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Is there a grammatical explanation for this pattern, which I have seen a couple times in writing? I'm guessing it comes from classical grammar.

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It is a recollective past, basically a kind of past tense. –  user54609 Feb 15 at 16:57
    
This is related to べき・べし/よい・よし, isn't it? –  Trevor Alexander Feb 15 at 23:36
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@TrevorAlexander For this particular 助動詞, き is the 終止形 and し is the 連体形. That's the opposite of what you get with classical adjective conjugation, where 〜し is the 終止形 and 〜き is the 連体形. –  snailboat Feb 16 at 4:34

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

It is from 'classical' grammar, or rather Early Middle Japanese. -しis the 連体形 (form used to modify nouns) of the past tense marker -き. It is used to describe events the speaker knows has happened; in contrast to -けり, which is used for events the speaker has only heard about but not experienced himself. (There are a few other past tense or perfect aspect markers - -ぬ, -り, etc - that are older and in varying stages of loss by Middle Japanese.)

選ばれし者 then means 'the chosen one(s), the one(s) who has/have been chosen'.

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This link has your answer: dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/50189/m1u/%E3%81%8D 同じ過去の助動詞「けり」が伝承した過去を回想するのに対し、「き」は確実な過去の事実を回想する。 –  dainichi Feb 17 at 5:53
    
Thank you, edited! –  Sjiveru Feb 17 at 20:11

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