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from the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare and fro m the King James Bible. Two standard classical treatments are to be found in Book IX of Quintilian's Ins titutio oratoria, and Book IV of the widely influential, pseudo-Ciceronian Rheto rica ad Herennium (often cited simply as "Tully" - that is, Marcus Tullius Cicer o). The order given here is that of the Ad Herennium, an ordering also followed exactly (except for the ten tropes) in Geoffrey of Vinsauf's brilliant (and infa mous) model poems, in his Poetria nova (c.1200), the most popular and influentia l medieval treatment. A figure or schema is "any deviation, either in thought or expression, from the ordinary and simple method of speaking, a change analogous to the different posi tions our bodies assume when we sit down, lie down, or look back.... If the name is to be applied to certain attitudes (habitus) or gestures (gestus) of languag e, we must interpret schema as that which is poetically or rhetorically (oratori a) altered from the simple and obvious method of expression." (Quintilian, IX.i. 11-14) "Figure is the term employed when we give our language a conformation other than the obvious and ordinary." (Quintilian, IX.i.4) Two or three classes of figures are commonly distinguished (although there is so me disagreement in regard to detail and classification): figures of word or dict ion, sometimes including tropes, and figures of thought. For more on classical and medieval rhetoric, especially, see: Ad C. Herennium de ratione dicendi. Trans. Harry Caplan. Cambridge MA & Lond on, 1954. Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 3rd ed. New York & Oxford, 1990. Corbett, Edward P.J., ed. Rhetorical Analyses of Literary Works. New York, 1 969. Dupriez, Bernard. A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z. Trans. & ad apted by Albert W. Halsall. Toronto, 1991. Geoffrey of Vinsauf. Poetria nova of Geoffrey of Vinsauf. Trans. Margaret F. Nims. Toronto, 1967. Murphy, James J. Medieval Rhetoric: A Select Bibliography. Toronto, 1971. Murphy, James J. Rhetoric in the Middle Ages: A History of Rhetorical Theory from Saint Augustine to the Renaissance. Berkeley, 1974. Quintilian. Institutio oratoria. Trans. H.E. Butler. 4 vol. London, 1921-22. With special thanks to Sister F. Nims of Toronto ("Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy loore...?") Garrett P.J. Epp University of Alberta (1994) Christie Schultz web version (2002)

back to top I: FIGURES OF WORD 1. repetitio (anaphora, epanaphora): repetition of a word at the beginning of su ccessive clauses (or poetic lines): Allas, the deeth, allas, myn Emelye, Allas, departynge of oure compaignye; Allas, myn hertes queene, allas, my wyf, Myn hertes lady, endere of my lyf! (KnT 2773-76) 2. conversio (antistrophe): repetition of a word at the end of successive clause s: Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. (Ps 134.1) 3. complexio (symploce): repetition of both initial and final words in successiv e clauses: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.... (1 Cor 13.11) 4. traductio (ploce, symploce): a type of pun, involving either (a) repetition of a word, preferably in different cases: To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak. (1 Cor 9.22) or (b) use of words with the same sound, but different meaning or function: ... As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte; And prively he caughte hire by the queynte. (MilT 3275-76) 5. contentio (antithesis): a statement built on contraries (often classed as a f igure of thought; see III.9 below): I wasted time, and now doth time waste me. (R2 5.5) 6. exclamatio (apostrophe): an expression of grief or indignation, addressed to a person, place, or object: Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! and lips, O you The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss A dateless bargain to engrossing death! (R&J 5.3) 7. interrogatio (erotema): the 'rhetorical question': Thou that didst bear the key of all my counsels, That knew'st the very bottom of my soul, That almost mightst have coined me into gold, Wouldst thou have practiced on me for thy use? (H5 2.2) 8. ratiocinatio (aetiologia): reasoning by question and answer: What do I fear? Myself? There's none else by. Richard loves Richard: that is, I am I. Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am: Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why -

Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself? Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? ... (R3 5.3) 9. sententia (gnome): a maxim or general observation showing what does or should happen in life: The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.... (PF 1) or Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgement. (Hamlet 1.3) 10. contrarium (enthymeme); Quintilian deems this more a method of argument than a figure of diction): reasoning by contraries; implying the answer to a questio n by stating an opposing position: For how sholden they love togidre in the peyne of helle, whan they hated hated e ch of hem oother in the prosperitee of this lyf? (ParsT 203) back to top 11. membrum (colon): two, or preferably three, succinct clauses, each complete i n itself, but joined to express a total meaning: Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage. (H5 3.1) (note: each clause here is considered a membrum or colon.) 12. articulus (comma): a series of single words without connectives, giving a st accato effect: Beguiled, divorcd, wrongd, spited, slain! ( R&J 4.4) 13. continuatio (periodos): a dense, uninterrupted series of words expressing a single thought, generally a complex sentence having from two to four interdepend ant clauses or membra (although Aristotle allows a "simple" period). If ever you our streets disturb again Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. (R&J 1.1) This figure often takes the form of a maxim: Trouthe is the hyest thyng that man may kepe. (FklT 1479) 14. compar (isocolon): a combination of cola or clauses with a virtually equal n umber of syllables: Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. (JC 2.2) 15. similiter cadens (homoeoptoton): two or more words with the same case ending s, within one period (see continuatio, above): Hominem laudem egentem virtutis, abundantem felicitatis? (ad Her.) or ... and ek his moder dere, His bretheren and his sustren, gonne hym freyne .... (Troylus 5.1227) 16. similiter desinens (homoeoteleuton): two or more indeclinable words with the same endings, within one period: Turpiter audes facere; nequiter studes dicere. (ad Her.)

or Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! (Hamlet 2.2) (note: the two preceding figures are often used together; in English, since case forms have disappeared, the two terms are sometimes used loosely to mean rhymed endings.) 17. adnominatio (paronomasia): play on the sound or meaning of words by a slight change or transposition of letters, by a change in word-form or case, or by the addition of a prefix: SAMPSON: Gregory, on my word, we'll not carry coals. GREGORY: No, for then we should be colliers. SAMPSON: I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw. GREGORY: Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of collar. ( R&J 1.1) or ... Then crushing penury Persuades me I was better when a king; Then am I kinged again; and by and by Think that I am unkinged by Bolingbroke .... (R2 5.5) 18. subjectio (hypophora): a combination of question and answer directed against an adversary in argument: Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honour? A word. What is that w ord honour? Air - a trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died a Wednesday.... (1 H4 5.1) 19. gradatio (climax): repetition of the closing word of one clause as the openi ng word of the next: Then everthing include itself in power, Power into will, will into appetite. (T&C 1.3) (For a variation on this figure, combined with repetitio, see AYL 5.2: sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner lov ed but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked the reason; no sooner knew t he reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage....) 20. definitio (horismus): a brief and pointed summary of the characteristic qual ity of a person or thing: Poverte is a hateful good and, as I gesse, A ful greet bryngere out of bisynesse; A greet amendere eek of sapience To hym that taketh it in pacience. (WBT 1195) back to top 21. transitio (metabasis): a brief recalling of what has been said, and an intro duction to what is to follow: And remember well, I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel I now name to you, and with speed so pace To speak of Perdita .... (WT 4.1) 22. correctio (epanorthosis): retraction of what has just been said, and substit

ution of a more suitable word: Thou let'st thy fortune sleep - die, rather.... (Tempes t 2.1) 23. occupatio (paralipsis): description of a situation, or naming of objects, wh ile professing to leave them unnamed through lack of knowledge, or unwillingness to discuss them (also called occultatio): I'll speak of her no more, nor of your children; I'll not remember you of my own lord, Who is lost too. (WT 3.2) 24. disjunctio (diazeugma?): verbs positioned at the end of two or more clauses (often with the same subject): And Thisbe, tarrying in mulberry shade, His dagger drew, and died. (MND 5.1) 25. conjunctio (mezozeugma; also called synzeugmenon): placing in the middle of a construction a single verb which holds together the two parts: The morning cometh, and also the night. (Isaiah 21.12) 26. adjunctio (epezeugmenon): one verb controlling two clauses, positioned eithe r (a) at the beginning of the first clause: Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. (Lear 1.3) or (b) at the end of the second clause: Neither a borrower nor a lender be. (Lear 1.3) 27. conduplicatio (anadiplosis?): repetition of one or more words for amplificat ion or pity: O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain! (Hamlet 1.5) 28. interpretatio (synonymy): repetition of a single idea in synonymous words: Crack Nature's molds, all germains spill at once, That makes ungrateful man. (Lear 3.2) (This figure is common in biblical proverbs, such as Prov 16.18: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.) 29. commutatio (antimetabole): balanced phrasing, with transposed order of words in the two halves of a statement. The two parts of the statement may be antithe tical: But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. (Mt 19.30) The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. (AY L 5.1) 30. permissio (epitrope): surrender of a situation to the will of another; often for pity or irony: Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword, Which if thou please to hide in this true breast And let the soul forth that adoreth thee, I lay it naked to the deadly stroke

And humbly beg the death upon my knee. (R3 1.2) 31. dubitatio (aporia): expression of uncertainty as to which of two or more wor ds is most suitable: How, a page? Or dead or sleeping on him? But dead rather .... (Cymb 4.2) 32. expeditio (apophasis): enumeration of various alternatives, and elimination of all but one: I cannot tell if to depart in silence, Or bitterly to speak in your reproof, Best fitteth my degree or your condition. If not to answer, you might haply think Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded To bear the golden yoke of sovereignty Which fondly you would here impose on me. If to reprove you for this suit of yours, So seasoned with your faithful love to me, Then, on the other side, I checked my friends. Therefore - to speak, and to avoid the first, And then, in speaking, not to incur the last Definitively I answer you. (R3 3.7) 33. dissolutio (asyndeton): a concise series of clauses without connectives: Touch not; taste not; handle not. (Col 2.21) 34. praecisio (aposiopesis): the breaking off of a sentence, for emotional effec t or implication: But ere they came - O let me say no more! Gather the sequel by that went before. (Errors 1.1) 35. conclusio (Quintilian denies this is a figure): a brief summary, deducing th e consequences of what has been said or done: But thy vile race, Though thou didst learn, had that in't which good natures Could not abide; therefore wast thou Deservedly confined into this rock, who hadst Deserved more than a prison. (Tempest 1.2) back to top II: TROPES (that is, "conversions" - ten figures of word or diction in which words are used in a way that effects a change in their conventional meaning.) 1. nominatio (onomatopoeia): neologism made on the basis of aural imitation or e xpressiveness: The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also So cryede, "Kek kek, kokkow, quek quek" .... (PF 498-99) 2. pronominatio (antonomasia): designating a person or thing by means of an epit

het in place of the proper name: You come with letters against the King, and take Vanity the puppet's part agains t the royalty of her father. (Lear 2.2) 3. denominatio (metonymy): substitution of the name of a related thing for the t hing itself: ... doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat. (AYL 2.4) 4. circumitio (periphrasis): expressing a simple idea by means of a circumlocuti on: Madam, an hour before the worshipped sun Peered forth the golden window of the east .... (R&J 1.1) 5. transgressio (hyperbaton): a change from normal word order (usually for the s ake of rhythm), either through perversio (anastrophe), a reversal of words: As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free. (Tempest Epilogue) or through transiectio, a transposition involving the separation of grammaticall y related elements: It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood, Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow .... (Othello 5.2) (note: Dupriez does not mention transiectio, but cites this passage as an example of anastrophe, which he distinguishes from hyperbaton.) 6. superlatio (hyperbole): exaggeration, used either to magnify or to belittle s omething: Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine Making the green one red. (Macbeth 2.2) 7. intellectio (synecdoche): substitution of a part for the whole, or the whole for a part, of a thing: Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood! (JC 3.1) 8. abusio (catachresis): inexact use of a word (also the unintentional misuse of a word, which is considered a fault): I will speak daggers to her, but use none. (Hamlet 3.2) 9. translatio (metaphor): application of a word in a transferred sense from one thing to another that is in some way similar or analogous. (This most elaborate of tropes is too well known and too varied to be usefully illustrated here.) 10. permutatio (allegory): denoting one thing literally, but meaning another. Th is figure normally includes not only allegorical fictions as a whole (including dream visions such as Chaucer's HF and PF), and more isolated personified abstra ctions (such as Shakespeare's Time in WT or Rumour in 2H4), but also any extende d metaphor, irony, sarcasm, and other local effects. As a figure or trope, alleg ory should be distinguished from what is often termed allegoresis, or allegorica l interpretation of a text such as the Bible. back to top

III: FIGURES OF THOUGHT 1. distributio (diairesis, merismos): the assigning of specified roles among a n umber of things or persons: They have a king and officers of sorts, Where some like magistrates correct at home, Others like merchants venture trade abroad, Others like soldiers armd in their stings Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds .... (H5 1.2) 2. licentia (parrhesia): frankness of speech, before those to whom one owes reve rence, because we feel justified in pointing out some fault: Kill the physician, and thy fee bestow Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift, Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat, I'll tell thee thou dost evil. (Lear 1.1) 3. diminutio (related to meiosis, litotes): a form of understatement, and implic ation of more than the words say: And he nas nat right fat, I undertake .... (GProl 288) 4. descriptio (energia, diatyposis): clear, lucid, and vivid description (especi ally of the potential consequences of some action): a moment look to see The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters; Your fathers taken by the silver beards And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls; Your naked infants spitted upon pikes, Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused Do break the clouds.... (H5 3.3) 5. divisio (prosapodosis): distinguishing the alternatives of a question, and re solving each, by subjoining a reason: If we do meet again, why, we shall smile; If not, why then this parting was well made. (JC 5.1) 6. frequentatio (synathroesmus): points scattered through a speech are gathered up to give sharpness and point: You have conspired against our royal person, Joined with an enemy proclaimed, and from his coffers Received the golden earnest of our death; Wherein you would have sold your king to slaughter, His princes and his peers to servitude, His subjects to oppression and contempt, And his whole kingdom into desolation. (H5 2.2) 7. expolitio: a dwelling on and refining of the same topic, by repeating it in a variety of ways, or by descanting upon it, varying words, treatment, and tone o f delivery. To be, or not to be ... [etc.] (Hamlet 3.1)

(This is also a common sermon technique; see, for instance Chaucer's Pardoner on gluttony, or his Parson's Tale in general.) 8. commoratio (epimone): lingering upon a strong point and frequently returning to it. The Ad Herennium says it is not possible to give an example, since this f igure runs through a whole discourse, but note, for instance, Mark Anthony's var iations in the funeral oration (JC 3.2) on the theme: "...Brutus says he was amb itious,/ And Brutus is an honorable man." (Note: this particular line also illus trates the figure commutatio - see I.29 above.) 9. contentio (antithesis): a statement based on antithetical ideas (for contenti o as a figure of diction, see I.5 above): Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen ? (JC 3.2) 10. similitudo (parabole): a manner of speech that detects a kind of resemblance in things or situations that are different. It works through contrast, negation , detailed parallel, or abridged comparison: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Mt 19.24) For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Mt 12.40) back to top 11. exemplum (paradeigma): the citing of something done or said in the past toge ther with the naming of the doer or author; it is used to render a thought clear , vivid, plausible: Eek Plato seith, whoso kan hym rede, The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede. (GProl 741-42) 12. imago (simile): a comparison of one thing with another by means of an image: You were wont, when you laughed, to crow like a cock; when you walked, to walk l ike one of the lions.... (TGV 2.1) 13. effictio (karakterismos): the representation of physical appearance: His face is all bubukles and whelks, and knobs, and flames o' fire, and his lips plows at his nose, and it is like a coal of fire.... (H5 3.6) 14. notatio (ethopoeia): representation of a person's character, stressing the m ost distinctive qualities: "by such delineation, anyone's ruling passion can be brought into the open" (ad Her. IV.65): Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche, And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche. (GProl 307-8) 15. sermocinatio (dialogoi): assigning language to a person which conforms with his character: 'Ye quek,' yit seyde the doke, ful wel and fayre, 'There been mo sterres, God wot, than a payre.' (PF 594-95) 16. conformatio (prosopopoeia): representing an absent person as speaking, or gi ving speech to that which has no speech:

All several sins, all used in each degree, Throng to the bar, crying all, 'guilty, guilty.' (R3 5.3) 17. significatio (emphasis): insinuation and innuendo, often produced through am biguity, analogy, or figures such as hyperbole: But were I Brutus, And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue In every wound of Caesar that should move The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny. (JC 3.2) 18. brevitas (brachylogia): expressing an idea with a minimum of words: King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en. Give me thy hand. Come on. (Lear 5.2) 19. demonstratio (enargeia): a description so vivid that the event seems to take place before our eyes. It often includes an account of what precedes, accompani es, and follows an action: No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home, But dust was thrown upon his sacred head; Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off, His face still combatting with tears and smiles .... (R2 5.1)