The regular perfect them form for "he went" is iit. In an answer to this question about two short versus one long vowel, TKR mentions that this form can be contracted to īt. In a text without macrons it looks exactly like the present form.

Are there attestations of it in classical Latin where

  1. it is clearly perfect tense instead of present, or
  2. the vowel is necessarily long, or
  3. perhaps even both?

Given that the present tense can be used for past events in Latin, the first point requires using the context. Perhaps verbs in similar position on both sides are in unambiguous perfect form, so it is reasonable to assume it perfect by analogy.

The only way I can see to argue the second option is scansion. There is a remote chance that the t could be long instead of the i as is the case with hoc, but I find that unlikely.

If someone wants to approach with brute force, here is a list of attestations of it.

1 Answer 1


I found two examples of it followed by a vowel but scanning long in all of Catullus, Ovid, and Vergil. Here are examples with context to show that perfect is likely:

Cuspis Echionio primum contorta lacerto
vana fuit truncoque dedit leve vulnus acerno;
proxima, si nimiis mittentis viribus usa
non foret, in tergo visa est haesura petito:
longius it; auctor teli Pagasaeus Iason.
(Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses 8.349)

Dum trepidant, it hasta Tago per tempus utrumque
stridens traiectoque haesit tepefacta cerebro.
(Publius Vergilius Maro, Aeneis 9.418)

In the first example the length of the syllable could be argued to be due to the pause (caesura and semicolon), but it is a plausible case of īt anyway. The second one is clearer.

For comparison, Ovid (Fasti 6.117) and Vergil (Aeneid 1.376 and 2.174) do use the perfect iit as well, but Catullus does not. All these observations together make a decent case in favor of īt being a possible contraction of iit.

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