Horace wrote the line brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio in De Arte Poetica Liber. I want to use the latter half of the phrase, obscurus fio, as a song title but I'd like it to be in the form of I am becoming obscure rather than just I become obscure. Would a different verb be used, or a different form such as factus? I'm not sure what to do with fio because it's irregular. I assume what I'm looking for is a present participle.

1 Answer 1


The present tense includes both general action and progressive action. To say "I am becoming obscure," you would still use the present tense. Using the present participle plus esse is not a Classical equivalent to a present progressive in English.

Also, fio doesn't have a present participle, since it is functionally the passive of facio. See you can see the forms it does have here.

  • If there were to be such a present participle, it would be fiens, but that is nowhere to be found in the extant literature. So indeed there is no participle like this. In some rare cases faciundus might work, but not here.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 16:47
  • Interesting! So in essence, fio can be taken as both I become and I am becoming?
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 16:54
  • 1
    @Adam Yes, and that is in no way unique to this verb. The best general translation of "I'm singing" is cano.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 17:12
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta spot on! the TLL entry does mention at least four occurrences of fiens (under formae rariores terminationis activae), albeit all in the grammatical treatises publikationen.badw.de/en/thesaurus/lemmata#41444 or is it seven there?
    – Alex B.
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 19:50
  • There is in English a technical word “fientive” used to describe some verb forms, though it may formed from a hypothetical fiens (fient-); Hittite has a fientive suffix -ešš- used to form verbs with the meaning “to become ...” or “to turn ...”. . The point is that the meaning is clear enough, whether or not the form ever existed in Latin.
    – MPW
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 12:45

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