perfect tense followed by present tense question

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perfect tense followed by present tense question

Post by Smythe » Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:01 pm


I was reading this novella (Daimon) and then saw two examples of what I thought was an odd juxtaposition of tenses. I am familiar with the sequence of tenses as far as the subjunctive is concerned. I don't think that my question is related, though. Here are the sentences.

Post paucôs diês, plûrês serpentês vîsae sunt. Três puerôs necâvêrunt dum in aquâ prope lîtus natant. Posterô diê, serpêns sorôrem Daimonis dêvorâvit dum in lîtore prope aquam ambulat. Populus perterritus erat.

I would think that the underlined words should be in the imperfect. They are obviously not. In the notes on the novella, they indicate that natant and ambulat should be translated as imperfect (were swimming / was walking).

What grammatical rule am I missing?

Thanks for your help.

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Re: perfect tense followed by present tense question

Post by bedwere » Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:59 pm

I would have written natābant and ambulābat or used the present participle, although there are examples in L&S
In the praes. histor.: “dum haec loquimur, interea loci ad macellum ubi advenimus, etc.,” Ter. Eun. 2, 2, 24; id. Phorm. 5, 9, 18; Cic. de Or. 2, 4, 15; id. Div. in Caec. 17, 56: “dum haec geruntur, Caesari nuntiatum est, etc.,” Caes. B. G. 1, 46, 1; cf. “these forms of transition,” id. ib. 3, 17, 1; 4, 32, 1; 4, 34, 3; 5, 22, 1; 6, 7, 1; 7, 57, 1; id. B. C. 1, 56, 1; 2, 1, 1 et saep. dum ea conquiruntur et conferuntur, nocte intermissa circiter hominum milia VI ad Rhenum contenderunt, Caes. B. G. 1, 27, 4; cf. id. B. C. 1, 37, 1; id. ib. 1, 36, 1; Liv. 21, 7, 1; Verg. G. 4, 559.—

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Re: perfect tense followed by present tense question

Post by Aetos » Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:04 pm

I think this is what you're looking for:
Allen & Greenough, Para.556 ... ythp%3D556

"Dum regularly takes the Present Indicative to denote continued action in past time"

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Re: perfect tense followed by present tense question

Post by talus » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:52 pm

Some grammarians make fine distinctions in the use of dum. Gildersleeve and Lodge distinguish between dum that is in complete coextension in time with its main clause and dum that is in partial coextension. Two examples of these two: "While it was raining, I had my umbrella up" and "While it was raining, I ran to my car." G&L note that only dum is used in partial coextension and that it always employs the Historical Present.
But if we are keeping things simple and are taking dum in our sentence simply to mean a temporal event of duration
in partial overlap with its main verb, then it is difficult to see any simultaneity between walking along the shore and being devoured. Rather, one thing happens and then another, with no overlap. So to recognize the complication here we turn to G&L and the OLD.
G&L 568, Remark, state that dum is often causal. However "causal" alone, in our case here, is too strong. The presence of the girl on the shore is not the cause but a contributing factor.
OLD 3a for dum states that dum indicates "a situation in the course of which a punctual event occurs" and has the meaning "during the time that." OLD 4 for dum states that dum can be used "where the action, etc.,
of the main vb. is the result, logical concomitant, or sim. of that contained in the dum cl." and has the meaning of "in or by (doing something)." So we can translate the clause either as "at the time when she was walking by the shore..." or as "in (or by) her walking by the shore..." Or we can allow that the double sense of both meanings is in play.

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