did the glorious Greek of old fancy

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enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)

Question: In this sentence, since I saw the word “did” I expect another verb1! But it continues with “to be”? What I got it from this: Greek fancy did not do (or bring forward that theory) “the human soul to be essentially a harmony” in merely… Am I right?

Not in a spirit of foolish speculation altogether, in no merely transcendental mood, did the glorious Greek of old fancy the human soul to be essentially a harmony. And if we grant that theory of Paracelsus and Campanella, that every man has four souls within him;
 
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    The collocation of the words is:

    Not in a spirit of foolish speculation altogether/did the glorious Greek of old/fancy the human soul to be essentially a harmony.

    A rough translation:

    It was not simply foolish speculation when the ancient Greeks thought/imagined the human soul as a 'harmony'.

    'fancy' = imagine
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s a fairly standard use of inversion, with the adverbial matter fronted for emphasis:

    Not in a spirit of foolish speculation altogether, in no merely transcendental mood, …
    (= Not just frivolously…)
    did the glorious Greek of old fancy (= imagine/consider) the human soul to be essentially a harmony.
     
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