previous next

‘And to use (as a rule) in speaking (and writing) conjunctions and other connectives; or, for conciseness, to write without connectives, but not without connexion: as either πορευθεὶς καὶ διαλεχθείς, or πορευθεὶς διελέχθην’. It is impossible to translate this into English, so as to shew the difference in the two Greek phrases, because the approved translation of the second is to convert the participle, which we seldom use in this connexion, into a finite verb connected by a copula with the verb succeeding: so that in our language the two expressions become identical.

ἀσύνδετος λόγος is composition in which the conjunctions and other connecting particles, especially the copula, are omitted; and therefore more or less loose, unconnected, incoherent. Ernesti, Lex. Techn. Gr. p. 45. It is to be observed that as connecting particles occur much more frequently in Greek than in our own language, the want of them, which constitutes asyndeton, would be much more disagreeable to the Greeks than to us, and would give the composition the appearance of being both naked and disjointed. Consequently the general rule (which is stated here) is to avoid it: but in special cases, where the aim is to give emphasis and vigour, rapidity and conciseness to a narrative, it may often be used with advantage, as the examples will shew. Demetrius περὶ ἑρμηνείας, § 192, τὸ δὲ ἀσύνδετον καὶ διαλελυμένον ὅλον ἀσαφὲς πᾶν.

ἀσύνδετον is defined alike in several of the later Greek rhetoricians, Hermogenes, περὶ μεθόδου δεινότητος, 11, Phoebammon, Tiberius, Herodian, Zonaeus and others, as the ‘omission of σύνδεσμοι’; and all alike exemplify it by the omission- of καί, which is no doubt the most frequent case. Comp. Cic. Orat. XXXIX 135, who speaks of it as one of the orationis lumina et quodammodo insignia, quum demptis coniunctionibus dissolute plura dicuntur. Quint. IX 3. 50, figuram, quae quia coniunctionibus caret dissolutio vocatur; apta quum quid instantius dicimus; nam et singula inculcantur et quasi plura fiunt, seq. Confer omnino Dem. Phil. Γ 118, § 27, Ibid. p. 130 § 130, τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους Ἕλληνας συγκαλεῖν συνάγειν διδάσκειν νουθετεῖν. The speeches of Lysias against Eratosthenes and Andocides both conclude with an asyndeton of this kind. The former ends thus: παύσομαι κατηγορῶν. ἀκηκόατε, ἑωράκατε, πεπόνθατε: ἔχετε, δικάζετε: which Aristotle quotes Rhet. III 19. 6, at the end of the work; and of course wrongly. See also III 12. 2 and 4, where a similar example is given; not to omit Cicero's, abiit excessit, evasit, erupit [in Catilinam II § 1]. Demetrius περὶ ἑρμηνείας, § 194 (Spengel, Rhet. Gr. III 304), ὅτι δὲ ὑποκριτικὸν λύσις παράδειγμα ἐγκείσθω τόδε: ἐδεξάμην, ἔτικτον, ἔτρεφον, φίλη, κ.τ.λ.

The meaning of § 6 is this. If you wish to add pomp and dignity to your style, as in an ordinary narrative, employ conjunctions— Victorius refers this to the so-called figure ἓν διὰ δυοῖν, hendiadys, pateris libamus et auro, in brevia et Syrtes, molemque et montes insuper altos imposuit, from Virgil's Georg. and Aen.—Or, if you don't employ conjunctions, at any rate don't break the connexion between the parts of the sentence; if on the other hand (as he implies elsewhere) you want to be concise or give vigour and animation to your language, asyndeton will often do it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: