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The Use Of The Imperfect To Express Completed States Of Affairs. The Imperfect As A Marker Of Narrative Cohesion

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Chapter Summary

Often the aspectual opposition between present and aorist stems of the verb in Ancient Greek is described as follows: the present stem has an imperfective value, expressing 'a not-completed state of affairs', whereas the aorist stem has a perfective or confective value, expressing 'a completed state of affairs'. The correctness of this description may be tested when in a narrative a verb is accompanied by an adverbial expression of duration. If this expression of duration indicates the total length of a state of affairs, we should have an aorist stem, whereas, when it does not indicate a total duration, we should have a present stem. This chapter argues that this use of the present stem reinforces the narrative cohesion and is somehow related to the structure of the narrative. Herodotus' Histories contain a lot of adverbial expressions of duration in a narrative context.

Keywords: Herodotus' Histories; imperfective value; narrative cohesion; perfective value

10.1163/ej.9789004174726.i-284.61
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