6. On Rhapsody (ῥαψῳδία).
A Rhapsody is a part of a poem including a certain (definite) argument. It is called a rhapsody, that is, rhabdody, because those who recited the Homeric poems were girt with a laurel branch (ῥάβδος).
There are twenty-four letters from α to ω. They are called letters (γράμματα) from being formed of lines and scratches. For to write (γράψαι), among the ancients, meant to scratch (ξύσαι), as in Homer:
νῦν δέ μ᾽ ἐπιγράψας ταρσὸν ποδὸς εὔχεαι αὔτως.
They are also called elements (στοιχεῖα) from being in a certain series (στοιχός) or arrangement. Of these letters, seven are Vowels: α, ε, η, ι, ο, υ, and ω. They are called vowels (φωνήεντα) because they form a complete sound (φωνή) by themselves. Of the vowels, two are long, η and ω; two are short, ε and ο; and three are doubtful, α, ι, υ. They are called doubtful because they may be either lengthened or shortened. Five of the vowels are prepositive, α, ε, η, ο, ω. They are called prepositive because, when placed before ι or υ, they form a syllable, as αι, αυ. Two are subjunctive, ι and υ. Υ is sometimes prepositive to ι, as in μυῖα, ἅρπυια, υἱός, and the like. There are six diphthongs, αι, αυ, ει, ευ, οι, ου. The remaining seventeen letters are Consonants, β, γ, δ, ζ, θ, κ, λ, μ, ν, ξ, π, ρ, σ, τ, φ, χ, ψ. They are called consonants because by themselves they have no sound, but produce a sound only when they are combined with vowels.
- Cf. Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 141, note; Wolf. Proleg., pp. 58 sqq. (Edit. Calvary); K. O. Müller, Hist. of Lit. of Ancient Greece, pp. 33 sqq.
- On Στοιχεῖον, vid. Aristotle, Metaph. I. 1 (1026, b. 12); Bonitz, Aristotelis Metaph. pp. 225 sq.; Schmidt, Beiträge, pp. 80 sqq., 126. Aristotle's definition of στοιχεῖον, as meaning a sound, is: "An element is an indivisible sound, not applicable, however, to every such sound, but only to those which are capable of entering into the formation of intelligible speech." — Poet. cap. xx. Cf. Steinthal, Gesch. der Sprachw. bei den Gr. und Röm., pp. 248 sq.
- Δίχρονοι = of twofold time. Cf. Rossbach und Westphal, Metrik der Griech., vol. ii. pp. 66 sqq.
- Aristotle, Poetics, cap. xx., makes three divisions of sounds — τό τε φωνῆεν και τὸ ἡμίφωνον καὶ ἄφωνον — vowels, semivowels, and mutes. Cf. with the whole of Dionysios' classification, Schleicher, Compend. der verg. Grammatik der