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[1458a] [1] the former when use is made of a longer vowel than usual or a syllable inserted, and the latter when part of the word is curtailed. An example of a lengthened word is πόληος for πολέως and Πηληιάδεω for Πηλείδου; and of a curtailed word κρῖ and δῶ, and e.g. μία γίνεται ἀμφοτέρων ὄψ.1

A word is "altered" when the poet coins part of the word and leaves the rest unchanged, e.g. δεξιτερὸν κατὰ μαζόν instead of δεξιόν.

Of the nouns themselves, some are masculine, some feminine, and some neuter.2 Masculine are all that end in N and P and Σ and in the two compounds of Σ, Ψ and Ξ. Feminine are all that end in those of the vowels that are always long, for instance Η and Ω, and in Α among vowels that can be lengthened. The result is that the number of masculine and feminine terminations is the same, for Ψ and Ξ are the same as Σ. No noun ends in a mute or in a short vowel. Only three end in Ι, μέλι, κόμμι, and πέπερι. Five end in Υ. The neuters end in these letters and in Ν and Σ.

The merit of diction is to be clear and not commonplace. The clearest diction is that made up of ordinary words, but it is commonplace. [20] An example is the poetry of Cleophon and of Sthenelus.3 That which employs unfamiliar words is dignified and outside the common usage. By "unfamiliar" I mean a rare word, a metaphor, a lengthening,4 and anything beyond the ordinary use. But if a poet writes entirely in such words, the result will be either a riddle or jargon; if made up of metaphors, a riddle and if of rare words, jargon. The essence of a riddle consists in describing a fact by an impossible combination of words. By merely combining the ordinary names of things this cannot be done, but it is made possible by combining metaphors. For instance, "I saw a man weld bronze upon a man with fire," and so on.5 A medley of rare words is jargon. We need then a sort of mixture of the two. For the one kind will save the diction from being prosaic and commonplace, the rare word, for example, and the metaphor and the "ornament," whereas the ordinary words give clarity.

1 κρῖ for κριθή, "barley"; δῶ for δῶμα "house"; ὄψ for ὄψις "face, eye, or appearance."

2 This paragraph the reader should either skip or study with Bywater's notes. Without them these generalizations on gender seem merely wrong.

3 A tragedian whom Aristophanes ridicules for the insipidity of his diction.

4 See preceding chapter 19.

5 The answer is a cupping-bowl. This was a bronze vessel which was applied to the body at the place at which a small incision had been made. Heated lint was placed in the bowl of it and the reduction of air-pressure thus caused a strong flow of blood. For this form of riddle cf. "Out of the strong came forth sweetness."

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