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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

discontinuous syntax in Ajax

The following are some examples of discontinuous syntax in Ajax.

Sophocles Ajax 793-794 Eng. Trans. R.C. Jebb Perseus/Tufts.

οὐκ οἶδα τὴν σὴν πρᾶξιν, Αἴαντος δ᾽ ὅτι,
θυραῖος εἴπερ ἐστίν, οὐ θαρσῶ πέρι.

I have no clue of your condition, but know only that, if Ajax is away, I have little hope for him.

Hyperbaton or discontinuous syntax is evident in the distance between Αἴαντος … πέρι. The conditional construction θυραῖος εἴπερ ἐστίν, οὐ θαρσῶ is bounded by the proper noun Αἴαντος and the postpositive πέρι. In other words: “I don’t know about your situation  [οὐκ οἶδα τὴν σὴν πρᾶξιν] … concerning Ajax [ Αἴαντος … πέρι] if he is out and about [θυραῖος εἴπερ ἐστίν], I have no confidence [οὐ θαρσῶ].
When an element from a phrase/clause is broken off and placed within another phrase/clause which results in yet another discontinuity within the second phrase/clause, this is called interlaced hyperbaton. 

Sophocles, Ajax 804
οἲ 'γώ, φίλοι, πρόστητ᾽ ἀναγκαίας τύχης,
καὶ σπεύσαθ᾽, οἱ μὲν Τεῦκρον ἐν τάχει μολεῖν
οἱ δ᾽ ἑσπέρους ἀγκῶνας, οἱ δ᾽ ἀντηλίους
ζητεῖτ᾽ ἰόντες τἀνδρὸς ἔξοδον κακήν.

Ah, me! My friends, protect me from the doom threatened by fate!
Hurry, some of you, to speed Teucer's coming;
let others go to the westward bays, and others to the eastward,
and there seek the man's disastrous path.

οἱ δ᾽ ἑσπέρους ἀγκῶνας, οἱ δ᾽ ἀντηλίους … ἰόντες
let others go to the westward bays, and others to the eastward

ζητεῖτ᾽ ... τἀνδρὸς ἔξοδον κακήν
seek the man's disastrous path

The tail end of the participle clause ἀντηλίους … ἰόντες  is interlaced with the beginning of the main (finite verb) clause ζητεῖτ᾽ ... τἀνδρὸς.

For more examples with commentary, read

Hyperbaton in theGreek Literary SentenceDaniel Markovic, Nov. 2005   


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