Hysteron Proteron in the Aeneid I-VI

Roland G. Kent
1909 The Classical Weekly  
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more » ... out Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. THE CLASSICAL WEEKLY HYSTERON PROTERON IN THE AENEID I-VI' Moriamur et in media armia ruamnus! Every one of us will, I am sure, admit that this verse contained in it, when we first read it in our school days, certain elements of humor, which we felt the more strongly because our teachers objected to our amusement. Were we right, or were our teachers? Is there something peculiar in the verse, or is it merely our imagination? 'Let us die, and let us rush into the thick of the fight!' At first sight we surely have before us an inversion of the natural temporal sequence of the two acts; and it surprises us to find that in certain school editions of the Aeneid, for it is of school editions merely that I intend to speak, the reality of this phenomenon is denied. Hysteron proteron, according to two of my five American grammars, is the reversal of the natural order of words or phrases. In this paper I desire to discuss the following points: What is hysteron pro- teron, when defined more narrowly? Does it really occur? How often does it occur, if it is a reality? How is such an illogical arrangement of the ideas to be explained? What is its importance for the teaching of the secondary schools? Hysteron proteron is the inversion of the natural temporal sequence of words and clauses. The difficulty that meets us will be to determine what is the logical order. That has been interpreted strictly as follows: of two acts not simultaneous, the prior act should logically precede; when of two acts one is the cause of the other, the cause logically precedes the result-granted always that the two acts are expressed paratactically. Of two acts not simultaneous, the verse already cited (2.353) is a good example; of two acts related as cause and effect, an example is 2.655 Rursus in arma feror mortemque miserrimnus opto, 'Again in the height of my misery I lolng for death, and am rushing off into the fight'. Now the two expressions that are in a hysteron proteron relation must be expressed paratactically: they must therefore be expressed with a connecting coordinating conjunction, or asyndetically. First let us consider the cases in which the words meaning 'and' are used: et, atque (ac), -que. These of course have many uses, in addition to the meaning 'and' with a temporal or cause-and-result idea. They may merely add two or more things together; they may introduce a second element which but amplifies or defines the first; they may mean 'but', 'also', 'even', 'or'; in combination with special words they may have other meanings. With negative or adversative connectives the negative or adversative idea is such as almost or quite to preclude the supposition of hysteron proteron though occasionally we seem to find it, as in 1.37-38 Mene incepto desistere victam nec posse Italia Teucrorum avertere regem! 'To
doi:10.2307/4386122 fatcat:uek44swmpfaidbzeltmxie54ja