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‘In public speaking there is least occasion for narrative, because no one ever gives a narrative of things future’ (the only province of deliberative Rhetoric, from which all its materials are derived; ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν): ‘but if there be a narrative, it must be of things past, in order that with these in their recollection they may be better able to deliberate about things to come’. Gaisford refers to Dionys. Ars Rhet. X 14, ὅλη μὲν ἰδέα συμβουλευτικὴ διηγήσεως οὐ δεῖται: ἴσασι γὰρ οἱ βουλευόμενοι περὶ ὧν σκοποῦνται, καὶ δέονται μαθεῖν ὃ πρακτέον ἐστίν, οὐχ ὅπερ βουλευτέον. ‘Or it may be employed in the way of accusation or of praise’, διηγήσονται, εἰ διηγοῦνται, to be understood from the preceding. ‘But in that case, (the speaker who thus employs it) does not fulfil the proper function of the adviser’ (whose office is to exhort and dissuade). The following sentence to the end of the chapter I have done what I can to elucidate in the Introd. p. 354. No commentator, except Victorius, whose explanation I have there criticized, has bestowed a single word upon it; not even Spengel in his recent edition: I suppose he has given it up as hopeless. What it seems to me to mean is something of this kind—but I think there is most likely some latent corruption. ‘If there be anything incredible in your narrative, you may promise your audience (omit τε) to add1 a reason (i.e. explanation, to account for it), and a full, detailed, explanation of it as long as they please’. διατάττειν is one of the chief difficulties of the passage. The only appropriate meaning that occurs to me is to ‘set out in order, i.e. set forth in full and clear detail’: οἷς βούλονται ‘with what, with as many details as, they please’. ‘As Carcinus’ Jocasta, in his Oedipus, is perpetually promising, in answer to the inquiries of the man who is looking for her son—(something or other, which is left to be supplied by the hearer's knowledge of the context: probably, to satisfy him). And Sophocles' Haemon’. This last example must be given up as hopeless: there is nothing in the extant play which could be interpreted as is required here. And what Carcinus' Jocasta has to do with the topic to be illustrated, is not easy to see. Carcinus' Medea has been already quoted II 23. 28, where an account is given of him in the note. His Thyestes is referred to, Poet. XVI 2, and a fault pointed out, XVII 2. And as if to aggravate the difficulties which surround the interpretation of this passage, Wagner, in his collection of the Tragic Fragments, has chosen to omit this reference to Carcinus.
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