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

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 (cf. triple deity). 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.

The University of North Carolina's Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies maintain such tripartite mottos as well. The Philanthropic Society's motto is Virtus, Libertas, et Scientia "Virtue, Liberty, and Knowledge" and the Joint Senate motto is Ad Virtutem, Libertatem, Scientiamque "Toward Virtue, Liberty, and Knowledge".

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, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace !" — "We must be bold, and again bold, and forever bold!" 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" and the Coast Guard's "Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty".

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 (in Tamil 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 Yale University is "For God, for country, and for Yale," which appears as the last line of the university's alma mater, Bright College Years. Yale historian George W. Pierson has also described Yale as "at once a tradition, a company of scholars, a society of friends."

A commonly used patriotic slogan in Poland is Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna (lit. “God, Honour, Fatherland”).

See also

Related terms


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. ISBN 978-0-8144-1590-0. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  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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