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And as there is less chance of making a mistake when speaking generally, diviners express themselves in general terms on the question of fact; for, in playing odd or even, one is more likely to be right if he says “even” or “odd” than if he gives a definite number, and similarly one who says “it will be” than if he states “when.” This is why soothsayers do not further define the exact time. All such ambiguities are alike, wherefore they should be avoided, except for some such reason.1 [5] The fourth rule consists in keeping the genders distinct—masculine, feminine, and neuter,2 as laid down by Protagoras; these also must be properly introduced: [6] “She, having come (fem.) and having conversed (fem.) with me, went away.” The fifth rule consists in observing number, according as many, few, or one are referred to: “They, having come (pl.), began to beat (pl.) me.”

Generally speaking, that which is written should be easy to read or easy to utter, which is the same thing. Now, this is not the case when there is a number of connecting particles, or when the punctuation is hard, as in the writings of Heraclitus.3 For it is hard, since it is uncertain to which word another belongs, whether to that which follows or that which precedes; for instance, at the beginning of his composition he says: “Of this reason which exists4 always men are ignorant,” where it is uncertain whether “always” should go with “which exists” or with “are ignorant.” [7] Further, a solecism results from not appropriately connecting or joining two words with a word which is equally suitable to both.
For instance, in speaking of “sound” and “color”, the word “seeing” should not be used, for it is not suitable to both, whereas “perceiving” is. It also causes obscurity, if you do not say at the outset what you mean, when you intend to insert a number of details in the middle; for instance, if you say: “I intended after having spoken to him thus and thus and in this way to set out” instead of “I intended to set out after having spoken to him,” and then this or that happened, in this or that manner.

6. The following rules contribute to loftiness of style. Use of the description instead of the name of a thing; for instance, do not say “circle,” but “a plane figure, all the points of which are equidistant from the center.” But for the purpose of conciseness the reverse—use the name instead of the description. [2] You should do the same to express anything foul or indecent; if the foulness is in the description, use the name; if in the name, the description. [3] Use metaphors and epithets by way of illustration, taking care, however, to avoid what is too poetical. [4] Use the plural for the singular, after the manner of the poets, who, although there is only one harbor, say “ to Achaean harbors,

” and, “ Here are the many-leaved folds of the tablet.5

” [5] You should avoid linking up, but each word should have its own article: τῆς γυναικὸς τῆς ἡμετέρας. But for conciseness, the reverse: τῆς ἡμετέρας γυναικός. [6] Employ a connecting particle or for conciseness omit it, but avoid destroying the connection;

1 The deliberate intention to mislead.

2 σκεύη, “inanimate things,” the classification probably being male, female, and inanimate, not the grammatical one of masculine, feminine, and neuter.

3 Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535-475). His chief work was on Nature. From the harshness of his language and the carelessness of his style he was called σκοτεινός (the obscure). According to him, fire was the origin of all things; all things become fire, and then fire becomes all other things. All things are in a constant state of flux; all is the same and yet not the same. Knowledge is founded upon sensual perception, but only the gods possess knowledge in perfection.

4 Or, “although this reason exists for ever men are born . . . without understanding” (Welldon).

5 Eur. IT 727.

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