From Peithô's Web


36. The simple types of style are four in number: the `plain,' the `elevated,' the `elegant,' the `forcible.' In addition there are the various combinations of these types. Not every style, however, can be combined with every other. The elegant is found united with the plain and the elevated, and the forcible with both alike. The elevated and the plain alone cannot be compounded. They are so irreconcilably opposed and contrasted that some maintain that there are no other types of style besides these two, the rest being intermediate. The elegant style is, thus, regarded as akin to the plain, and the forcible as akin to the elevated, as though the first contained something slight and dainty, and the second something massive and grand.

37. Such a view is absurd. We can see for ourselves that, with the exception of the two opposites just mentioned, any style may be combined with any other. In the poetry of Homer, for example, as well as in the prose of Plato, Xenophon, Herodotus and many other writers, great elevation is joined to great vigour and charm. The number of types of style is, therefore, that already indicated. The mode of expression appropriate to each will be found to be of the following kind.

38. I shall begin with the elevated style, to which to-day the title `eloquent' is given. Elevation consists in three things: `thought,' `diction,' `appropriate composition.' According to Aristotle, the paeonic rhythm is elevated (Rhetoric 3.8). There are two kinds of paeon, the `procatarctic' (initial), beginning with a long syllable and ending with three short ones, e.g. hêrchato de: and the `catalectic' (final), the converse of the former, that is to say, beginning with three short syllables and ending with a single long one, e.g. Arabia.

39. In the elevated style the members should begin with a procatarctic paeon and end with a catalectic paeon, as in this passage of Thucydides: `Now it was from Aethiopia that the malady originally came' (Thucyd. 2. 48). What, now, is the reason why Aristotle advised this arrangement of syllables? Because the member should open and end impressively; and this will be so if we begin with a long syllable and end with a long one. The long syllable has in itself something grand, and its use at the beginning is striking, while as a conclusion it leaves the hearer with a sense of elevation. Anyhow, all of us remember in a special degree, and are stirred by, the words that come first and the words that come last, whereas those that come between them have less effect upon us, as though they were obscured or hidden among the others.

40. This is clearly seen in Thucydides, whose dignity of style is almost in every instance due to the long syllables used in his rhythms. It may even be said that the pervading stateliness of that writer is attained altogether, or for the most part, by this arrangement of words.

41. We must, however, bear in mind that, even if we cannot exactly furnish the members with the two paeons at either end, we can at all events give a paeonic character to the arrangement by beginning and ending with long syllables. This is seemingly what Aristotle recommends, although for the sake of precision the two sorts of paeon are prescribed in his treatise. On the same principle Theophrastus has given as an instance of elevation the following member: `Those who philosophize in matters that are worth nought' (Theophr. Peri lexeôs). This particular sentence is not precisely composed of paeons, yet it is paeonic in character. The paeon should be employed in discourse, since it is a mixed measure and so safer, and derives its elevation from the long syllable and its prose character from the short ones.

42. Among the other measures the heroic is solemn and ill-adapted for prose. It is sonorous; not full of rhythm, but without it. Take, for instance, the following words: `This land, our land, reached now by me' (Scr. Inc). Here the reiteration of long syllables exceeds the bounds of prose.

43. The iambic measure lacks distinction and resembles ordinary conversation. Indeed, many people talk in iambics without knowing it. The paeon hits the happy mean between the two, and may be said to be composite. The paeonic structure may, accordingly, be employed in elevated passages after the manner thus described.

44. Long members also contribute to grandeur of style, e.g. `Thucydides the Athenian wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians' (Thucyd. 1. 1 init.), and `Herodotus of Halicarnassus sets forth in this History the result of his inquiries' (Herod. 1. 1. init.). A sudden drop into silence on a short member diminishes dignity of expression, elevated though the underlying thought and the words may be.

45. Elevation is also caused by a rounded form of composition, as in the following passage of Thucydides: `For the river Achelous flowing from Mount Pindus through Dolopia and the land of the Agrianians and Amphilochians, having passed the inland city Stratus and discharging itself into the sea near Oeniadae, and surrounding that town with a marsh, makes a winter expedition impossible owing to the floods' (Thucyd. 2. 102). All this impressiveness arises from the rounded period and from the fact that the historian hardly allows a pause to himself or to the reader.

46. If the sentence were broken up and made to run as follows: `For the river Achelous flows from Mount Pindus and empties itself into the sea near Oeniadae; but before reaching the outlet it converts the plain of Oeniadae into a marsh, so that the water forms a defence and protection against the attacks of the enemy in winter,'- if the phrasing of the sentence were to be varied in this way, there would be many resting-places in the narrative but its stateliness would be destroyed.

47. Long journeys are shortened by a succession of inns, while desolate paths, even when the distances are short, give the impression of length. Precisely the same principle will apply also in the case of members.

48. In many passages an impressive effect is produced by a harsh collocation of words, as for example in the line:

And Aias the mighty at Hector the brazen-helmed evermore
Was aiming his lance.
          (Homer, Iliad 16.358)

No doubt the clashing of letters is, as a rule, unpleasant to the ear, but here the very excess brings out the greatness of the hero, since in the elevated style smoothness and pleasant cadences have no place, except here and there. Thucydides almost invariably avoids smoothness and evenness of composition. He has rather the constant air of a man who is stumbling, like travellers on rough roads, as when he says that `from other maladies this year, by common consent, was free' (Thucyd. 2. 49). It would have been easier and pleasanter to say that ` by common consent, this year was free from other maladies. But this would have destroyed the effectiveness of the sentence.

49. Composition makes style impressive in the same way as a rugged word does. Instances of rugged words are `shrieking' in place of `crying,' and `bursting' in place of `charging.' Thucydides uses all expressions of this kind, assimilating the words to the composition and the composition to the words.

50. Words should be arranged in the following way. First should be placed those that are not specially vivid; in the second or last place should come those that are more so. In this way what comes first will strike the ear as vivid, and what follows as more vivid still. Failing this, we shall seem to have lost vigour, and (so to speak) to have lapsed from strength to weakness.

51. An illustration will be found in a passage of Plato: `when a man suffers music to play upon him and to flood his soul through his ears' (Republic 411a). Here the second expression is far more vivid than the first. And further on he says: `but when he ceases not to flood it, nay throws a spell over it, he causes it to melt and waste away' (Republic 411b). The word `waste' is stronger than the word `melt,' and approaches more nearly to poetry. If Plato had reversed the order, the verb `melt,' coming in the second place, would have appeared weaker.

52. Homer, also, in describing the Cyclops, augments continuously his hyperbole and seems to mount higher and higher on its steps:

Not like to the sons of men, but seeming a forest-clad crest;
          (Odyssey 9. 190)

and what is more, the crest of a lofty mountain and one that towers above its fellows. For great though they may be, the things which come first seem lesser, when greater things follow them.

53. Connectives, again, such as men and de, should not correspond too nicely. There is something trivial in excessive nicety. A certain negligence in the use of particles is desirable, just as Antiphon somewhere says: `for the island we inhabit can be seen from a distance to be lofty and rugged. Those parts of it which are tilled and useful are insignificant, while the uncultivated portions are many, small though the island is' (Antiphon, Fragm. 30; Blass). There is here only one de to answer to the repeated men.

54. On the other hand, it often happens that connectives which follow one another in close succession make even small things great, as in Homer the names of the Boeotian towns, though ordinary and insignificant, possess a certain high-sounding pomp owing to the accumulated connectives, for example in the line:

And in Schoenus and Scolus, and midst Eteonus' hill-clefts deep.
          (Iliad 2. 497)

55. Expletive particles must not be employed as pointless appendages and excrescences so to say or expansions, as and nu and proteron are sometimes aimlessly used. They must be introduced only if they contribute to elevation of expression,

56. as in Plato `lo mighty Zeus in his heaven' (Phaedrus 246e); and in Homer

But lo when they came to the ford of the fair-flowing river.
          (Iliad 14.433 and 21. 1)

The particle placed thus at the beginning of the sentence and separating what follows from what precedes, creates the impression of elevation. Amplified beginnings have an imposing effect. If the poet had said `but when they arrived at the ford of the river,' he would have seemed to be using trivial language and to be describing a single occurrence.

57. The particle is also often used with a touch of feeling, as in the words which Calypso addresses to Odysseus:

O Zeus' seed, son of Laertes, Odysseus of many an art,
Is it so, that home to thine own dear land thou art fain to depart?
          (Homer, Odyssey 5. 203)

Remove the particle, and you will at the same time remove the feeling conveyed by the line. In general, as Praxiphanes says, such particles used to be employed in place of moanings and laments. Instances are `ah me!' and 'alas!' and `oh, what is it?' As he himself says, the words kai nu ke were fittingly applied to men who are `lamenting,' since they suggest in some degree a word of mourning' (Homer Iliad 23.154, also Odyssey 16.220 and 21.226).

58. But those who use expletive particles aimlessly resemble, he says, actors who employ this exclamation and that casually, as though one were to say

Calydonian soil is this, whose fertile plains
Look o'er the narrow seas to Pelops' land
        (Ah me!).
              (Euripides, Meleag.; Eurip. Fragm. 515 Nauck2)

For as in this passage the `ah me!' and the 'alas!' are merely dragged in, so is the connective when it is inserted causelessly and indiscriminately.

59. Now while the connectives, as has been said, elevate the composition, the figures of speech are themselves a form of composition, since it is practically a matter of arrangement and distribution when you say the same thing twice, whether through repeating it, or through echoing it, or through changing its terms. The appropriate figures must be assigned to each several style. To the elevated style, our present subject, must be assigned first of all:

60. `Anthypallage,' as in Homer's line,

And the twin rocks--one of the twain with its peak towers up to the skies.
          (Odyssey 12.73)

With the grammatical case thus assimilated, the line is far more stately than if the poet had written:

And of the twin rocks one with its peak towers up to the skies.

That would have been the ordinary way of putting it. But everything ordinary is trivial, and so fails to win admiration.

61. Again, take Nireus-he is personally mean, and his share is meaner still, three ships and a handful of men. But Homer has made him great, and multiplied his following, through using in combination the two figures of `repetition' and `disjunction.' `Nireus,' he says, `brought three ships, Nireus Aglaea's son, Nireus the goodliest man' (Iliad 2. 671). The recurrence to one and the same name `Nireus,' and the disjunction, give an impression of multiplied power, though it is composed of but two or three items.

62. Thus, though Nireus is hardly once mentioned in the course of the action, we remember him no less than Achilles and Odysseus, who are spoken of in almost every line. The influence of the figure is the cause. If Homer had simply said `Nireus the son of Aglaea brought three ships from Syme,' this would have been tantamount to passing over Nireus in silence. It is with writing as with banquets, where a few dishes may be so arranged as to seem many.

63. In many passages, however, the opposite figure to separation, viz. combination, tends to elevation of style: e.g. 'To the war flocked both Greeks and Carians and Lycians and Pamphylians and Phrygians' (Scr. Inc.). The repeated use of the same conjunction gives the impression of an innumerable host.

64. But in such a phrase as 'high-arched, foam-crested' the omission of the conjunction 'and' lends an air of greater distinction to the discourse than its insertion would have done : 'high-arched and foam-crested' (Homer, Iliad 13. 798).

65. In constructing a sentence it is well, in order to attain elevation, not to keep to the same case, but to follow the example of Thucydides, when he writes: 'And being the first to step on to the gangway he swooned, and when he had fallen upon the forepart of the ship his shield dropped into the sea' (Thucyd. 4. 12). This is far more striking than if he had retained the same construction, and had said that 'he fell upon the forepart of the ship and lost his shield.'

66. The repetition of a word also conduces to elevation, as in the following passage of Herodotus: 'There were huge serpents in the Caucasus, huge and many' (Vid. Herod. 1. 203). The reiteration of the word 'huge' imparts a certain impressiveness to the style.

67. Overloading with figures should, however, be avoided, as betokening lack of taste and producing a certain inequality of style. The ancient writers, it is true, employ a number of figures in their works, but they employ them so artistically that their writing is more natural than that of those who eschew them entirely.

68. With regard to hiatus different opinions have been held by different persons. Isocrates and his followers avoided hiatus, while others have admitted it whenever it chanced to occur. The true course lies between the two extremes. The composition should not be noisy, as it will be if the vowels are allowed inartistically to collide just as they fall together, producing the impression of a jerky and disjointed style. On the other hand, the direct contact of such letters should not be shunned altogether. The composition will perhaps be smoother in this way, but it will be less tasteful and fall altogether flat, when robbed of all the music which results from the concurrence of vowels.

69. It is worthy of remark, in the first place, that common parlance itself, though it aims at euphony above all things, brings these letters into contact in such words as Aiakos and chiôn. It also forms many words of vowels and of vowels only, e.g. Aiaiê and Euios, and these, so far from being less pleasant to the ear than others, possibly seem even more harmonious.

70. Poetical forms such as hêelios, where the resolution and the concurrence are designed, have a better sound than hêlios, and the same is true of oreôn as compared with orôn. The resolution and the concurrence have the effect of actually making the words sing themselves. Many other words would be disagreeable if run together, but are pleasanter when they are separated and chime, e.g. panta men ta nea kai kala estin. If you were to fuse the vowels into kala 'stin (Scr. Inc. Cp. 207 infra.), the expression would be less euphonious and more commonplace.

71. In Egypt the priests, when singing hymns in praise of the gods, employ the seven vowels, which they utter in due succession; and the sound of these letters is so euphonious that men listen to it in preference to flute and lyre. To do away with this concurrence, therefore, is simply to do away entirely with the music and harmony of speech.- But perhaps this is not the right time to enlarge on these matters.

72. It is the concurrence of long vowels which is most appropriately employed in the elevated style, as in the words: 'that rock he heaved uphillward' (anô hôtheske, Hom. Odyss. 11.595). The line, it may be said, is longer through the hiatus, and has actually reproduced the mighty heaving of the stone. The words of Thucydides 'that it may not be attached to the mainland' (mê hêpeiros) furnish a similar example (Thucyd. 6.1.2). Diphthongs also may clash with diphthongs, e.g. 'the place was colonised from Corcyra; of Corinth, however, was its founder' (Kerkuraioi oikistês, Thucyd. 1.24.2).

73. Well then, the concurrence of the same long vowels, and of the same diphthongs, contributes to elevation of style. On the other hand, the concurrence of different vowels produces, through the number of sounds employed, variety as well as elevation, an instance being the word hêôs. In the word oiên not only are the letters different but also the breathings, one being rough and the other smooth, so that there are here many points of unlikeness.

74. In songs, too, trills can be made on one and the same long letter, songs being piled (so to say) on songs, so that the concurrence of like vowels may be regarded as a small part of a song and as a trill.-- These remarks must suffice on the question of hiatus and of the kind of composition appropriate to the elevated style.

75. Elevation resides also in the nature of the subject-matter, when (for instance) the subject is a great and famous battle on land or sea, or when earth or heaven is the theme. The man who listens to a great subject is promptly beguiled into thinking that the discourse itself is great. 'Beguiled,' I say: for we must consider not so much the things narrated as the method of their narration, since great topics may be handled in a manner that is mean and below the dignity of the subject-matter. Whence the saying that there are forcible writers, like Theopompus, who give feeble utterance to forcible conceptions.

76. The painter Nicias used to maintain that no small part of the artistic faculty was shown in the painter's choosing at the outset a subject of some amplitude, instead of dwarfing his art to small subjects; little birds (for example) or flowers. The right subjects, he said, were such as naval battles and cavalry engagements, which give an opportunity of introducing many figures of horses running or rearing or sinking to the ground, and of horsemen falling earthward or discharging javelins. His view was that the subject itself was a part of the painter's art, just as the ancient legends were a part of the art of poetry. So it need awaken no surprise that, in the province of style also, elevation results from the choice of a great subject.

77. The diction used in this style should be grandiose, elaborate, and distinctly out of the ordinary. It will thus possess the needed gravity, whereas usual and current words, though clear, are unimpressive and liable to be held cheap.

78. In the first place, then, metaphors must be used; for they impart a special charm and grandeur to style. They should not be numerous, however; or we find ourselves writing dithyrambic poetry in place of prose. Nor yet should they be far-fetched, but natural and based on a true analogy. There is a resemblance, for instance, between a general, a pilot, and a charioteer; they are all in command. Accordingly it can correctly be said that a general pilots the State, and conversely that a pilot commands the ship.

79. Not all metaphors can, however, be used convertibly like the above. Homer could call the lower slope of Ida its 'foot,' but he could never have called a man's foot his 'slope' (Iliad 20.218).

80. When the metaphor seems daring, let it for greater security be converted into a simile. A simile is an expanded metaphor, as when, instead of saying 'the orator Python was then rushing upon you in full flood,' we add a word of comparison and say 'was like a flood rushing upon you' (Demosthenes, de Cor. 136). In this way we obtain a simile and a less risky expression, in the other way metaphor and greater danger. Plato's employment of metaphors rather than similes is, therefore, to be regarded as a risky feature of his style. Xenophon, on the other hand, prefers the simile.

81. In Aristotle's (Rhetoric 3.11) judgment the so-called 'active' metaphor is the best, wherein inanimate things are introduced in a state of activity as though they were animate, as in the passage describing the shaft:

Leapt on the foemen the arrow keen-whetted with eager wing,
          (Homer, Iliad 4. 126)

and in the words:

High-arched foam-crested.
          (Homer, Iliad 13.798)

All such expressions as 'foam-crested' and 'eager wing' suggest the activities of living creatures.

82. Some things are, however, expressed with greater clearness and precision by means of metaphors than by means of the precise terms themselves : e.g. 'the battle shuddered' (Homer, lliad 13.339). No change of phrase could, by the employment of precise terms, give the meaning with greater truth and clearness. The poet has given the designation of 'shuddering battle' to the clash of spears and the low and continuous sound which these make. In so doing he has seized upon the aforesaid 'active' metaphor and has represented the battle as 'shuddering' like a living thing.

83. We must, however, not lose sight of the fact that some metaphors conduce to triviality rather than to grandeur, even though the metaphor be employed in order to enhance the effect. An instance is the line:

And with thunder-trumpet pealing the boundless heaven rang rounds.
          (Homer, Iliad 21. 388)

The entire firmament when resounding ought not to have been likened to a resounding trumpet, unless on Homer's behalf the defence be advanced that high heaven resounded in the way in which the entire heaven would resound were it trumpeting.

84. Let us, therefore, consider a different kind of metaphor, one which leads to pettiness rather than to grandeur. Metaphors should be applied from the greater to the less, not the other way about. Xenophon, for example, says: 'on the march a part of the line surged out' (Anabasis 1. 8. 18). He thus likens a swerving from the ranks to a surging of the sea, and applies this term to it. If, however, it were conversely to be said that the sea swerved from 'line,' the metaphor would possibly not be even appropriate; in any case it would be utterly trivial.

85. Some writers endeavour by the addition of epithets to safeguard metaphors which they consider risky. In this way Theognis applies to the bow the expression 'lyre without chords' when describing an archer in the act of shooting (Theog. trag., Nauck2, p. 769). It is a bold thing to apply the term 'lyre' to a bow, but the metaphor is guarded by the qualification 'without chords.'

86. Usage, which is our teacher everywhere, is so particularly in regard to metaphors. Usage, in fact, clothes almost all conceptions in metaphor, and that with such a sure touch that we are hardly conscious of it. It calls a voice 'silvery,' a man 'keen,' a character 'rugged,' a speaker 'long,' and so on with metaphors in general, which are applied so tastefully that they pass for literal description.

87. My own rule for the use of metaphor in composition is the art-or nature- found in usage. Metaphors have in some cases been so well established by usage that we no longer require the literal expressions, but the metaphor has definitely usurped the place of the literal term. For instance, 'the eye of the vine,' and so forth.

88. The parts of the body, however, which are called `vertebra' (sphondulos), 'collar-bone' (kleis), and 'ribs' (ktenes), derive their names not from metaphor but from their resemblance to a spindle-whorl, a key, and a comb respectively.

89. When we turn a metaphor into a simile in the way above described, we must aim at conciseness. We must do no more than prefix some such word as 'like,' or we shall have a poetical image in place of a simile. Take, for example, the following passage of Xenophon: 'like as a gallant hound charges a boar recklessly,' and 'like as a horse when untethered bounds proudly prancing over the plain' (Cyropaedia 1.4.21). Such descriptions have the appearance not of simile but of poetical imagery.

90. These images should not be used in prose lightly nor without the greatest caution.- This concludes our sketch of the subject of metaphor.

91. Compound words should also be used. They should not, however, be formed after the manner of the dithyrambic poets, e.g. `heaven-prodigied wanderings' or `the fiery-speared battalions of the stars' (Lyric. Fragm. Adesp. 128, Bergk4). They should resemble the compounds made in ordinary speech. In all word-formation I regard usage as the universal arbiter, usage which speaks of 'law-givers' and `master-builders,' and with sure touch frames many other compounds of the kind.

92. A compound word will usually, from the very fact that it is composite, derive a certain decorative quality and grandeur, and a certain pith as well. One word will stand for an entire phrase. For instance, you might speak of the transport of corn as `corn-convoy,' thus using a much more striking expression. Still, it may sometimes happen that the same strengthened effect will be obtained by the converse process of resolving a word into a phrase- 'corn-convoy,' for instance, into `convoy of corn.'

93. An example of a word used instead of a phrase is Xenophon's sentence: `it was not possible to capture a wild-ass unless the horsemen posted themselves at intervals and gave chase in relays' (Anabasis 1. 5. 2). The single word (diadechomenoi) is equivalent to saying that those in the rear were pursuing, while the others rode forward to meet them, so that the wild ass was intercepted. The compounding of words already compounded should, however, be avoided. Such double composition oversteps the limits of prose-writing.

94. Our authorities define 'onomatopoeic' words as those which are uttered in imitation of an emotion or an action, as 'hissed' and `lapping' (Homer, Odyssey 9. 394; Iliad 16. 161).

95. Homer impresses his hearers greatly by the employment of words descriptive of inarticulate sounds, and by their novelty above all. He is not making use of existing words, but of words which were then coming into existence. Moreover, the creation of a fresh word analogous to words already in use is regarded as a kind of poetic gift. As a word-maker, Homer seems, in fact, to resemble those who first gave things their names.

96. The foremost aim in the formation of words should be clearness and naturalness; the next, due analogy with established words. A writer should not have the appearance of introducing Phrygian or Scythian words among those of Greece.

97. Words should be formed either to denote things which have as yet not been named, as was done by the person who described the kettledrums and other instruments of effeminate devotees as 'lecheries,' or by Aristotle when he spoke of an ' elephanteer' (elephant-driver, Aristot. Hist. Anim. Book 2). Or again, a writer may independently fashion words from existing ones, as when someone gave the name of 'boatman' to one who rows a boat, or as when Aristotle called a man who lives by himself a 'solitary' (Cp. 144 infra.).

98. Xenophon says that 'the army huzzaed,' denoting by this derivative the cry of 'huzza' which the troops kept raising continually (Anabasis 5. 2. 14). The practice is, however, as I said, full of risk even for the poets themselves. It may be added that a compound is a kind of manufactured word, everything which is put together springing manifestly from certain existing material.

99. There is a kind of impressiveness also in allegorical language. This is particularly true of such menaces as that of Dionysius: 'their cicalas shall chirp from the ground' (see note on Proverbs).

100. If Dionysius had expressed his meaning directly, saying that he would ravage the Locrian land, he would have shown at once more irritation and less dignity. In the phrase actually used the speaker has shrouded his words, as it were, in allegory. Any darkly-hinting expression is more terror-striking, and its import is variously conjectured by different hearers. On the other hand, things that are clear and plain are apt to be despised, just like men when stripped of their garments.

101. Hence the Mysteries are revealed in an allegorical form in order to inspire such shuddering and awe as are associated with darkness and night. Allegory also is not unlike darkness and night.

102. Here again excess must be avoided, lest language become a riddle in our hands, as in the description of the surgeon's cupping-glass:

A man I beheld who with fire had welded brass to a man's flesh
          (Cleobulina, fragm. 1. Bergk).

The Lacedaemonians conveyed many of their threats by means of allegory, as in the message 'Dionysius at Corinth' addressed to Philip, and in many similar expressions (see note on Proverbs).

103. In certain cases conciseness, and especially aposiopesis, produce elevation, since some things seem to be more significant when not expressed but only hinted at. In other cases, however, triviality is the result. Impressiveness may result from repetitions such as those of Xenophon, who says: `the chariots rushed, some of them right through the ranks of friends, others right through the ranks of foes' (Anabasis 1. 8. 20). Such a sentence is far more striking than if Xenophon had put it in this way: 'right through the ranks both of friends and foes.'

104. Often the indirect expression is more impressive than the direct: e.g. the intention was that they should charge the ranks of the Greeks and cut their way through them' rather than 'they intended to charge and cut their way through' (Xenophon, Anabasis 1. 8, 10).

105. Similarity of words and obvious harshness of sound may contribute to the same result. Harshness of sound is often effective, as in the words

And Aias the mighty at Hector the brazen-helmed evermore
Was aiming his lance.
          (Homer, Iliad 16. 358)

The concurrence of the two words (Aias, aien) gives a far more vivid impression of the greatness of Ajax than even his famous sevenfold buckler.

106. The so-called `epiphoneme' may be defined as `diction that adorns.' It produces elevation of style in the highest degree. Some parts of diction simply subserve the thought, while others embellish it. Of the former the following is an example:

Like the hyacinth-flower, that shepherd folk 'mid the mountains tread

The embellishment comes with the added clause:

and low on the earth her bloom dark-splendid is shed.
          (Sappho, Fragm. 94, Bergk)

The addition thus made to the preceding lines clearly adorns and beautifies.

107. The poetry of Homer abounds in instances, e.g.

'I have taken them out of the smoke,' say thou, `for they seem no more
Like those that Odysseus left when he sailed for the Trojan shore,
But marred, wherever the wreaths of the fire-reek were wont to roll.
And another fear and a greater Cronion hath put in my soul,
Lest perchance ye be heated with wine, and ye break into strife and jar,
And ye wound one another, and shame the feast, and your wooing mar.'

After this he adds as a finishing-touch:

For the steel of itself hath a spell and it draweth men on unto war.
          (Odyssey 19. 7: cp. 16. 288)

108. In general it may be said that the epiphoneme bears a likeness to the things on which the wealthy pride themselves,- cornices, triglyphs, and bands of purple. Indeed, it is in itself a mark of verbal opulence.

109. The enthymeme may be thought to be a kind of epiphoneme. But it is not so, since it is employed for purposes not of adornment but of proof. Though, to be sure, it may come last after the manner of an epiphoneme.

110. Similarly a maxim resembles in some points an epiphoneme added to a previous statement. Nevertheless a maxim is not an epiphoneme. Though at times it may come last like an epiphoneme, it often comes first.

111. Again, the line

Fool! - for it was not his weird from the blackness of doom to flee
          (Homer, Iliad 12. 113)

will be no epiphoneme. For it is not additional nor is it ornamental. It has no likeness at all to an epiphoneme, but rather to an allocution or a taunt.

112. A touch of poetic diction adds to the elevation of prose. Even a blind man can see that, as the proverb has it. Still some writers imitate the poets quite crudely. Or rather, they do not imitate them, but transfer them to their pages as Herodotus has done.

113. Thucydides acts otherwise. Even if he does borrow something from a poet, he uses it in his own way and so makes it his own property. Homer, for instance, says of Crete:

A land there is, even Crete, in the midst of the dark sea-swell,
Fair, fertile, wave-encompassed.
          (Odyssey 19. 172)

Now Homer has used the word `wave-encompassed' to indicate the great size of the island. Thucydides, on his part, holds the view that the Greek settlers in Sicily should be at one, as they belong to the same land and that a wave-encompassed one'. Although he employs throughout the same terms as Homer-'land' and `wave-encompassed' (Thucyd. 4. 64. 3) in place of `island' - he seems nevertheless to be saying something different. The reason is that be uses the words with reference not to size but to concord.- Thus much with regard to elevation of style.

114. As in the sphere of morals certain bad qualities exist side by side with certain attractive qualities (audacity, for example, corresponding to bravery, and shame to reverence), so also the leading types of style are matched by distorted varieties. We will first speak of the style which is next neighbour to the elevated. Its name is 'frigid,' and it is defined by Theophrastus (Peri lex.) as that which transcends the expression appropriate to the thought, e.g.

Chalice unbased is not intabulated.
          (Soph. Triptol. fragm., Nauck2 p. 265)

Here the meaning is: 'a cup without a bottom is not placed upon a table.' The subject, being trivial, does not admit of such magniloquence.

115. Frigidity, like elevation, arises at three points. One of these is the thought itself, as when a writer once said, in describing how the Cyclops cast a boulder after the ship of Odysseus: 'when the boulder was in mid career goats were browsing on it' (Scr. Inc.). The words are frigid because the conceit is extravagant and impossible.

116. In diction Aristotle says that frigidity is of fourfold origin, arising from [(1) `strange terms'; (2) `epithets'] when Alcidamas speaks of `moist sweat' (Alcid.); (3) `composites,' when words are compounded in a dithyrambic manner, as with the expression `desert-wandering' which someone uses, and with other pompous expressions of the kind; (4.) ` metaphors,' e.g. `a crisis pale and trembling' (Scr. Inc.). Frigidity of diction may, therefore, arise in four ways.

117. Composition is frigid when it lacks good rhythm, or lacks all rhythm, having long syllables from beginning to end, e.g. `This land, our land, which I now reach, which I find all upstirred' (Scr. Inc.) On account of the succession of long syllables, this sentence is highly questionable and entirely lacking in prose rhythm.

118. It is also a mark of frigidity to introduce, as some do, one metrical phrase after another in prose, the close succession of which thrusts them on the attention. A bit of verse out of place is just as inartistic as the disregard of metrical rules in poetry.

119. There is a sort of general analogy between imposture and frigidity. The impostor boasts, facts notwithstanding, that qualities belong to him which do not. In like manner, also, the writer who invests trifles with pomp resembles one who gives himself airs about trifles. A heightened style used in connexion with a trivial subject recalls the `ornamented pestle' of the proverb.

120. There are, however, people who hold that we ought to use grand language of little things. They regard this as a proof of surpassing power. For my own part, I can forgive the rhetorician Polycrates who eulogised ......... like (another)

Agamemnon with antitheses, metaphors, and every trick of eulogy. He was jesting and not in earnest; the very inflation of his writing is but pleasantry. I have no objection to jesting, as I say. But fitness must be observed, whatever the subject; or in other words the style must be appropriate,- subdued for humble topics, lofty for high themes.

121. Xenophon obeys this rule when he says of the small and beautiful river Teleboas: 'this was not a large river; beautiful it was, though' (Anabasis 4. 4. 3 : cf. 6 supra.) Through the conciseness of the construction, and through placing the `though' at the end of the sentence, he has almost brought before our very eyes a small river. Another writer, on the contrary, when describing a river like the Teleboas, said that `it rushed from the hills of Laurium and disembogued into the sea,' as though he were describing the cataracts of the Nile or the mouth of the Danube (Scr. Inc.). All expressions of this kind are called `frigid.'

122. Small things, however, may be magnified in another way, and that not an unbecoming but sometimes a necessary way, for instance when we wish to exalt a general who has succeeded in some small enterprises as though he had actually won great triumphs. Or we may have to justify the ephor at Lacedaemon for scourging a man who played ball with a studied disregard of the custom of the country. The offence at first strikes the ear as a trivial one. Consequently we solemnly descant upon its gravity, pointing out that men who permit small malpractices open the way to more serious ones, and that we ought to punish for small transgressions rather than for great. We shall, further, adduce the proverb 'the thin end of the wedge' (Cp. Hesiod, Works and Days 40), showing how it bears upon this trifling offence; or we shall go so far as to maintain that no offence is trifling.

123. In this way, then, we may magnify a small success, though not at the cost of propriety. As what is great can often be depreciated with advantage, so can what is lowly be exalted.

124. The most frigid of all figures is hyperbole, which is of three kinds, being expressed either in the form of likeness, as 'a match for the winds in speed'; or of superiority, as `whiter than snow' (Homer Iliad 10. 436), or of impossibility, as 'with her head she has smitten the sky' (Homer, Iliad 4. 443).

125. Indeed, every hyperbole transcends the possible. There could be nothing 'whiter than snow,' nor anything 'a match for the winds in speed.' However, the particular hyperbole already mentioned is specially called 'impossible.' And so the very reason why every hyperbole seems, above all things, frigid, is that it suggests something impossible.

126. This is the chief reason also why the comic poets employ this figure. From the impossible they evolve the laughable, as when someone said hyperbolically of the voracity of the Persians that 'they voided entire plains,' and that 'they carried bullocks in their jaws' (Scr. Inc.).

127. Of the same character are the expressions 'balder than the cloudless blue' and 'lustier than a pumpkin' (Sophron, Fragmm. 108, 34, Kaibel C. G. F.). Sappho's words 'more golden than all gold' (Sappho, Fragm. 123, Bergk) are themselves hyperbolical and impossible, though from their very impossibility they derive charm, not frigidity. Indeed, one cannot sufficiently admire this in the divine Sappho, that by sheer genius she so handles a risky and seemingly unmanageable business as to invest it with charm. These observations on the subject of frigidity and hyperbole must suffice. We shall next consider the elegant style.

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This e-version of W. Rhys Roberts' translation of Demetrius On Style was adapted from: Demetrius On style: the Greek text of Demetrius De Elocutione edited after the Paris manuscript with introd., translation, facsimiles, etc. by W. Rhys Roberts (Cambridge, at the University Press: 1902), pp. 67-207. This is only the translation from Robert's edition, and does not include his scholarly notes or commentary. Some of Roberts' notes have been converted to in-line links and modified to reflect reference style at the Perseus Project. The division into five chapters is from Roberts. This e-adaptation of Roberts' translation is presented for your enjoyment as is and without any warranty by Peithô's Web.

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