a note on inquit:
it is an unresolved issue whether inquit ever existed as a perfect form and it has indeed been a moot point among grammarians past and present. the nature of the verb, an apparent third conjugation, would of course provide the 3rd pers. s. form inquit, as seen in its present tense counterpart. the puzzle, however, is lamentably difficult to solve.
my theory has always been that the existence of a perfect form could be salvaged by the existence of other persons of the perfect that do not have an identical inflection to the present (i.e., 1st, 2nd s., 2nd, 3rd pl.). such examples are rare and oft dubious paleographically.
at Cat.X.27 inquii is read by some editors. MS O reads inquid, i.e. inquit, which is of little sense in the passage. Ellis (1878) writes "ceteri praeter d [of inquid] inquii Parthenius in commentario, vulgo inquio d ex interpolatione, Ald.I.Guar.Mur.Stat." such a present tense could be supported by the inquit of l.25, but indeed that could well be perfect itself. furthermore, inquo is not a happy bunny at all and is seen but extremely rarely, eclipsed almost wholly by its defective and tyrannical overlord, inquam. [incidentally, the only verbs to end in -m in latin are inquam and sum (ignoring compounds, e.g. possum), the former being of subjunctive origin].
of far more benefit, to be sure, is a pleasant little passage from our man Tully: 'Sed abeo a mimis; tantum genus huius ridiculi insigni aliqua et nota re notari volo; est autem ex hoc genere illud, quod tu, Crasse, nuper ei, qui te rogasset, num tibi molestus esset futurus, si ad te bene ante lucem venisset, "tu vero" inquisti "molestus non eris." '
the more intuitive will have no doubt noticed the 2nd s. perf. form of the anteantepenultimate word. not only are there no lectiones varii of inquisti, but ecce, mirabile visu, quae sequuntur! '"Iubebis igitur te" inquit "suscitari?" ' - our dear friend inquit.
surely it cannot be that Cicero has inexplicably leapt from the perfect to the present? immo vero, it must indeed be the perfect form.
grammarians have always been torn between two schools: [face=SPIonic]oi9 me\n [/face]ignore this Ciceronian inquisti (and the possible Catullan inquii) and states that inquit, when used in clearly past contexts, acts as a historic present form, since its postpositive nature with direct speech ineluctably adds vividity to the passage - vividness being the nectar of historic presents (e.g. OLD, L&S, Cassell's, Morford, Smith, Allen & Greenough); [face=SPIonic] oi9 de\ [/face] regard inquit as exisiting separately in the perfect but with the same inflection (owing to the unavoidable nature of the verbs morphology), arguing - so i conjecture - that the scarcity of other forms of the perfect than the 2nd s. is due to the very rare instances where one states "I/you [have] said" and then introduces direct speech, oratio obliqua being a far more appealing (and rational) alternative (e.g. Roby, Kennedy, Gildersleeve, Sloman).
Dr. Meissner, of Pembroke, Cam., informed me that inquit is often used to translate Greek [face=SPIonic]h2[/face], the defective aorist meaning "he/she/it said", which i think acts as further evidence in favour of the perfect school.
i imagine that inquit did indeed exist in the perfect but once it became defective and was so acclimatised to its postpositive position sandwiched by oratio recta that Latin writers treated it as a stock present form, analagous to the Middle English "...quoth he".
any further thoughts on this?
maybe i should have posted this in a different forum?