On the throne, they worshipped their king. On horseback, they cheered him. On his deathbed, they prayed for him. In his grave, they wept for him. And then, when they learned about the crimes he had committed, they despised him.

Does this passage work?

Are the 'modifiers' misplaced? Does the fact that we have a list make them acceptable?

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    It sounds like the people (rather than the king) are on the throne, on horseback, deathbed grave etc. – Max Williams Jul 12 '16 at 13:16
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    @MaxWilliams: Yes, what were all those people doing on his deathbed? (Praying for the King, I guess.) – Drew Jul 12 '16 at 17:37
  • @Drew I'm concerned about the fact that they somehow managed to all fit inside his grave—and that, having been buried alive, they wept for him rather than for themselves. Sounds like brainwashing to me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 12 '16 at 21:11
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: Who knows what that crowd was all about? Completely mad, would be my guess. – Drew Jul 12 '16 at 21:57

Normally, I would not recommend using the passive mode, but in this case I think the passive mode would work:

When the king was on his throne, he was worshipped; on horseback, he was applauded; on his deathbed, he was prayed for; in his grave, he was wept over; but when exposed as a criminal, he was despised.

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  • This is definitely a much better bit of writing. – Max Williams Jul 12 '16 at 14:34

Are they sitting on the throne, or is the king sitting on the throne? Is the king on horseback, or are they on horseback?

This is a little bit unclear, but it's not grammatically incorrect. The context makes it a little more obvious, but you might want to rewrite these sentences to remove all of the ambiguity.

"When the king was on his throne, they worshiped him."

Even that is still a little ambiguous, but it might be a move in the right direction.

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All of the sentences have a dangling participle. For example, in the first sentence the modifying first part "On the throne" relates to "the king", but that is not the subject of the second part of the sentence. What your first sentence means as it is written now is that "they" are on the throne worshipping the king.

Similarly in the next sentence "they" are on horseback, not the king.

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  • 1
    Why does "cheered him" need "on" after it? – TrevorD Jul 12 '16 at 13:26
  • 2
    I think it's better without. "Cheered him" means "they cheered when they saw him". "Cheered him on" would mean that they were cheering to encourage him to do something (like drink a yard of ale). – Max Williams Jul 12 '16 at 15:12
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    For clarity: the reference to "cheered him on" has subsequently been deleted. – TrevorD Jul 12 '16 at 20:25

Other people have made good comments about grammatical issues here. I'll take a stab at a rendering which addresses these while, I hope, preserving some of the tone and cadence of the original.

"While their king was on the throne, the people worshipped him. When they saw him on horseback, they cheered him. As he lay on his deathbed, they prayed for him. As he was lowered down into his grave, they wept for him. And then, when they learned of the crimes he had committed, they despised him."

Hope some part of this is useful to you.

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