IV.1 Introduction

§1. As a non-poetic genre, Classical historiography is not characterized by formal features such as meter or characters’ appearances on stage. [1] Still, at the level of discourse articulation, historiography shares with epic, lyric, and drama some fundamental aspects. For example, it has in common with epic the use of different strategies to ensure a comprehensible narrative progression. It has in common with lyric the use of self-presentation devices to establish the authorial persona. Finally, it has in common with Classical drama the agonistic juxtaposition of different views on a common “stage,” in line with contemporary oratory and philosophy. All these genres incorporate different voices and stances in various forms.
§2. Reflections on intertextuality, content patterns, and allusions to other genres in the language have always been part of scholarship on Classical historiography. The same holds for attention to keywords and motives underscoring crucial concepts, either in relation to the historians’ methodology or their Weltanschauung. A more recent addition is the study of historiographical language with a focus on how content is presented. That is, scholars are beginning to pay more attention to the linguistic and narrative strategies enacted by Herodotus and Thucydides. [2]
§3. Part IV complements and adds to the existing literature on language in Herodotus’ and Thucydides’ Histories. The general theoretical framework used in the arguments and the analyses is the same as in Parts II and III. Particles and particle combinations are privileged linguistic items for the purposes of our investigations; however, they are consistently seen as a manifestation of more comprehensive features, all of them reflecting the holistic notion of discourse. [3] The following section illustrates what these comprehensive features are, and how they are thematized in the different chapters.

1.1 Themes and examples

§4. The first two chapters discuss two fundamental mechanisms in the articulation of discourse—which in fact transcend the genre of historiography. One is the sequential addition of pieces of content through and-coordination. The other is segmentation, which encompasses larger and smaller units as well as stronger and weaker boundaries of discourse. IV.2 and IV.3 explore the contribution of particles to these mechanisms, with a view toward deepening our knowledge of particles’ capabilities as discourse articulation devices.
§5. What motivates the study of the first mechanism, and-coordination, is that its apparent simplicity belies its real complexity. The complexity is due to the fact that coordinating conjunctions/particles give rise to a wide range of inferences. Canonical descriptions of their functions acknowledge only some of them. This is particularly true for δέ, τε, and καί. To exemplify the problem, let us consider καί in this passage (discussed in IV.2 (t65)):
ὡς δὲ ἐχθροὶ καὶ ἔχθιστοι, πάντες ἴστε, οἵ γε ἐπὶ τὴν ἡμετέραν ἦλθον δουλωσόμενοι, …
Thucydides 7.68.2
It will be clear to all of you that the Athenians are not only enemies but the worst of enemies. They came against our country to enslave it. (tr. Hammond)
This is an excerpt from a speech by the Spartan commander Gylippus to the Spartans. In ἐχθροὶ καὶ ἔχθιστοι, is καί a conjunction or a focus particle? How do we explain the interpretation “or” in a reformulating function (“or, better to say”)? Neither question is easy to answer if we assume that καί either means “and” or “also”/“even.” Secondary literature is largely silent about and-coordination in Herodotus and Thucydides. [4] IV.2 shows that we can better understand δέ, τε, and καί if we take new factors into consideration, such as which portions of discourse are linked, what the linking signifies, and, in the case of δέ, what kind of discontinuity is expressed by its co-text.
§6. The second important mechanism of discourse articulation is segmentation. Segmentation ranges from boundaries between phrases to book divisions. IV.3 tackles the problem of how our modern segmentation strategies may obscure implications carried by particles and particle combinations. Modern segmentation strategies include syntactic interpretation of boundaries (a linguistic feature), and punctuation plus chapter/section divisions (paralinguistic features). To exemplify the problem, let us consider one of the passages commented on in the chapter (IV.3 (t30)):
μὲν δὴ δίαιταν εἶχε ἐν Κροίσου, ἐν δὲ τῷ αὐτῷ χρόνῳ τούτῳ ἐν τῷ Μυσίῳ
Ὀλύμπῳ ὑὸς χρῆμα γίνεται μέγα· …
Herodotus 1.36.1
So Adrastus lived in Croesus’ house. About this same time a great monster of a boar appeared on the Mysian Olympus, … (tr. Godley)
The comma in print editions of the Greek text does not do justice to the scene change. While “So Adrastus lived in Croesus’ house” temporarily closes a scene, “About this same time a great monster” opens a totally different one—in his translation Godley signals this change by turning the comma into a full stop. The use of μὲν δή and δέ reflects this major semantic and cognitive boundary more precisely than the comma does. IV.3 puts this disjunction in larger context by challenging secondary literature that attributes different periodic styles directly to the two historians rather than to the textual transmission and various “posthumous” segmentation strategies.
§7. The inclusion of voices and stances other than those of the author is another central topic in discourse articulation. This part of the analysis (IV.4) engages with recent literature that delves into the issues of point of view and focalization in Herodotus and Thucydides. [5] One important question to ask when tracking different voices and stances is how and when particles reflect the speaker’s attitude(s) in speeches, and how and when they reflect the author’s in explicit and implicit authorial statements. We should also ask if particles contribute to signaling someone’s voice and/or stance in third-person narration when that narration can be recognized as indirect speech, indirect thought, or free indirect thought. Once again, complexity is to be taken into account, as boundaries between the contributions of individuals are often blurred.
§8. The use of δή is paradigmatic in this respect; let us look briefly at one instance. Once the Athenians realize that the Syracusans have proved to be victorious at sea as well as on land, Thucydides describes their emotions as follows:
… οἱ μὲν Ἀθηναῖοι ἐν παντὶ δὴ ἀθυμίας ἦσαν …
Thucydides 7.55.1
The Athenians were in absolutely complete despair (tr. Hammond, slightly adapted)
It is difficult to judge how much δή, which in conveying conviction marks the expression of stance, is attributable to the Athenians, and how much to the historian. IV.4 discusses the communicative roles of γε, τοι, ἦ μήν, δή, δῆθεν, ἤδη, and ἄρα. The chapter not only shows that language can privilege stance (taken as a combination of positioning, evaluating, and aligning), but it also claims that irony and polyphony are deliberately generated to create alliances between author and audience, or between audience and characters.
§9. The observations contained in IV.2, IV.3, and IV.4 converge in a sample of close readings in IV.5. Four excerpts—a narrative section and a speech for each author—are closely examined to demonstrate how our comprehension of the flow of discourse changes if we consider segmentation clues alongside the syntactic ones, and clues about voice and stance. Chunking the discourse is a matter of inferring stronger and weaker boundaries from certain linguistic and paralinguistic features. I compare the segmentation indicated by canonical layouts of print editions with inferences that we can draw from the position of particles, from pragmatic interpretations of discourse acts, and from medieval punctuation. In addition, I consider the effects of lexical repetition, and the location of expressions attributable to someone’s voice and/or someone’s act of evaluating, positioning, and aligning. The difference resulting from the comparison is remarkable: reading and interpreting content depends very much on the kind of segmentation that is privileged, as well as on assumptions about whose voice and stance is conveyed at any moment. [6]

1.2 A different perspective on historiographical texts

§10. Paying attention to particles changes the way we read Herodotus and Thucydides, and shows the advantages of using a certain methodology. To be specific: [7] viewing δέ, τε, and καί as existing on a functional continuum, instead of making sharp dichotomous distinctions (“either this function or that”), allows us to explain phenomena that otherwise tend to end up in unspecified categories (such as “difficult cases,” [8] “emphatic” or “superfluous” functions [9] ). Continuums range from connective to adverbial usages, and from propositional to nonpropositional contributions to meaning. To note a couple of cases in point: a discourse-based analysis of Herodotus’ and Thucydides’ texts better appreciates the uses shared by δή and ἤδη; it also allows us to differentiate between ὡς δ’ ἄρα and εἰ ἄρα, even if both represent instances of ἄρα in subclauses. On a practical level, instead of applying standard translations of δέ, τε, and καί, the reader of the Histories is given a range of suggestions about implications or enrichments that she can consider: what is linked to what, what the underlying communicative actions are, and what counts as a new unit.
§11. An active reading that does not apply pre-fabricated translations but co-constructs meaning along with the author opens possibilities that for too long have been underestimated and understudied. Several of these possibilities have to do with the segmentation of the text. The primacy of syntactic divisions and hierarchies obscures the importance of further divisions, such as discourse units above and below the sentence level. The occurrence of ταῦτα μέν metalinguistically indicates the temporary closure of an episode or account; μέν in this case does not just anticipate a δέ clause (if it does at all). Likewise, phrases isolated by subsequent “second position” particles (e.g. Σικελίας γὰρ | περίπλους μέν…, Thucydides 6.1.2; see IV.3 (t15)) are fragmentary and semantically incomplete, but act as guiding elements of discourse that ensure the successful processing of several upcoming segments.
§12. If we conceive of the text as a sequence of moves achieving communicative goals, further articulated into acts, more attention is given to the words transmitted than to modern punctuation marks and chapter/section divisions. The reading procedure is inverted as a result: instead of almost exclusively relying on the modern paralinguistic segmentation of the text in order to frame and shape contents, we can observe word order and the location of particles and particle combinations, and derive segmentation of content from that.
§13. Particles offer a further kind of clue: some of them (δῆθεν and δή invariably, ἤδη in most co-texts, and ἄρα only to a limited extent) help track voice and stance. Their occurrence signals that an individual’s sense of certainty or determination, her firsthand observation or perception, or simply her voice is accessed, for various purposes, and in various textual settings. On the practical level, this means that we count on some particles, among other co-occurring features, to detect the non-uniformity of third person narration, which includes indirect speech, indirect thought, and free indirect thought.
§14. Moreover, we may see the particles mentioned above as economical tools that compress in one word a pragmatically complex network of relations among subjects. Once again, thinking beyond “either or” solutions enhances our appreciation of literary subtleties, such as polyphony and irony. The pragmatic enrichment of a particle may pertain to the merging of voices and stances, or, conversely, it may signal a distance, a gap between the author’s voice and a character’s. In this case too readers must read actively: as subjects involved in the pragmatic network like characters and authors, readers are indirectly invited by the particles to react, to take position, and to evaluate events or further positions and evaluations.
§15. Let me conclude with remarks on similarities and differences in particle use between the two masterpieces. First, particles contribute to the segmentation of discourse in relatively small chunks in speeches as well as in narrator text in both works. This conclusion challenges the common view that Thucydides’ sentences and periods are longer. Further, Herodotus is more generous than Thucydides in using particle combinations to round off or recap accounts. Herodotus also uses more particles than Thucydides to signal the author’s voice, through explicit authorial statements and the marking of narrative progression. Perhaps this tendency reflects the aural character of Herodotus’ reception. In any case, in both historians particles pertain to performance in a broad sense: in both authors they indicate how language is used; they are hinges between content and presentation.


[ back ] 1. Meter should not be completely ruled out from Greek Classical prose. Besides ancient and modern evidence about prose colometry (on which see IV.3.6), some scholarly attention has been devoted to clausulae that follow certain metrical schemes, partially inspired by a posteriori evidence from Cicero and Quintilian. Lamb (1914:241-272), for example, offers remarkable insights on clausulae and metrical features in Thucydides’ narrative style.
[ back ] 2. Works that particularly influenced the writing of part IV include: Müller 1980 on clause combination in Herodotus; Bakker 1991 on temporal subclauses in Herodotus; Walker 1993 on enargeia in Greek historiography; Dik 1995 on word order and particles in Herodotus; Yaginuma 1995 on links between Thucydides’ language and the process of reading; Lang 1995 on the use of participles in Thucydides; Wakker 1997b on modal particles in Herodotus and Thucydides; Bakker 1997c and 2007 on aspect and tense in Thucydides; Slings 2002, on several Herodotean “oral strategies”; Allan 2007 on complex sentences in Thucydides; De Bakker 2007 on direct speech in Herodotus; Scardino 2007 and 2012 on direct and indirect speech in both authors; Lallot, Rijksbaron, Jacquinod, and Buijs 2011 on the historical present in Thucydides. As for narratological aspects of Herodotus’ work, I particularly profited from De Jong 2004a, 2013, and 2014:167-195. As for focalization in Thucydides, see n5.
[ back ] 3. See I.1 §7, and IV.3.9.
[ back ] 4. An exception is the discussion in Dover 1997a:71-77; see IV.2 n215.
[ back ] 5. E.g. Dewald 1999; Hornblower 1994; Allan 2013; Grethlein 2013b; Lamari 2013 (about focalization); Greenwood 2006:19-41 (about point of view and vantage point).
[ back ] 6. More specific topics and concepts are illustrated in the individual introductions (IV.2.1, IV.3.1, IV.4.1, and IV.5.1).
[ back ] 7. For more specific findings, see IV.2.5; IV.3.12, IV.4.10, and IV.5.6.
[ back ] 8. See, for example, the fourth section of καί in Denniston (1950:325), which is devoted to “special difficulties.”
[ back ] 9. See, for example, the view according to which τε in τε καί is superfluous (IV.2 n110).