Various Meanings of Syntax

“Syntax is the death of me”

σύνταξις γὰρ ἐμοὶ καὶ θάνατον παρέχει, Palladas

Diogenes Laertius, Zeno 44

“The second topic also mentioned above as proper to dialectic is that of language. In this are also included written language and the parts of speech as well as a consideration of solecisms, barbarisms, of poetic words and ambiguities, concerning euphony and music, and, according to some, sections on definitions, divisions, and diction.”

Εἶναι δὲ τῆς διαλεκτικῆς ἴδιον τόπον καὶ τὸν προειρημένον περὶ αὐτῆς τῆς φωνῆς, ἐν ᾧ δείκνυται ἡ ἐγγράμματος φωνὴ καὶ τίνα τὰ τοῦ λόγου μέρη, καὶ περὶ σολοικισμοῦ καὶ βαρβαρισμοῦ καὶ ποιημάτων καὶ ἀμφιβολιῶν καὶ περὶ ἐμμελοῦς φωνῆς καὶ περὶ μουσικῆς καὶ περὶ ὅρων κατά τινας καὶ διαιρέσεων καὶ λέξεων.


Jerome, Letter 128 To Pacatula

“How can I encourage the girl who hit her laughing mother with a child’s hand to submit to her parents? Thus let our Pacatula take this letter to read it later. Meanwhile, let her learn the basic elements of language and put syllables together.”

Ut parenti subiciatur, horter, quae manu tenera ridentem verberat matrem? Itaque Pacatula nostra hoc epistulium post lectura suscipiat; interim modo litterularum elementa cognoscat, iungat syllabas.


Suda Sigma, 1623

“Syntax:  This is the combining of two things. It is also taking and doing necessary things. “He was not ashamed to be depriving men on expedition from all their pay [syntaxeis]”. Malkhos also writes “the soldiers went into depression because they were often deprived of their pay [syntaxeis] and cut off from their common food.” Malkhos writes again elsewhere “he honored Pamprepios famously and granted him a salary [syntaxeis]. Procopios writes “they were also criticizing because the public owed them their pay [syntaxeis] for a great amount of time.”

Σύνταξις: δευτέρων πραγμάτων ἕνωσις. καὶ τὸ λαμβάνειν καὶ ποιεῖν τὰ δέοντα. τοὺς στρατευομένους ἀποστερῶν τὰς συντάξεις ἁπάσας οὐκ ᾐσχύνετο. καὶ Μάλχος: τῶν συντάξεων στερηθέντες πολλάκις οἱ στρατιῶται καὶ παρακοπτόμενοι τῆς τροφῆς τῆς συνήθους ἐς ἀπόνοιαν ἦλθον. καὶ αὖθις Μάλχος: ὁ δὲ τὸν Παμπρέπιον λαμπρῶς τε ἐτίμησε καὶ σύνταξιν ἔδωκε. Προκόπιος: ἅμα δὲ καὶ μεμφόμενοι, ὅτι δὴ σφίσι χρόνου τὰς συντάξεις πολλοῦ τὸ δημόσιον ὦφλε.

Sigma, 1624

“Syntaxis: A summary, a history. Polybius has written “we made these things clear in previous compositions.”

Σύνταξις: ἡ συγγραφή, ἡ ἱστορία. Πολύβιος: ταῦτα ἐν ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ συντάξεσι δεδηλώκαμεν.

Sigma, 1625

Syntaxis: A proper way of saying a financial agreement. Demosthenes writes in his Phillipics: “there should be a single and identical agreement [syntaxis] for taking and doing what is needed. For he used to call each of the tax types “syntaxes”, since the Greeks took the name ‘tribute’ rather badly. So Kallistratos called it this instead. So, Hyperides says “We who once thought it right to levy, give a payment [syntax] to no one in the present”

Σύνταξις: ἀντὶ τοῦ συντεταγμένη οἴκησις. Δημοσθένης Φιλιππικοῖς: καὶ μίαν σύνταξιν εἶναι τὴν αὐτὴν τοῦ τε λαμβάνειν καὶ τοῦ ποιεῖν τὰ δέοντα. ἔλεγε δὲ ἑκάστους φόρους συντάξεις, ἐπειδὴ χαλεπῶς ἔφερον οἱ Ἕλληνες τὸ τῶν φόρων ὄνομα, Καλλιστράτου οὕτως καλέσαντος. καὶ Ὑπερίδης δέ φησι: σύνταξιν ἐν τῷ παρόντι οὐδενὶ διδόντες, ἡμεῖς δέ ποτε ἠξιώσαμεν λαβεῖν.


rhapsdôdia: A binding of words, or a stitching-together of words. Or, a part of a poem.”

ῥαψῳδία· ἡ σύνταξις τῶν λόγων, ἢ λόγων συῤῥαφή. ἢ μέρος ποιήματος


“Syntax: a uniting of two matters. Also to take and make what is necessary”

Σύνταξις. δευτέρων πραγμάτων ἕνωσις. καὶ τὸ λαμβάνειν καὶ ποιεῖν τὰ δέοντα.

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