Customary Triviality and the Second Most Beautiful Danaan

Demetrius, On Style 60-61

“First, anthypallage, as when Homer has “the two rocks, one reaches to the broad sky”. This is far more impressive than if the typical genitive had been used and he had said, two of the rocks, one reaches the broad sky. It is customarily said like that. But everything customary is trivial, and for this reason brings no amazement.

Conider, in turn, Nireus, who is minor himself and whose affairs are minor since he has three ships and a small number of people. The poet makes him great and his group lareger using the double and combined figures of anaphora and asyndeton. He says “Nireus led three ships / Nirieus the son of Aglaiê, Nireus, who was the prettiest man. The anaphora—repetition of the same word, here Nireus—and the asyndeton makes the matter described seem larger, even though it is only two or three ships.”

(60) πρῶτον μὲν τὴν ἀνθυπαλλαγήν, ὡς Ὅμηρος, “οἱ δὲ δύο σκόπελοι ὁ μὲν οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἱκάνει”· πολὺ γὰρ οὕτω μεγαλειότερον ἐναλλαγείσης <τῆς> πτώσεως, ἢ εἴπερ οὕτως ἔφη, “τῶν δὲ δύο σκοπέλων ὁ μὲν οὐρανὸν εὐρύν”· συνήθως γὰρ ἐλέγετο. πᾶν δὲ τὸ σύνηθες μικροπρεπές, διὸ καὶ ἀθαύμαστον.

(61) Τὸν δὲ Νιρέα, αὐτόν τε ὄντα μικρὸν καὶ τὰ πράγματα αὐτοῦ μικρότερα, τρεῖς ναῦς καὶ ὀλίγους ἄνδρας, μέγαν καὶ μεγάλα ἐποίησεν καὶ πολλὰ ἀντ᾿ ὀλίγων, τῷ σχήματι διπλῷ καὶ μικτῷ χρησάμενος ἐξ ἐπαναφορᾶς τε καὶ διαλύσεως. “Νιρεὺς γάρ,” φησι, “τρεῖς νῆας ἄγεν, Νιρεὺς Ἀγλαΐης υἱός, Νιρεύς, ὃς κάλλιστος ἀνήρ”· ἥ τε γὰρ ἐπαναφορὰ τῆς λέξεως ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ὄνομα τὸν Νιρέα καὶ ἡ διάλυσις πλῆθός τι ἐμφαίνει πραγμάτων, καίτοι δύο ἢ τριῶν ὄντων.

The lines in the Iliad are slightly different (2.671–675)

“Then Nireus came from Symê with three beautiful ships,
Nireus the son of Aglaiê and lord Kharops,
Nireus, the most beautiful man who came to Troy
Of all the Danaans after the blameless son of Peleus.
But he was weak and a meager army followed him.”

Νιρεὺς αὖ Σύμηθεν ἄγε τρεῖς νῆας ἐΐσας
Νιρεὺς ᾿Αγλαΐης υἱὸς Χαρόποιό τ’ ἄνακτος
Νιρεύς, ὃς κάλλιστος ἀνὴρ ὑπὸ ῎Ιλιον ἦλθε
τῶν ἄλλων Δαναῶν μετ’ ἀμύμονα Πηλεΐωνα·
ἀλλ’ ἀλαπαδνὸς ἔην, παῦρος δέ οἱ εἵπετο λαός.

Thebes Vase from this site

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.

Image result for medieval manuscript syntax
From this site.

Debtors After Death: An Attic Speech on Inheritance

Isaeus, On the Estate of Kleonymos 1-4

This oration is not really anything special. It is a speech over contested inheritance. It has some classic features of Attic oratory both thematically and structurally. What is strength about this one is figuring out the grammar of section 4. There is a finite verb at the beginning of 3, and then two in what seem to be subordinate clauses in the same section. Starting in section 4, however, we have two nominative clauses (perhaps nominal statements with an implied form of to be) followed by a string of genitive absolutes. I have just turned the genitive absolutes into independent sentences. Any better suggestions?

“I have experienced a great change from the death of Kleonymos, Friends. For, when he was alive, he left his estate to us; but, by dying, he has put it at risk for us. Then, we were educated so prudently by him that we never entered a courtroom, not even for the purpose of observing; but now, we come for the purpose of competing for our own subsistence—for not only do they cast doubt on Kleonymos’ possessions, but they include his patrimony too, claiming that we owe them money on his behalf.

Both their relatives and their close friends believe that we have the right to an equal share with them of the agreed upon possessions which Kleonymos left to us. But these men have come to such a point of shamelessness that they seek to strip us of our paternal rights, not because they are ignorant of what is just, Men, but because they have recognized our great bereavement.

Look at the things which each side relies on when they come before you. These men find their strength in these kinds of documents which [Kleonymos] had written not because he was angry at us but in rage at some other relative. But he resolved these before he died and sent Poseidippos to the registry to do so. We were his closest relatives, staying most regularly in contact of all—the laws have granted this to as the closest relations, and Kleonymos willed this, due do the friendship he experienced, and, in addition, his father Polyarkhos—our grandfather—declared that his possessions should be ours if Kleonymos died without children.”

     Πολλὴ μὲν ἡ μεταβολή μοι γέγονεν, ὦ ἄνδρες, τελευ-τήσαντος Κλεωνύμου· ἐκεῖνος γὰρ ζῶν μὲν ἡμῖν κατέλειπε τὴν οὐσίαν, ἀποθανὼν δὲ κινδυνεύειν περὶ αὐτῆς πεποίηκε. Καὶ τότε μὲν οὕτως ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ σωφρόνως ἐπαιδευόμεθα, ὥστ’ οὐδὲ ἀκροασόμενοι οὐδέποτε ἤλθομεν ἐπὶ δικαστήριον, νῦν δὲ ἀγωνιούμενοι περὶ πάντων ἥκομεν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων· οὐ γὰρ τῶν Κλεωνύμου μόνον ἀμφισβητοῦσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν πατρῴων, ὀφείλειν ἐπὶ τούτοις <ἡμᾶς> ἐκείνῳ φάσκοντες ἀργύριον.

καὶ οἱ μὲν οἰκεῖοι καὶ οἱ προσήκοντες [ἐπὶ τούτοις] οἱ τούτων ἀξιοῦσιν ἡμᾶς καὶ τῶν ὁμολογουμένων, ὧν Κλεώνυμος κατέλιπεν, αὐτοῖς τούτων ἰσομοιρῆσαι· οὗτοι δὲ εἰς τοῦτο ἥκουσιν ἀναισχυντίας, ὥστε καὶ τὰ πατρῷα προσαφελέσθαι ζητοῦσιν ἡμᾶς, οὐκ ἀγνοοῦντες, ὦ ἄνδρες, τὸ δίκαιον, ἀλλὰ πολλὴν ἡμῶν ἐρημίαν καταγνόντες.

Σκέψασθε γὰρ οἷς ἑκάτεροι πιστεύοντες ὡς ὑμᾶς εἰσεληλύθαμεν· οὗτοι μὲν διαθήκαις ἰσχυριζόμενοι τοιαύταις, ἃς ἐκεῖνος διέθετο μὲν οὐχ ἡμῖν ἐγκαλῶν ἀλλ᾿ ὀργισθεὶς τῶν οἰκείων τινὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων, ἔλυσε δὲ πρὸ τοῦ θανάτου, πέμψας Ποσείδιππον ἐπὶ τὴν ἀρχήν· ἡμεῖς δὲ γένει μὲν ἐγγυτάτω προσήκοντες, χρώμενοι δὲ ἐκείνῳ πάντων οἰκειότατα, δεδωκότων δ᾿ ἡμῖν καὶ τῶν νόμων κατὰ τὴν ἀγχιστείαν καὶ αὐτοῦ τοῦ Κλεωνύμου διὰ τὴν φιλίαν τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν αὐτῷ, ἔτι δὲ Πολυάρχου, τοῦ πατρὸς <τοῦ> Κλεωνύμου, πάππου δ᾿ ἡμετέρου, προστάξαντος, εἴ τι πάθοι Κλεώνυμος ἄπαις, ἡμῖν δοῦναι τὰ αὑτοῦ.

To make sense of this section, I take the nominatives in the first two lines below as statements (as I stated above) and the genitives as absolute clauses adding information. The balance of the content is off from the grammar, because I think that the main point of this passage is ἡμῖν δοῦναι τὰ αὑτοῦ. In addition, in the absolute clauses, there is some interesting variation. The laws decree or grant (δεδωκότων, perhaps anticipating δοῦναι), but I think we have to take both Kleonymos and his father as subjects for προστάξαντος (signaled by the correlation of καὶ ἔτι δὲ…). And, of course, all of this is made a little more confusing by having a conditional clause (protasis of a future less vivid? εἴ τι πάθοι Κλεώνυμος ἄπαις) with an apodosis in indirect statement.

ἡμεῖς δὲ γένει μὲν ἐγγυτάτω προσήκοντες,
χρώμενοι δὲ ἐκείνῳ πάντων οἰκειότατα,
δεδωκότων δ᾿ ἡμῖν καὶ τῶν νόμων κατὰ τὴν ἀγχιστείαν
καὶ αὐτοῦ τοῦ Κλεωνύμου
διὰ τὴν φιλίαν τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν αὐτῷ,
ἔτι δὲ Πολυάρχου, τοῦ πατρὸς <τοῦ> Κλεωνύμου, πάππου δ᾿ ἡμετέρου, προστάξαντος,
εἴ τι πάθοι Κλεώνυμος ἄπαις,
ἡμῖν δοῦναι τὰ αὑτοῦ.

Image result for Ancient Greek fragment of will