Friday, December 29, 2006

The ultimate run-on sentence

One of Mama Squirrel's ongoing projects involves writing study notes for some of Plutarch's Lives. It's challenging but enjoyable; I probably learn more by writing the notes than people do by using them. Anyway, everybody complains about Plutarch's very long sentences, and Mr. Dryden's English translation does nothing to alleviate those. (I don't think Plutarch's Greek has punctuation at the ends of sentences anyway, but somebody can correct me if I'm wrong.)

Anyway, I came across a doozy of a Plutarch sentence this morning, and I wondered what the English composition teachers would make of this one.

"These measures he carried in the assembly, against the opposition, as Stesimbrotus relates, of Miltiades; and whether or no he hereby injured the purity and true balance of government may be a question for philosophers, but that the deliverance of Greece came at that time from the sea, and that these galleys restored Athens again after it was destroyed, were others wanting, Xerxes himself would be sufficient evidence, who, though his land-forces were still entire, after his defeat at sea, fled away, and thought himself no longer able to encounter the Greeks; and, as it seems to me, left Mardonius behind him, not out of any hopes he could have to bring them into subjection, but to hinder them from pursuing him. "

Maybe Plutarch worked for the ministry of education in his spare time.


Lisa said...

Wow. That's a doozie!

Gail said...

I think we are often afraid of writing sentences that may be considered "run-on sentences" from years of grammar class abuse. That sentence, however, is even more than I can handle in one sitting. Maybe Plutarch didn't have to sit through ridiculous grammar classes year after year of his precious childhood. I think he did rather well with himself in spite of this obvious defect in his education, though. ;)