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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 23

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 23.—How the Various Styles Should Be Mingled.

52.  Now it is a matter of importance to determine what style should be alternated with what other, and the places where it is necessary that any particular style should be used.  In the majestic style, for instance, it is always, or almost always, desirable that the introduction should be temperate.  And the speaker has it in his discretion to use the subdued style even where the majestic would be allowable, in order that the majestic when it is used may be the more majestic by comparison, and may as it were shine out with greater brilliance from the dark background.  Again, whatever may be the style of the speech or writing, when knotty questions turn up for solution, accuracy of distinction is required, and this naturally demands the subdued style.  And accordingly this style must be used in alternation with the other two styles whenever questions of that sort turn up; just as we must use the temperate style, no matter what may be the general tone of the discourse, whenever praise or blame is to be given without any ulterior reference to the condemnation or acquittal of any one, or to obtaining the concurrence of any one in a course of action.  In the majestic style, then, and in the quiet likewise, both the other two styles occasionally find place.  The temperate style, on the other hand, not indeed always, but occasionally, needs the quiet style; for example, when, as I have said, a knotty question comes up to be settled, or when some points that are susceptible of ornament are left unadorned and expressed in the quiet style, in order to give greater effect to certain exuberances (as they may be called) of ornament.  But the temperate style never needs the aid of the majestic; for its object is to gratify, never to excite, the mind.


Next: Chapter 24

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