Hi, All,

I will be glad if someone help me to analyze this excerpt:

"I cannot see how one can say of Helen not only that hers was the face that launched a thousand ships but, in addition, that she was responsible for (and did not merely cause ) the Torjan War, if the war was soley to something that was the result not of a free choice to elope with Paris which Helen need not have made, but only of her irresistable beauty." (Isaia Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty: p.xiv)

cheers,

Ali
You need to look at this phrase in its entirety: 'hers was the face that launched a thousand ships'. This is a famous quote about Helen - her face was so beautiful that Paris stole her away, and a thousand ships were launched to get her back/get revenge. It blames her beauty as the cause of the war.

For future reference, you haven't copied out the quote correctly, there are a couple of spelling mistakes (i.e. Trojan) and I suspect a word is missing here: the war was soley (spelling mistake) to something'. This doesn't make it easy to analyse something- you need to be 100% accurate in your copying if you are asking for help otherwise people's comments could be completely wrong.
Dear Nona,

I apologize for the spelling mistakes. I rewite it again:

I cannot see how one can say of Helen not only that hers was the face that launched a thousand ships but, in addition, that she was responsible for (and did not merely cause ) the Trojan War, if the war was due solely to something that was the result not of a free choice to elope with Paris which Helen need not have made, but only of her irresistible beauty." (Isaia Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty: p.xiv)

couldn't the author write "...not only her face launched a thousand ships"? why has he preferred to utter it in this way, i.e. "...hers was the face...".
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not only that hers was the face that launched a thousand ships but, in addition, that she was responsible for (and did not merely cause ) the Trojan War, if the war was due solely to something that was the result not of a free choice to elope with Paris which Helen need not have made, but only of her irresistible beauty." (Isaia Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty: p.xiv)

couldn't the author write "...not only her face launched a thousand ships"? No. this would either mean that someone else's face was involved as well, or another part of her body. It would mean that something other than her face was involved in launching the ships.

the way it is phrased the 'not only' is completed by 'but also'. It means that a) her beauty and b) her decision to elope with Paris were both factors that cuased the war.

Simpler examples: I have not only a cat but also a dog. Not only did the car hit the kerb but also the tree. Not only did the boy eat the lollipop but also a bar of chocolate.
How about this alternative:

" ... not only that it was her face that launched a thousand ships but, in addition, ..."

My problem is the phrase " hers was the face" I have hardly seen it. it is a little greek for me. I want to know what is the exact meaning of it and learn how to use this complex form of wording. So I would be very appreciated if you explain it more. thanks again.

cheers,

ALi
no your re-write does not work.

'hers was the face' just means the face belonging to her. It is being expressed in a poetic way so I wouldn't worry about trying to learn this sort of phrase at the moment.
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Dear Nona,

thanks for your return for yet another help! in the same excerpt:

I cannot see how one can say of Helen not only that hers was the face that launched a thousand ships but, in addition, that she was responsible for (and did not merely cause ) the Trojan War, if the war was due solely to something that was the result not of a free choice to elope with Paris which Helen need not have made, but only of her irresistible beauty." (Isaia Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty: p.xiv)

what would it happen if we omitted the two "that"s? would it be incorrect?