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Title: Hendiatris  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Rule of three (writing), Isocolon, Mottos, Eunomia (goddess), Hendiadys
Collection: Mottos, Rhetorical Techniques, Trios
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Hendiatris (from the Greek: ἓν διὰ τριῶν, hèn dià triôn, "one through three") is a figure of speech used for emphasis, in which three words are used to express one idea.[1][2] For example, the phrase sex, drugs and rock'n'roll as used to capture the life of a rock star is of this form. If the units involved are not single words, and if they are not in any way synonyms but rather circumnavigate the one idea expressed, the figure may be described more correctly, precisely, and succinctly as a triad. A tripartite motto is the conventional English term for a motto, a slogan, or an advertising phrase in the form of a hendiatris. Perhaps equally well known throughout the world are Julius Caesar's Veni, vidi, vici (an example of a tricolon) and the motto of the French Republic: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité; the phrase Peace, Order and Good Government is used as a guiding principle in the parliaments of the Commonwealth of Nations.


  • In the ancient and classical world 1
  • In Shakespeare 2
  • Since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment 3
  • Modern usages 4
  • See also 5
    • Related terms 5.1
    • Examples 5.2
  • See also 6
  • References 7

In the ancient and classical world

In rhetorical teaching, such triple iterations marked the classic rhythm of Ciceronian style, typified by the triple rhetorical questions of his first Oration Against Catiline:

Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quamdiu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata jactabit audacia?
Until when will you abuse our patience, Catiline? For how long will that madness of yours mock us? To what end will your unbridled boldness toss itself about?

In ancient Greece and Rome, such abstractions as liberty and justice were theologized. Hence the earliest tripartite mottoes are lists of the names of goddesses: Eunomia, Dike, and Eirene. These late Greek goddesses, respectively Good Order, Justice, and Peace were collectively referred to by the Romans as the Horae. The Romans had Concordia, Salus, and Pax, collectively called the Fortunae. The names of these mean Harmony, Health, and Peace.

In Shakespeare

Since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment

From the 18th century, the tripartite motto was primarily political. John Locke's Life, Liberty, and Property was adapted by Thomas Jefferson when he wrote the United States Declaration of Independence into Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which has become the American equivalent of the French triad listed above.

The initial Carlist motto was God, Country, King.

Modern usages

A Canadian usage is Peace, order and good government, originally found in the 1867 Constitution of Canada. It has remained, to this day, an essential part of the Canadian identity.

"Il nous faut de l'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace" — "We need audacity, and yet more audacity, and always audacity!" Georges Danton.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks adopted a tripartite motto for the Russian Revolution, "Peace, Land, and Bread." During the New Deal, the projects of the President were summed up as Relief, Recovery, and Reform. Later the form was used for strident fascist patter, such as Fascist Italy's Credere! Obbedire! Combattere! This means Believe! Obey! Fight!

A famous Nazi slogan is also tripartite: Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Führer!: "One people! One state! One leader!". The modern motto of Germany: "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" (Unity and Justice and Freedom) is inscribed on the side of German euro coins, as it was on Deutsche Mark coins.

During the German occupation of France, the Vichy regime replaced the motto of the Republic by Travail, Famille, Patrie (Work, Family, Fatherland).

The 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal aimed at three immediate goals: "Descolonização, Democratização, Desenvolvimento" (decolonization, democratization, development).

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has an initialistic motto: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity, while the United States Military Academy at West Point has Duty, Honor, Country. This concept has been extended to the list of core values of the U.S. armed services, such as the Navy's Honor, Courage, Commitment.

The University of Notre Dame has adopted God, Country, Notre Dame as an informal motto. The phrase first appeared on the First World War memorial located on the east portico of the basilica.

Royal Military College of Canada gilt & red velvet Victorian-era pin (Truth Duty Valour)

The Royal Military College of Canada has followed the tripartite motto "Truth, Duty, Valour" since the founding of the College in 1876. This motto was expanded into the Canadian Forces' core values.

Very often triple mottoes derive from a turn of oratory in a speech; for example Abraham Lincoln's of the people, by the people, for the people in his Gettysburg Address.

These are common throughout Western civilization, but also appear in other cultures. The Japanese said that during their boom years, illegal immigrants performed the work that was Kiken, Kitsui, Kitanai, or Dangerous, Difficult, (and/or) Dirty. Dravidian parties in southern India use the motto Duty, Dignity and Discipline (கடமை, கண்ணியம், கட்டுப்பாடு).

The form is so well known that it can be played upon, as in the three requisites of Real Estate ("Location, Location, Location"), and similarly with Tony Blair stating his priorities as a political leader to be "education, education and education".

In German society, the tripartite motto Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church) was first a late-19th-century slogan, and today is used sarcastically by young women to express their disdain for their traditional role in society.

One of the unofficial mottoes of

See also

Related terms

  • Hendiadys, one through two has one of the parts subordinate to the other
  • Tricolon, Isocolon of three parts, with the parts equivalent in structure, length and rhythm
  • Merism, denoting a whole by an enumeration of its parts
  • Triad


See also


  1. ^ Kevin WILSON; Jennifer WAUSON (3 August 2010). The AMA Handbook of Business Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Style, Grammar, Punctuation, Usage, Construction and Formatting. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. p. 216.  
  2. ^ Gregory T. Howard, Dictionary of Rhetorical Terms, p. 115
  3. ^ "The origins of "Rum, sodomy and the lash" — Churchill's alleged quip about British naval tradition…". this day inquotes. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2014.  One old variant, Rum, bum and concertina, parallels Wine, women and song.
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