negation, where in affirmation the Imperfect would be preferred:—

    dīcēbat melius quam scrīpsit Hortēnsius (Or. 132), Hortensius spoke better than he wrote. [Here the negative is implied in the comparison: compare the use of quisquam, ūllus, etc. (§§ 311, 312), and the French ne after comparatives and superlatives.]

XML File