Poetics: Chapter 22 - Full Text

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Diction and Style: Ornaments of Style

      The perfection of Diction is for it to be clear without being mean. The clearest (style) indeed is that make up the ordinary or current words but it is mean, as is shown by the poetry of Cleophon and Sthenelus'. On the other hand, the Diction becomes distinguished and non-prosaic by the use of unfamiliar terms, i.e. strange words, metaphors, lengthened forms, and everything that deviates from the ordinary modes of speech. But a style composed wholly of such words will be either a riddle or a barbarism (Jargon): a riddle, if made up of metaphors, a barbarism (Jargon), if made up of strange words.

      Of the kinds of words we have enumerated it may be observed that compounds are most in place in the dithyramb (lyric), strange words in heroic, and metaphors in iambic poetry. Heroic poetry, indeed, may avail itself of them all. But in iambic verse, which models itself as far as possible on the spoken language, only those kinds of words are in place which is allowable also in an oration (Prose), i.e. the ordinary word, the metaphor, and the ornamental equivalent. Concerning Tragedy and imitation by means of action, this may suffice.

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