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‘Let so much suffice for the consideration (observation) of that (τὰ περὶ ποιητικῆς, c. I. 10); and (now) let it be regarded as settled (or determined) once for all that one virtue of style is to be perspicuous: for a sign of this is, that if the speech (or language) do not explain its meaning, it will fail to perform its own proper function’. This is a reference to the rule first laid down by Plat. Rep. I 352 D seq., and adopted by Aristotle who constantly recurs to it—see especially Eth. Nic. II 5, init.—that the virtue or excellence of anything, knife, horse, or anything that can be employed as an instrument, is determined by its ἔργον or special function, in the due performance of which it lies. If the special function of language is to explain one's meaning, it is plain that if it fail to do that—if it is not perspicuous—it does not answer its intended purpose. ‘And neither mean nor exaggerated’ (beyond or above the true valuation of the subject it is employed upon, turgid, pompous, inflated), ‘but decent, appropriate, suitable’ (a precept of propriety): ‘for though it may be (ἴσως) poetical language is not tame, yet it is by no means suitable to prose’. Comp. Poet. XXII 1, λέξεως δὲ ἀρετὴ σαφῆ καὶ μὴ ταπεινὴν εἶναι. These are the two indispensable excellences of style, (1) clearness or perspicuity, and (2) propriety. On these see Introduction, p. 280.
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