Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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The perfect denotes a completed action the effects of which still continue in the present: τὰ οἰκήματα ᾠκοδόμηται the rooms have been constructed (their construction is finished) X. O. 9.2, τὰ_ς πόλεις αὐτῶν παρῄρηται he has taken away (and still holds) their cities D. 9.26, ὑπείληφα I have formed (hold) the opinion 18. 123, βεβούλευμαι I have (am) resolved S. El. 947, τί βουλεύεσθον ποιεῖν; οὐδὲν, ἔφη ὁ Χαρμίδης, ἀλλὰ βεβουλεύμεθα what are you conspiring to do? Nothing, said Charmides; we have already conspired P. Charm. 176c.

a. The effects of a completed action are seen in the resulting present state. The state may be that of the subject or of the object: ἐφοβήθην, καὶ ἔτι καὶ νῦν τεθορύβημαι I was struck with fear, and even at the present moment am still in a state of agitation Aes. 2.4, οἱ πολέμιοι τὰ_ς σπονδὰ_ς λελύκα_σιν the enemy have broken the truce (which is now broken) X. A. 3.2.10.


Perfect with Present Meaning.—When the perfect marks the enduring result rather than the completed act, it may often be translated by the present.

Thus, κέκλημαι (have received a name) am called, my name is, κέκτημαι (have acquired) possess, μέμνημαι (have recalled) remember, τέθνηκα (have passed away) am dead, εἴθισμαι (have accustomed myself) am accustomed, ἠμφίεσμαι (have clothed myself in) have on, πέποιθα (have put confidence) trust, ἕστηκα (have set myself) stand, βέβηκα (have stepped) stand and am gone, ἔγνωκα (have recognized) know, πέφυ_κα (natus sum) am by nature, οἶδα (have found out) know.

a. These perfecta praesentia do not in nature differ from other perfects.


‘Intensive’ Perfect.—Many perfects seem to denote an action rather than a state resulting from an action, and to be equivalent to strengthened presents. These are often called intensive perfects.

Such are: verbs of the senses (δέδορκα gaze, πέφρι_κα shudder), of sustained sound (κέκρα_γα bawl, λέληκα shout, βέβρυ_χα roar), of emotion (πεφόβημαι am filled with alarm, γέγηθα am glad, μέμηλε cares for), of gesture (κέχηνα keep the mouth agape), and many others (σεσί_γηκα am still, etc.).

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a. But most if not all of the verbs in question may be regarded as true perfects, i.e. they denote a mental or physical state resulting from the accomplishment of the action; thus, πέφρι_κα I have shuddered and am now in a state of shuddering.

b. Certain verbs tend to appear in the perfect for emphasis: τέθνηκα am dead, ἀπόλωλα perish, πέπρα_κα sell (have sold).


Empiric Perfect.—The perfect may set forth a general truth expressly based on a fact of experience: ἡ ἀταξία_ πολλοὺς ἤδη ἀπολώλεκεν lack of discipline ere now has been the ruin of many X. A. 3.1.38. Cp. cross1930.


Perfect of Dated Past Action.—The perfect is sometimes used of a past action whose time is specifically stated: ὕβρισμαι τότε I was insulted on that occasion D. 21.7. This use approaches that of the aorist.


Perfect for Future Perfect.—The perfect may be used vividly for the future perfect to anticipate an action not yet done: κἂ_ν τοῦτο νι_κῶμεν, πάνθ' ἡμῖν πεποίηται and if we conquer in that quarter, everything has been (will have been) accomplished by us X. A. 1.8.12.

a. Especially with the phrase τὸ ἐπί τινι, the perfect anticipates the certain occurrence of an event: τὸ ἐπὶ τούτῳ ἀπολώλαμεν for all he could do, we had perished X. A. 6.6.23.


In subordinate clauses, the action of the perfect is usually (a) contemporaneous, but may be (b) antecedent to that of the main verb. The context alone decides in which sense the perfect is to be taken. (a) οἱ δὲ θεράποντες, ἐπειδὴ ἐς ἀντίπαλα καθεστήκαμεν, αὐτομολοῦσι while our attendants desert, now that we have been brought down to a level with the Syracusans T. 7.13. (b) ἅ σοι τύχη κέχρηκε, ταῦτ' ἀφείλετο Fortune has taken back what she has lent you Men. fr. 598.

On the epistolary perfect see cross1942 a.

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Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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