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I'm trying to puzzle out the syntax of a passage from Dionysius of Halicarnassus' Demosthenes (chapter 2). Dionysius is talking about styles of speech (λέξις), and has just finished discussing the first of three styles, the "high" style of Thucydides and others. Moving on to the second, he says

ἡ δὲ ἑτέρα λέξις ἡ λιτὴ καὶ ἀφελὴς καὶ δοκοῦσα κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην ἔχειν λόγον καὶ ὁμοιότητα πολλοὺς μὲν ἔσχε καὶ ἀγαθοὺς ἄνδρας προστάτας συγγραφεῖς τε καὶ φιλοσόφους καὶ ῥήτορας.

I've boldfaced the part I find puzzling. The stuff before and after it is straightforward:

The second (style of) speech, the plain and simple and ..., has had many worthy proponents, historians and philosophers and orators.

But what about "καὶ δοκοῦσα κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην ἔχειν λόγον καὶ ὁμοιότητα"? It's clearly meant as a third attribute of this style: the one which "seems" (δοκοῦσα) to... well, to do something involving "artistry and power" (κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν), "to a layman" (πρὸς ἰδιώτην), "speech" (λόγον) and "similarity" (ὁμοιότητα), but how to put these together?

Stephen Usher, in the Loeb edition, brackets the καί of καὶ ὁμοιότητα, emending in effect to:

ἡ δὲ ἑτέρα λέξις ἡ λιτὴ καὶ ἀφελὴς καὶ δοκοῦσα κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην ἔχειν λόγον ὁμοιότητα πολλοὺς μὲν ἔσχε καὶ ἀγαθοὺς ἄνδρας προστάτας συγγραφεῖς τε καὶ φιλοσόφους καὶ ῥήτορας.

His translation:

The second kind of style is plain and simple. Its artistry and power seem to consist in its resemblance to the language of ordinary speech. This style had many successful exponents among the historians, the philosophers and the orators.

The translation is syntactically quite free, and I don't understand how he gets "Its artistry and power seem to consist in its resemblance to the language of ordinary speech" from "δοκοῦσα κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην ἔχειν λόγον ὁμοιότητα". Also, Usener's Teubner edition does not bracket the καἰ or make any other emendations (or mark the passage as corrupt), so Usener must have seen a reading for the passage as it stands.

Ideas?

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Great question! After some staring, I think I've realized the key to translating this passage: ἰδιώτην is being used as an adjective modifying λόγον.

This usage is confirmed by Lewis and Short...citing this very passage!

A.II.3.: as Adj., ἰ. βίος private station, Pl.R.578c; ἰ. λόγος everyday speech, D.H.Dem.2, cf. Longin.31.2.

Here is how I would conceptualize the syntactic units:

  • δοκοῦσα...ἔχειν: seeming to have
  • κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν...καὶ ὁμοιότητα: the artistry, power, and likeness
  • τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην...λόγον: found in everyday speech

I see the τὴν as introducing an adjectival prepositional phrase in the attributive position: although it is singular and directly applied only to ἰσχὺν, it seems fairly clear (especially from ὁμοιότητα) that it is meant to apply to all three nouns.

Plugging this in to your translation:

The second (style of) speech [is] plain and simple, seeming to have the artistry, power, and likeness characteristic of everyday speech, [and] has had many worthy proponents, historians and philosophers and orators.

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    One other possibility is that somehow δοκοῦσα introduces an acc + sing., but my (bad) ear has trouble hearing that without a person. This would make it something like: "seeming like [its] artistry and power have a likeness to everyday speech." Do you think that could work?
    – brianpck
    Apr 25 '17 at 0:02
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    On second thought, I realize that this second reading (in the comments) only works without a καὶ...which explains the excision!
    – brianpck
    Apr 25 '17 at 0:04
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    Taking ἰδιώτην as an adjective does seem to work -- I think that must be it! Just to clarify, the καί still has to go, right? A more English-like order would be δοκοῦσα ἔχειν τὴν ὁμοιότητα τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην λόγον (as its) κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν -- if I'm understanding your reading correctly. (The word order stills seems incredibly convoluted to me, so much so that I wonder if there's some (other) corruption in the passage.)
    – TKR
    Apr 25 '17 at 1:23
  • Also I'm not sure if πρὸς ἰδιώτην λόγον works without an article -- it seems to me it would more likely be πρὸς τὸν ἰδιώτην λόγον if this is the sense.
    – TKR
    Apr 25 '17 at 4:00
  • @TKR My reading was more that κατασκευήν, ἰσχὺν, and ὁμοιότητα are all the objects of ἔχειν--I'm not sure if the kind of double direct object you suggest would be permitted. My bolded translation shows how I construe it, but I should emphasize that my Greek knowledge is very passive.
    – brianpck
    Apr 25 '17 at 18:12

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