I was recently asked to choose which of following two excerpts sounded better:
Emotionally vulnerable and incarnate of self-sacrifice, the Tenth Doctor wavered between romantic and intensely protective relationships with his companions.
Emotionally vulnerable and self-sacrifice incarnate, the Tenth Doctor wavered between romantic and intensely protective relationships with his companions.
I'm fairly certain this is a Dr. Who reference.
I argued that, even if the first one was changed to read "Emotionally vulnerable and incarnation of self-sacrifice," the second one was a better choice as "self-sacrifice incarnate" is an (compound?) adjective, where "incarnation of self-sacrifice" is a noun (right?).
But, even though I'm pretty sure the second choice is the better of the two, I can't explain why. In fact, I can't even explain what to call this whole thing. The programmer in me won't let me rest until I know what it is, how it should be used and, potentially/if necessary, why. I've spend the last 30 minutes Googling away for an answer to no avail -- primarily because I'm not sure for what it is I'm searching.
So, to summarize: Which wording should be used and why? Moreover, what are these types of descriptors called?