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[6] But neither clauses nor periods should be curtailed or too long. If too short, they often make the hearer stumble; for when he is hurrying on
towards the measure of which he already has a definite idea, if he is checked by the speaker stopping, a sort of stumble is bound to occur in consequence of the sudden stop. If too long, they leave the hearer behind, as those who do not turn till past the ordinary limit leave behind those who are walking with them. Similarly long periods assume the proportions of a speech and resemble dithyrambic preludes. This gives rise to what Democritus of Chios1 jokingly rebuked in Melanippides,2 who instead of antistrophes composed dithyrambic preludes: “ A man does harm to himself in doing harm to another, and a long prelude is most deadly to one who composes it;3

” for these verses may be applied to those who employ long clauses. Again, if the clauses are too short, they do not make a period, so that the hearer himself is carried away headlong.

1 A well-known musician.

2 Of Melos. He wrote rambling dithyrambic preludes without strophic correspondence. Others take ἀναβολή to mean an entire ode.

3 Hes. WD 265. The second line is a parody of 266, δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη.

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