The Historical Present of Atelic and Durative Verbs in Greek Tragedy

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Among modern scholars of ancient Greek it is almost universally accepted that the historical present is only used for (telic) events and not for (atelic) states and activities. A survey of the extant complete tragedies shows that this view is untenable: there are passages where static verbs like κeimai 'lie' and eucdw 'sleep' are used in the historical present and where the historical present describes a state or activity which is extended in time. On the one hand this shows that punctuality or decisiveness cannot be regarded as the basic function of the historical present; on the other it leads to new interpretations of a number of passages in Greek tragedy.Adema, S. M., Discourse Modes and Bases. A Study of the Use of Tenses in Vergil's Aeneid, j Diss. VU University Amsterdam 2008.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-233
Number of pages27
Issue number156
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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