Aspects of literary style: word order

Aspects of literary style: word order

Literary Style

Word Order and Sentence Structure

  • Get to grips with Herodotus’ unique use of word order in his narrative, which might be unusual to modern readers but was common in classical Greek literature.
  • Understand that in Ancient Greek sentences, the verb often comes last, and nouns are not always next to their adjectives.
  • Be aware that the importance of a word in a Greek sentence is often conveyed by its position in the sentence rather than its grammatical role.

Use of Tenses

  • Become familiar with Herodotus’s use of various tenses to indicate different aspects of time and sequence.
  • Recognise how the historical present tense is used in Herodotus’s writings to give a sense of immediacy.
  • Note that imperfect and aorist tenses can both be used to refer to past events, but with subtle differences.

Direct and Indirect Speech

  • Appreciate how Herodotus uses both direct and indirect speeches in his stories to disclose conversation and express the speaker’s perspective.
  • Understand that direct speech offers the exact words of the speaker, while indirect speech summarises the speaker’s words.
  • Understand that the use of indirect speech is often accompanied by change of tenses and pronouns, and the introduction of an ‘introductory’ verb such as ‘he said’ or ‘he announced’.

Lexical Choices

  • Observe the rich vocabulary that Herodotus uses while describing different regions, cultures, practices, and events.
  • Understand the significance of repetitive language, used by Herodotus to emphasise key themes or elements of his narrative.

Literary Techniques

Use of Dialogue and Narration

  • Consider how Herodotus employs dialogue and narrative to convey different perspectives and offer a comprehensive account of events.
  • Appreciate how dialect and sociolect differences are represented in the speech of various characters.

Use of Figurative Language

  • Watch for Herodotus’s use of similes, metaphors, and hyperboles to add vividness and emotional depth to his recounting of events.
  • Recognise the ironic tone Herodotus often adopts when discussing the fortunes and misfortunes of different characters.

Use of Rhetorical Devices

  • Understand the rhetorical devices such as anaphora (repetition of words at the beginning of phrases or sentences) and asyndeton (omission of conjunctions) used by Herodotus, not only to embellish his writing but also to create an emotional impact on the readers.