RHETORICAL FIGURES




FIGURE:
Definition and examples:
ALLITERATION





(Paranomeon): a series of words which frequently use the same letter, usually at the beginning of successive words.

saeva sedens super arma (Vergil, Aeneid 1. 294)
sola mihi tales casus Cassandra canebat (3. 183)
vi victa vis vel potius oppressa virtute audacia est (Cicero Milone 29)
ASSONANCE:




the repetition of the same set of consonants or vowels in the middle of or at the end of several successive words:

Tu P. Clodi cruentem cadaver eiecisti domo, tu in publicum abiecisti, tu spoliatum ... reliquisti. (Cicero Milone 33)
ANAPHORA:





a kind of super alliteration, in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of a series of phrases:

Credunt improbis, credunt turbulentis, credunt suis. (Cicero)
Nihil dico quid res publica consecuta sit, nihil quid vos, nihil quid omnes boni... (Cicero Milone 30.2)
CONVERSIO:



a kind of super assonance, in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the end of a series of phrases

.... Si te modo pontus haberet Te sequerer, conjunx, et me quoque pontus haberet (Ovid)
ASYNDETON:







the omission of conjunction(s) which would normally be expected in a phrase, list, or sentence.

Veni, vidi, vici. (Caesar, remarking on Zela, 47 B.C.)
Ferte cito flammas, date tela, impellite remos! (Vergil, Aen. 4. 594)
Tu P. Clodi cruentem cadaver eiecisti domo, tu in publicum abiecisti, tu spoliatum imaginibus, exsequiis, pompa, laudatione, infelicissimis lignis semiustilatum nocturnis canibus dilaniandum reliquisti. (Cicero Milone 33)
POLYSYNDETON:





the unnecessary use of connective word(s), emphasizing each and every element of a series:

Vestram virtutem, iustitiam, fidem (mihi credite) is maxime comprobabit qui in iudicibus legendis optimum et sapientissimum et fortissimum quemque delegit.
(This also has asyndeton, anaphora and alliteration of -m-) (Cicero pro Milone 105.4)
ADJUNCTIO:





the use of several words or phrases with only one verb, when more than one verb would be normal

[Zeugma: linking two or more phrases together by means of the same verb; the verb is usually literally appropriate to one of the phrases and only metaphorically appropriate to the other(s). "She left in a huff and a sedan chair."]
DISJUNCTIO: the use of the same verb with every member of a clause, when in normal practice the verb would be used only once.
COMPLEXIO: Anaphora and Conversio done at the same time in the same clause.
CONDUPLICATIO: the repetition of a word or phrase, for emotional effect

Exhibe exhibe, quaeso, Sexte Clodi, librarium illud legum vestrarum (Cicero Milone 33.2)
ONOMATOPOEIA: a word or phrase in which an appropriate sound is heard by way of the words chosen to describe the situation.
PARANOMASIA: a word play (pun) by way of two (or more) words of similar sound but different meaning.
ANTITHESIS:






the juxtaposition of words, phrases or ideas which are apparently (or really) strongly contrasting:

"Sink or swim." "...a time to sow and a time to reap, a time to live and a time to die..."
Itaque illud Cassianum 'cui bono fuerit' in his personis valeat, etsi boni nullo emolumento impelluntur in fraudem, improbi saepe parvo. (Cicero Milone 32.3)
...non docti sed facti, non instituti sed imbuti sumus (Milone 10)
METAPHOR:





an implied comparison, in which a characteristic of one object is transferred to another, the purpose being to suggest a similarity between the two.

Vergil Georgics 4.169: Fervet opus...
Cicero pro Milone 5: equidem ceteras tempestates et procellas in illis dumtaxat fluctibus contionum semper putavi Miloni esse subeundas...
PERSONIFICATION:


treating inanimate objects as though real human persons or endowed with human personality traits:

e.g. the winds in Aeneid 1.
ALLEGORY: an extended and systematic metaphor
METONYMY:


(Hypallage): transfers the name of one object to another object, from which it is really distinct, but to which it is connected by some external relationship:

"He really loved the bottle."
"The sceptre shall not pass from Judah."
SYNECHDOCHE:


(Pars pro toto; totum pro parte; plures pro uno):

Vergil Ecl. 3.57: nunc formossisimus annus (= season, Spring)
IRONY:



the use of language in such a way that the opposite meaning is intended to what the words actually say:

"...but Brutus is an honorable man..."
–Antony, in Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene 2.
HYPERBOLE:




deliberate exaggeration of the truth for rhetorical (often hostile) effect:

"...faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a mighty locomotive, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound..."
LEITOTES:





(exadversio): a kind of understatement (an inverse of hyperbole), depending upon a double negative for its effect:

not incompetent, not unworthy
Juvenal: difficile est satiram non scribere.
MEIOSIS:




deliberate belittling (thus the inverse of hyperbole), sometimes by way of metaphor:

OT I Kings 24. 15 (David before Saul): Rex Israel, quem persequeris? Canem mortuum et pulicem unum...
OXYMORON:



an apparent (but not actual) contradiction in terms:

"...mild mannered reporter..." "... military intelligence ..."
APOSIOPESIS:



a deliberate breaking off of the flow of the grammatical thought, leaving the clause unfinished.

Quos ego...! (Aeneid 1. 135)
APOSTOPHE:






addressing absent persons as though they were present, or addressing inanimate objects as though they were alive (personification):

Aeneid 3. 620
Aeneid 12. 95
Cicero pro Milone 105.1: O terram illam beatam quae hunc virum exceperit, hanc ingratam si eiecerit, miseram si amiserit!
OCCUPATIO:





forestalling an objection to one's point by raising the objection before someone else does:

Cicero de lege Manilia 22
Cicero pro Milone 35: Non modo igitur nihil prodest sed obest etiam Clodi mors Miloni. `At valuit odium, fecet iratus, fecit inimicus, fuit ultor iniuriae, punitor doloris sui.' Quid?
PRAETERITIO: announcing that one will not discuss a particular topic (in the process of which the topic is in fact brought up)
OBTESTATIO: the calling to witness (as in an oath) god(s), heaven, earth, heroes, etc.

Cicero pro Milone 101: Vos, vos appello, fortissimi viri, qui multum pro re publica sanguinem effudistis; vos, inquam in civis invicti periculo appello, centuriones vosque milites...
HENDIADYS:





('one through two') using two nouns, or a noun and its adjective, or a noun and its genitive, connected by a conjunction, to refer to one single complex thing or idea:

Cicero pro Milone 10.2: Quid comitatus nostri, quid gladii volunt?
[He refers to men armed with swords. Swords don't ask or demand or require.]
Vergil Georgics 2. 192: "We drink from cups and gold."
Demosthenes 19. 123: "by the length of time and a siege" = by a long siege

 

January 26, 2010 9:33 AM

John Paul Adams, CSUN
john.p.adams@csun.edu

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
Valid CSS!

| HOME | | FLIT 150 Home | | FLIT 350 Home | | FLIT 424 Home | | FLIT 480 Home |