Pliny: Do you believe in ghosts? - Style notes

grandior pulchriorque
(Super-human size and beauty) The use of comparative adjectives stresses the mystery of the ghost.
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iturum... gesturum... reversurum... moriturum.
(He would go... would hold... he would return... he would die). The use of future infinitives stresses the woman telling the future. It creates a homoioteleuton.
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Facta sunt omnia.
(Everything happend) Matter of a simple fact. This adds truth to the prediction.
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narratur (line 12)
(Reported) This shows that the matter has been reported and is therefore highly reliable and true!
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futura praeteritis, adversa secundis
(Future from the past and misfortune from success) The word are next to eachother and therefore show contrast. This is called juxta position.
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magis terribile... infamis et pestilens.
(more terrifying... notorious and dangerous). These are balanced phrases.
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non minus mirum est
(no less amazing) The double negatives are used to stress a positive. The alliteration of Ms also stresses how amazing the story is.
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si attenderes
(if you listen) The word of 'you' draws us in to the story and creates a tense atmosphere.
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Silentium noctis sonus... si attenderes acrius, strepitus
The sibilance creates a soothing sound of silence and therefore mystery.
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cruribus compedes... quatiebatque.
(Fetters on his legs... and shaking) The harsh sounds of Cs and Qs creates the sound of rattling chains.
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Deserta... damnata... relicta
(Deserted... condemned... abandoned) This is a tricolon of three words to make the house sound more terrifying.
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timoris timor
(Of their fear... their fear) This is a polyptoton - the same word but a different form.
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prima domus parte
(The front part of the house) This shows that Athendorous was brave.
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tollere... remittere... obfirmare... praetendere... crebrescere... adventare
(Lift... put down... steeled... blocked... increased... advanced) All these infinitives speed up the narrative; giving intense and quick action.
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(Walked) By the verb being positioned at the beginning of the sentence, it stresses immediate action.
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Ibat illa lento gradu quasi gravis
(It walked with a slow step as if weighed down...) The sequence of 2 syllable words slows the narrative. This resembles the slow beat of footsteps.
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non illiteratus
(Not uneducated) The double negatives emphasises the positive - Marcus is a believable witness.
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Ubi illuxit...
(When it grew - light) This setting reveals normality but... it really has happened.
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venerant per fenestras (ita narrat) in tunicis albis duo cubantemque detonderunt et, qua venerant, recesserunt.
(Two men in white tunics (so he says) came through the windows and shaved him as he lay (there) and left by the way they had come). The subject of 'duo' is delayed - provotes interest.
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et mihi discendi et tibi docendi facultatem
(an opportunity for bother me to learn and for you to teach). At the very beginning, the pair of echoing gerunds make for a nicely balanced start. Will Pliny's scientific study be equally balanced?
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inclinato die
(in the afternoon) in hot countries this is siesta time, so the streets would be deserted, making it a good time for a ghost to appear.
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accedenti... egredientique
(he was arriving... and leaving) These two present participles, with opposirte meaning, echo one another.
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longius primo, deinde e proximo
(at first further away, then very close by) The word order (such an A-B-B-A pattern is a literary device known as chiasmus) allows us to see the ghost inexorably approaching its victim.
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vigilabantur; vigiliam
(... were spent awake... sleeplessness) Notice the juxta position of these two words to emphasise the lack of sleep.
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respicit, videt, agnoscitque
(He looked round, he saw and recognised...) These three consecutive verbs show that he is definately not imagining this.
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(the ghost) Emphatic position as it is at the end of the sentence. Gives focus on the ghost.
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stabat innuebatque digito
(It was standing there and beckoning its finger...) The sentence starts unusually with two verbs, showing the ghost's presence and insistance. The Philosopher's hand answers the ghost's beckoning finger.
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paulum exspectaret
(to wait a little) This is not what we are expecting, but Athenodorus is so calm that he asks the ghost to wait a little. It is clear, however, that he is in full control and is still taking the situation seriously.
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capiti catenas
(the chains over the head...) the alliteration of the letters c and t echo the sound of the rattling chains. The rattler is getting impatient!
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deserit... desertus
(abandoned... deserted) There is no doubt that the Philosopher has been left entirely on his own. By repeating the verb Pliny adds to the mystery and suspense.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


iturum... gesturum... reversurum... moriturum.


(He would go... would hold... he would return... he would die). The use of future infinitives stresses the woman telling the future. It creates a homoioteleuton.

Card 3


Facta sunt omnia.


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


narratur (line 12)


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


futura praeteritis, adversa secundis


Preview of the front of card 5
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