An Introduction to Hendiatris.

Hendiatris (derived from the Greek word ‘hèn dià triôn’ literally means “one through three” ), is the threefold scheme of HendiadysOpens in new window whereby three independent words are employed to express a single idea.

The famous tripartite Opens in new window, below, is a good example of hendiatris.

  • “money, power, and respect”

The figure, hendiatris simply involves; treating two elements of a group of three nouns as emphatic adjectives and/or modifier of the third. Observe the following examples.

Notable Examples of Hendiatris
  • All the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
  • Bullinger provides us an explanation of this example thus: ‘Now languages do not fall down; neither do they worship. Therefore, the words are used merely as a figure of speech being Hendiatris. All the people, yes – and people of all nations and languages, fell down and worshipped.’
  • For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory.
  • According to Bullinger, this scripture should be understood as follows: “for thine is the kingdom, yes - and the powerful and glorious kingdom too.” Thus, power and glory, two nouns, should be understood as nouns and as adjectives qualifying the third noun, kingdom.
  • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
    No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • Here, the two nouns – truth and life – are employed to modify the third one, way. That is to say, the verse should be understood to mean that Christ is the way – the true and living way.

Hendiatris as a framework for forming Tripartite Mottoes.

Hendiatris is the model through which various tripartite mottoes are formed. A tripartite motto is the conventional English term for a motto, a slogan, as well as an advertising phrase.

The famous ones are those of Julius Caesar’s Veni, vidi, vici (also an example of tricolon); Commonwealth of Nations guiding principle motto “Peace, Order and Good Government”; likewise the renown French Republic motto which reads “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”. Thousands other world establishments and prominent institutions made use of the framework of hendiatris as a basis to form their mottoes and/or slogans. A few of these are listed below:

  • “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity”
  • — The Federal Bureau of Investigation, USA
  • “Truth, Duty, Valour”
  • — Royal Military College of Canada
  • “Citius!, Altius!, Fortius!”
  • — Official motto of the Olympic
  • “Duty, Honor, Country”
  • — United States Military Academy
  • “Willing … Able … Ready”
  • — The Nigerian Airforce motto
  • “Peace, Land, and Bread.”
  • — The Russian Revolution motto
  • “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”
  • — The three R’s of the environment
  • “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”
  • — The American Patriotic slogan
Further Readings:
Wikipedia Hendiatris Opens in new window
Starling David Hunter, 3rd; The Compass of Light Volume 1: Figures of Speeach in the Great Invocation