Consonance and Assonance in Philippians 1:9-10

The holidays wreak havoc on one’s schedule. The regime of one’s day is thrown into disarray. As soon as our holiday started, my memorization of Philippians became a distant thought of the past. Last night on our drive home from Wilmington, however, Mary Beth and Elijah fell asleep, so I decided to refresh, relearn, and add.

When I came across Philippians 1:9-10, I memorized it in about 2 mins because of the consonance (similar sounding consonants) and assonance (similar sounding vowels) therein. Here are verses 9-10:

Καὶ τοῦτο προσεύχομαι, ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν ἔτι μᾶλλον καὶ μᾶλλον περισσεύῃ ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ πάσῃ αἰσθήσει  10 εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τὰ διαφέροντα, ἵνα ἦτε εἰλικρινεῖς καὶ ἀπρόσκοποι εἰς  ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ

More specifically, I’m referring to this section: περισσεύ ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ πάσῃ αἰσθήσει εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν, “perisseuē en epignōsei kai pa aisthhsei eis  to dokimazein” The repetition of the “s” sound through the use of a σ or ζ creates consonance, while the repetition of the “ei” sound through the use of η or the diphthong ει creates assonance. Whether or not Paul used these literary devices intentionally, the text has sticking power and rolls off the tongue.

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5 Responses to Consonance and Assonance in Philippians 1:9-10

  1. jdhomie says:

    Jacob, I just stumbled across your blog, and coincidentally I am translating Philippians right now as a winter break project. I like the idea of memorizing. Is this the first time you’ve done it?

    • jacobcerone says:


      This is the first time I have attempted to memorize Greek. It has been an interesting experience so far. I’m not sure how beneficial it will prove to be in the long run, but am hoping that the effort I put into it will pay off.

      Also, know that in terms of the “oral” component of my Greek studies, memorizing Philippians is it. There are many proponents of the Living Language approach to learning Koine Greek, though I’m not one.

  2. Pingback: Internalizing the sounds of Philippians. | Linguae Antiquitatum

  3. Dave Black says:

    Awesome! Maybe another YouTube video forthcoming?

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