General Writing and Grammar Help/Dives the rich man


Hi, I'm working on an essay  apropos of  religion, and my tutor asked me to use some literay words when crafting this essay, say, outmoded words  like Dives , which can be used to refer to a well-to-do person, according to Oxford Dictionary. Yet I seem to be having trouble figuring out how to use Dives correctly. My question is would it be okay to write this man is a Dives?Or how about saying  this man is Dives if we are talking about a man who's wealthy?  Which one would you choose ? I'd be grateful if you could help me suss it out. Thanks.

Dives (DIE-veez) is of Biblical origin:  a non-specific name for an extremely rich man (in the story of the selfish rich man and Lazarus, the leper). See Luke: Chapter 16.


Today, it is used as a "generic" name, standing in for a group of people (or a single person) who are/is rich.  It is a "short cut" that enables the writer to convey a lot of information with only one word.


Here is another name that is used in a generic sense:
Computer developer Bill Hewlett is a George Washington of Silicon Valley.

I am telling the reader that Hewlett was of vital importance to the creation of Silicon Valley; without him there would be no Silicon Valley.  Hewlett was also among the first people who worked in the field of computers.

The expression derives from American history.

George Washington was the first president of the United States.  He was instrumental in founding the new nation.  Without him, the nation would not have come to be.  Washington is called a "founding father."  

In sentence above, =George Washington= is used in the sense that Hewlett was one of the first people to do something; in this case, it was to work with computers in Silicon Valley.


Notice the difference in meaning in these two sentences:

Bill Hewlett is A George Washington of Silicon Valley. [one of several]
Bill Hewlett is THE George Washington of Silicon Valley. [the only one]


To answer your specific question, =this man is a Dives= is not correct.  Omit =a=.

Yes, you could say =this man is Dives=.


A better usage would be as a comparison.  
For example, =this man acts as though he is Dives=, which means the man acts as though he is rich....left unspoken is "but he's not really rich."


A parallel is Croesus (CREE-sus), a king of Greece (he lived about 500 years before Christ).  He was exceedingly wealthy; wealthy beyond imagining.  See Herodotus.

There is the saying =rich as Croesus=, which means an extremely rich person.  
The writer is already as rich as Croesus, but she is writing another novel.
He is richer than Croesus and could buy anything he wants, yet he chooses to give his wealth to charity.

There is nothing left unspoken in these sentences because I used the verb =to be= instead of =to act=.


If we combine the two ideas, you could say:

The man is as rich as Dives.
In his small town, he is Dives.
The way he spends money, you would think he is Dives.
Under the mistaken impression that his son was Dives, the father asked him to buy his sister a Lamborghini.  


This is a tough one!  I hope I have helped you a little.  (I put in the pronunciation not for you, but for anyone else reading this response later.)

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Martha Beth Lewis


I will answer questions having to do with grammar, plurals, punctuation, capitalization, mood, person, tense, and so on, as well as word usage and word choice. If you want a quick answer to a specific question, particularly if you wish to use formal American English for business or academic purposes (MLA), I can give you a timely response. I also can address word choice, clarity, structure, and similar concerns involving English as a second language. If you want advice of a deeper editorial nature (e.g., substantive [line] editing), please consult an Expert who offers this sort of assistance; I do not offer this sort of assistance.


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