Resources that explain the aorist tenses?

ajp120

Member
Does anyone know of any resources that explain the aorist tenses? I found some, but the explain it in Greek, which obviously makes it more difficult to understand.
 

gedwimere

Active Member
What exactly is the problem? Doesn't every Greek grammar explain those?

See for example this one:
https://archive.org/details/agreekgrammarfo02smytgoog
It should contain what you need. For example, see pages 106-224 for the formation of all tenses, including the aorists, pages 429-484 for the usage of aorist indicative, and so on.
 

Godmy

Sīmia Illūstris
As long as you understand the Latin perfect tense, you more or less understand the aorist tense (at least besides the infinitives/imperatives/subjunctives and optatives). Because it's more or less exactly it and in turn the Greek perfect tense is the one that you'd unambigously see in classical Latin quite rarely (that's the 'present perfect' thing), so you don't need to pain yourself with that one as much.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
As long as you understand the Latin perfect tense, you more or less understand the aorist tense (at least besides the infinitives/imperatives/subjunctives and optatives).
In other words most of its potential usages. :p
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Actually, there's nothing that I find more confusing about switching back and forth from Latin to Greek than the aorist. It doesn't map nicely onto anything in Latin, and (for anything but indicative) it's used in quite a different manner than the Latin perfect.
 

Godmy

Sīmia Illūstris
Yeah :) I in fact make the aorist vs. present potential usages distinction in my language all the time (it's mandatory) and even in the indicative :D Like you can't use in my language "legere" if you need to use "perlegere" and lots of other things (I mean for us the prefixes also change the grammatical aspect - but I don't want to get into that now), but this imperative/infinitive translates very very nicely to the Ancient Greek from a Slavic language. Now, on the other hand, most Slavic languages don't have these historical past tenses (we have just one past tense + aspectual differentiation through various sometimes hardly predictable prefixes), so that's a problem, but for example Bulgarian still has it (all the historical past tenses just like a Romance language would have) and in addition it also has all these aspects / active aspectual differentiation in what is ambiguous in Latin or English, so that's a great starting point as a language to acquire Ancient Greek :) (on the other hand they lost the infinitives, which almost none other Slavic language did, hehe).

But I haven't really realized that I make this distinction in my language until I was forced to translate that concept to a conscious level due to Greek... and then suddenly English and Latin seemed a little bit more vague :p (although not really, since one can contextually obviously do even without this distinction, as we can see - and in the same way a default aspect for each verb is usually predictable based on its meaning).
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Actually, there's nothing that I find more confusing about switching back and forth from Latin to Greek than the aorist. It doesn't map nicely onto anything in Latin, and (for anything but indicative) it's used in quite a different manner than the Latin perfect.
Maybe it can help to think that the distinction between aorist and present in infinitives, imperatives, subjunctives and optatives is the same as or at least very similar to that between perfect and imperfect in Latin, but transferred into more tenses and moods.

That's kind of how it is, isn't it? A distinction between an on-going action and a complete one.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Well, not really -- I mean that it isn't that simple, since there are many circumstances where (for example) a dependent infinitive or an imperative can be either present, or aorist, and all that the difference indicates is whether the action is viewed as ongoing or as a single discrete action.

Whereas in Latin, the choice of whether to use a present or a perfect infinitive isn't dictated by aspect in that way, but rather by whether it has occurred prior to the main verb or not.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Re-read my post. I said the diffence between perfect and imperfect (between e.g. fuit and erat), not between present and perfect infinitives (fuisse and esse).
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Re-read my post. I said the diffence between perfect and imperfect (between e.g. fuit and erat), not between present and perfect infinitives (fuisse and esse).
Ah. Well, I suppose that's true in a vaguely theoretical sort of way, but it isn't of that much practical help since one doesn't have imperfect infinitives/imperatives in Latin, or anything else that can actually be used in most of the ways that the Greek aorist is.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Well, I said it was the same kind of distinction transferred into more tenses and moods. I thought maybe it could help to see things this way — that it's the same or a very similar distinction as in Latin but used in more varied contexts — but if it doesn't, well.
 

ajp120

Member
So the aorist tense is defaulted to the prefect past?
 

Godmy

Sīmia Illūstris
I think Pacifica has a point there. Imagine that you transfer your target imperative of infinitive into a finite indicative past tense: which one suits better, aorist or imperfect? And if you don't do there too many mind tricks, you should come to the expected answer also aspect wise.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I think Pacifica has a point there. Imagine that you transfer your target imperative of infinitive into a finite indicative past tense: which one suits better, aorist or imperfect? And if you don't do there too many mind tricks, you should come to the expected answer also aspect wise.
It's not so much that I have difficulties dealing with the aorist per se, but that switching back to Latin disorients me (in that I find myself reading, e.g. a perfect infinitive and my brain automatically treats it as an aorist infinitive, producing a result that doesn't make any sense in the context.)

Going from Latin to Greek isn't half so difficult, somehow.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I wonder if we have any record of whether Greek and Latin speakers in ancient times found one another's languages difficult to learn and/or confusing, and if so, which one tended to be viewed as more difficult (probably Greek since it has features Latin doesn't, but that's just a guess.)
 

ajp120

Member
Temporally, what things happen in reality in the aorist? How do you conceptualize aorist time as an abstraction?
 

Godmy

Sīmia Illūstris
It's not so much that I have difficulties dealing with the aorist per se, but that switching back to Latin disorients me (in that I find myself reading, e.g. a perfect infinitive and my brain automatically treats it as an aorist infinitive, producing a result that doesn't make any sense in the context.)

Going from Latin to Greek isn't half so difficult, somehow.
Ah, yes, of course, I had understood that one point from you - no problem, I was just meditating on the Pacifica's idea...

I wonder if we have any record of whether Greek and Latin speakers in ancient times found one another's languages difficult to learn and/or confusing, and if so, which one tended to be viewed as more difficult (probably Greek since it has features Latin doesn't, but that's just a guess.)
I guess Greek, but then those few Greeks (and I would think there were more of them in the classical age of Rome) who wanted to deal with Latin written resources and literature would feel much more confused in it than Romans in Greek - since the old truth would apply to them all the same: the Latin noun phrases (and often broken phrases) make just the overall Latin syntax much more confusing to intake for a foreigner - no matter the easier morphology. But then the easier morphology means also more meanings encoded only in the context which sometimes helps less than more unless your language is heavily analytical as English or Chinese and uses a bunch of different indicators.

Temporally, what things happen in reality in the aorist? How do you conceptualize aorist time as an abstraction?
If we're still talking about aorist as the past indicative tense (because there are two issues to deal with in learning the aorist: 1) its use as a normal indicative past tense 2) its use in the infinitive/imperative/subjunctive/optative which is a DIFFERENT issue grammatically and has little to none to do with aorist being a normal past tense in the indicative) then the idea is the same as of the Latin perfect. I once made a picture helping a student with the idea of Perfect and Imperfect, so let me share it here:

perfect-vs-imperfect2_godmy.PNG

This image was supposed to illustrate that the beginning and end is [mostly] never either explicitly or implicitly mentioned with the imperfect, while the perfect mentiones at least the beginning, but most usually both the beginning and end. The blurred edges mean that the beginning and end is unknown for the imperfect, while known for the perfect in the statement about the past.
 

ajp120

Member
Which color represents the aorist in the picture?
 
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