Words worth their weight

short but sweet, ?


I’ve written before about economy in writing. I believe that, often, the way to go is to make each word count, rather than throwing a big mixed bag of them at the reader in the hope that some stick.

800px-Leonidas_King_of_the_SpartansSo here’s my favourite example of economical writing. It comes not from literature but from ancient history and the dry wit of the war machine which was Sparta.

In 346BC, the mighty Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, had used the power of his imperial armies to conquer most of the Greek territories and finally turned his attention to the Spartan city-state. He offered them a deal, they could avoid the devastation which would surely follow by surrendering and submitting to his rule. He sent them a letter:

“You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your…

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