Demetrius, On Style

LCL 199: 342-343

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(1) Ὥσπερ ἡ ποίησις διαιρεῖται τοῖς μέτροις, οἷον ἡμιμέτροις ἢ ἑξαμέτροις ἢ τοῖς ἄλλοις, οὕτω καὶ τὴν ἑρμηνείαν τὴν λογικὴν διαιρεῖ καὶ διακρίνει τὰ καλούμενα κῶλα, καθάπερ ἀναπαύοντα τὸν λέγοντά τε καὶ τὰ λεγόμενα1 αὐτά, καὶ ἐν πολλοῖς ὅροις ὁρίζοντα τὸν λόγον, ἐπεί τοι μακρὸς ἂν εἴη καὶ ἄπειρος καὶ ἀτεχνῶς πνίγων τὸν λέγοντα.

(2) βούλεται μέντοι διάνοιαν ἀπαρτίζειν τὰ κῶλα ταῦτα, ποτὲ μὲν ὅλην διάνοιαν, οἷον2 ὡς Ἑκαταῖός φησιν ἐν τῇ ἀρχῇ τῆς ἱστορίας, “Ἑκαταῖος Μιλήσιος ὧδε μυθεῖται”· συνείληπται γὰρ διάνοια τῷ κώλῳ ὅλῳ ὅλη, καὶ ἄμφω συγκαταλήγουσιν. ἐνίοτε μέντοι τὸ κῶλον ὅλην3 μὲν οὐ συμπεραιοῖ διάνοιαν, μέρος δὲ ὅλης ὅλον· ὡς γὰρ τῆς χειρὸς οὔσης ὅλου τινὸς μέρη αὐτῆς ὅλα ὅλης4 ἐστίν, οἷον δάκτυλοι5 καὶ πῆχυς6 (ἰδίαν γὰρ περιγραφὴν ἔχει τούτων τῶν μερῶν ἕκαστον, καὶ ἴδια μέρη), οὕτω


on style

On Style

(1) Just as poetry is organised by metres (such as half-lines,1 hexameters, and the like), so too prose2 is organised and divided by what are called clauses. Clauses give a sort of rest to both the speaker and what is actually being said; and they mark out its boundaries at frequent points, since it would otherwise continue at length without limit and simply run the speaker out of breath.

(2) But the proper function of such clauses is to conclude a thought. Sometimes a clause is a complete thought, for example Hecataeus at the beginning of his History: “Hecataeus of Miletus speaks as follows.”3 Here a complete clause coincides with a complete thought and both end together. Sometimes, however, the clause marks off not a complete thought, but a complete part of one. For just as the arm4 is a whole, yet has parts such as fingers and forearm which are themselves each a whole, since each of these has its own shape and indeed

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.demetrius_phalerum-style.1995