Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Alphabetical List of Figures of Speech

In the following, I give an alphabetical list of tropes, figures of speech, and figures of thought with examples derived from Ps-Cicero’s Rhetorica ad Herennium and Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria.

The naming of figures of speech is notoriously difficult because there are many names for a given figure and each rhetorician seems to differ as to the names, but not the definitions.  For the names of the figures I have used the following rules: (1) I have used the most common or well-known name which is usually based on the Latin, e.g., alliteration/assonance rather than homoeophrophoron. (2) If no well-known name is used, I have used the Greek name. (3) If no well-known or Greek name is used, I have used the Latin name. Examples are from the Rhetorica ad Herennium unless figure only occurs in Quintilian or elsewhere.

Adiunctio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.27.38): The figure in which the verb holding the sentence together is placed not in the middle, but at the beginning or end; e.g., (Beginning): Fades physical beauty with disease or age.” (End): “Either with disease or age physical beauty fades.” 

Allegory (Permutatio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.34.46; Inst. 8.6.44-53): The trope denoting one thing by the letter of the words, but another by their meaning; e.g., (Comparison): “For when dogs act the part of wolves, to what guardian, pray, are we going to entrust our cattle.” (Argument) referring to Drusus as a “faded reflection of the Gracchi.” (Contrast): “If, for example, one should mockingly call a spendthrift and voluptuary frugal and thrifty.”

Alliteration/Assonance (Homoeophrophoron) (figure of speech, Lausberg, Handbook, 432): the frequent repetition of the same consonant, chiefly the initial consonant, in a sequence of several words; e.g., “O Titus Tatius, Tyrant, what great things you have brought upon yourself (o Tite tute Tati tibi tanta tyranne tulisti).”
Anadiplosis (figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.44-45):  The figure in which there is a repetition of a word which ends a clause at the beginning of the next clause, e.g., “yet this man lives. Lives?” and again, “And ye, Pierian Muses, shall enhance their worth for Gallus, Gallus, he for whom each hour my love burns stronger.”

Anaphora (Epanaphora, Repetitio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.13.19; Inst. 9.3.30): The figure in which the same words begin successive phrases; e.g., “Scipio razed Numantia, Scipio destroyed Carthage, Scipio brought peace, Scipio saved the state.”

Antanaclasis (figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.68-69): The figure in which the same word is used with two different meanings.
Antistrophe (Conversio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.13.19; Inst. 9.3.30-31): The figure in which there is a repetition of the same word as the last word in successive phrases: similar to anaphora; e.g., “Since that time when from our state concord disappeared, liberty disappeared, good faith disappeared, friendship disappeared, the common weal disappeared.”

Antithesis (Contentio) (figure of speech, figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.15.21; 4.45.58; Inst. 9.3.81-86): The figure in which style is built upon contraries, using contrary thoughts in successive clauses; figure of speech: e.g., “When all is calm, you are confused; when all is in confusion, you are calm.” “While you deplore the troubles besetting him, this knave rejoices in the ruin of the state.”
Aporia (Dubitatio) (figure of speech, figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.29.40; Inst. 9.2.19-25): The figure in which the speaker seems to ask which of two or more words he had better use; feigned hesitation, to be at a loss, to ask advice from the audience; e.g., “At that time the republic suffered exceedingly from—ought I to say—the folly of the consuls, or their wickedness, or both.”

Aposiopesis (Preacisio, Antiphrasis) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.30.41; Inst. 9.2.47-48, 9.2.54-55): The figure in which something is said and then the rest of what the speaker had begun to say is left unfinished. The suspicion expressed is more telling than the narration of the information itself; e.g., “You dare to say that, who recently at another’s home—I shouldn’t dare tell, lest in saying things becoming to you, I should seem to say something unbecoming to me.”

Apostrophe (Exclamatio) (figure of speech, figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.15.22; Inst. 9.3.23-24, 9.2.26-27, 9.2.38-39): A figure claiming indignation or grief by means of an address to an individual; e.g., “Perfidious Fregellae, how quickly, because of your crime, you have wasted away.”

Asyndeton (Dissolutio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.30.41; Inst. 9.3.50): The figure in which there is a presentation in separate parts, conjunctions being suppressed; e.g., “Indulge your father, obey your relatives, gratify your friends, submit to the laws.” 

Autonomasia (Pronominatio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.31.42; Inst. 8.6.29-30): The trope in which one designates by an accidental epithet a thing that cannot be called by its proper name; e.g., “If some one speaking of the Gracchi should say, ‘Surely the grandsons of Africanus did not behave like this.’”

Brevitas (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.54.68): The figure in which one expresses an idea in the very minimum of essential words; e.g., “On his way he took Lemnus, then left a garrison at Thasus, after that he destroyed the Bithynian city, Cius; next, returning to the Hellespont, he forthwith occupies Abydus.” 
Catachresis (Abusio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.33.45): The trope in which there is the inexact use of a like and kindred word in place of the precise and proper one; e.g., “the power of the man is short,” “small height,” “the long wisdom in the man,” “a mighty speech.”
Chiasmus (Commutatio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.18.39): The figure in which two discrepant thoughts are so expressed by transposition that the latter follows from the former although contradictory to it; e.g., “You must eat to live, not live to eat.” And “I do not write poems, because I cannot write the sort I wish, and I do not wish to write the sort I can.”
Climax (Gradatio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.25.34; Inst. 9.3.55-57): The figure in which a speaker passes to the next word only after advancing by steps to the preceding one; e.g., “Now what remnant of liberty survives if those men may do what they please, if they can do what they may, if they dare do what they can, if they do what they dare, and if you approve of what they do.” And again, “The industry of Africanus brought him excellence, his excellence glory, his glory rivals.”

Colon or Clause (Membrum) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.19.26): The name given to the sentence member, brief and complete, which does not express an entire thought, but is in turn supplemented by another colon as follows: e.g., “On the one hand you were helping the enemy,” which should be supplemented by another colon: “And on the other you were hurting your friend.”

Comma (Articulus) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.19.26): The figure in which single words are set apart by pauses in staccato speech; e.g., “By your vigor, voice, looks, you have terrified your adversaries.” And again, “you have destroyed your enemies by jealousy, injuries, influence, perfidy.”

Commoratio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.45.58): The figure in which one remains rather long upon, and often returns to, the strongest topic in which the whole cause rests.
Comparison (Similitudo) (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.45.59-4.48.61; Inst. 9.2.100-101): The figure in which there is a manner of speech that caries over an element of likeness from one thing to a different thing. This is used to embellish or prove or clarify or vivify. It also has four forms: contrast, negation, detailed parallel, and abridged comparison. The author lists several examples from each of the four forms, and for each of the four purposes; e.g., (Negation): “Neither can an untrained horse, however well built by nature, be fit for the services desired of a horse, nor can an uncultivated man, however well endowed by nature, attain to virtue.”
Concessio (figure of thought, Inst. 9.2.51): The figure in which one pretends to admit something actually unfavorable by way of showing confidence in one’s cause, e.g., in Cicero, speaking of the prejudice against his client, “Let it prevail in the public assembly, but be silent in the courts of law.”
Conclusio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.30.41): The figure in which, by means of a brief argument, one deduces the necessary consequences of what has been said or done before; e.g., “But if the oracle had predicted to the Danaans that Troy could not be taken without the arrows of Philoctetes, and these arrows moreover served only to smite Alexander, then certainly killing Alexander was the same as taking Troy.”

Conduplicatio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.18.38): The figure in which there is a repetition of one or more words for the purpose of amplification or appeal to pity; e.g., “You are promoting riots, Gaius Gracchus, yes, civil and internal riots.”

Confessio (figure of thought, Inst. 9.2.51): The figure in which there is a confession of a fact that in no way harms one’s case.
Coniunctio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.27.38): The figure in which both the previous and succeeding phrases are held together by placing the verb between them; e.g., “Either with disease physical beauty fades, or with age. (Formae dignitas aut morbo deflorescit aut vetustate).”
Contrarium (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.18.25): The figure in which there are two opposing statements, one if which is used to directly prove the other; e.g., “Now how should you expect one who has ever been hostile to his own interests to be friendly to another’s.” And, “Now why should you think that one who is, as you have learned, a faithless friend, can be an honorable enemy.”
Correctio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.26.36): The figure in which one retracts what has been said and replaces it with what seems more suitable; e.g., “After the men in question had conquered, or rather had been conquered—for how shall I call that a conquest which has brought more disaster than benefit to the conquerors.”

Definitio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.25.35): The figure in which there is a brief, clear cut designation of the characteristic qualities of a thing; e.g., “The sovereign majesty of the republic is that which comprises the dignity and grandeur of the state.”

Demonstratio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.40.68; Inst. 9.2.40-44): The figure in which an event is so described in words that the business seems to be enacted and the subject to pass vividly before our eyes; e.g., “In a sweat, with his eyes blazing, hair bristling, toga awry, he begins to quicken his pace…but this fellow, frothing crime from his mouth, breathing forth cruelty from the depth of his lungs.”

Descriptio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.39.51): The figure which contains a clear, lucid, and impressive exposition of the consequences of an act; e.g., “But, men of the jury, if by your votes you free this defendant, immediately, like a lion released from his cage, or some foul beast loosed from his chains, he will slink and prowl about in the forum, sharpening his teeth to attack everyone’s property … &c.”

Digressio (figure of thought, Inst. 9.2.55-57): The figure in which one leaves off from the original topic for a different tangential topic.

Disiunctum (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.27.37): The figure in which each of two or more clauses ends with a special verb; e.g., “With disease physical beauty fades (deflorescit), with age it dies (extinguitur).”

Distributio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.35.47): The figure in which certain specified roles are assigned among a number of things or persons; e.g., “The Senate’s function is to assist the state with counsel; the magistracy’s is to execute, by diligent activity, the Senate’s will; the people’s to chose and support by its votes the best measures and the most suitable men.”

Divisio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.40.52): The figure in which one separates the alternatives of a question and resolves each by means of a reason adjoined; e.g., “Why should I now reproach you in any way? If you are an upright man, you have not deserved reproach; if a wicked man, you will be unmoved.”

Effictio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.49.63): The figure in which one represents and depicts in words clearly enough for recognition the bodily form of some person; e.g., “I mean him, men of the jury, the ruddy, short, bent man, with white and rather curly hair, blue-grey eyes, and a huge scar on his chin, if perhaps you can recall him to memory”

Ellipsis (Detractio) (figure of thought, Inst. 9.2.37): The figure in which there is a deliberate omission of any indication of who is speaking.

Emphasis (Significatio) (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.53.67-4.54.67; Inst. 9.2.64-65): The figure in which one leaves more to be suspected than has actually been asserted. It is produced through hyperbole, ambiguity, logical consequence, aposiopesis, and analogy. This figure sometimes possesses liveliness and distinction in the highest degree; indeed it permits the hearer himself to guess what the speaker has not mentioned; e.g., (Hyperbole): “Out of so great a patrimony, in so short a time, this man has not laid by even an earthen pitcher wherewith to seek a fire for himself;” e.g., (Aposiopesis): “He who so handsome and so young, recently at a stranger’s house—I am unwilling to say more.”

Epanalepsis (figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.28-29): The figure in which one repeats the same word twice in a row, (or on both ends of a parenthesis).

Epanodos, (Regressio) (figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.35-36): The figure in which one reiterates the same words while further distinguishing meaning; the repetition may also serve to mark a contrast, e.g., “Iphitus too with me and Pelius came, Iphitus bowed with age and Pelias Slow-Limping with the wound Ulysses gave.”

Epithet (Epitheton) (trope, Inst. 8.6.40-43): The figure, which is rare in oratory, and is solely for ornament. An epithet cannot stand by itself, but only stands with the proper name as an augment to that name.

Exemplum (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.49.62): The figure in which there is a citation of something done or said in the past, along with the definite naming of the doer or author.

Expeditio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.29.40-41): The figure in which we have enumerated the several ways by which something could have been brought about, and all are discarded except the one on which we are insisting; e.g., “Since it is established that the estate you claim as yours was mine, you must show that you took possession of it as vacant land, or made it your property by right of prescription, or bought it, or that it came to you by inheritance. Since I was on the premises, you could not have taken possession of it as vacant land. Even by now you cannot have made it your property by right of prescription. No sale is disclosed. Since I am alive, my property could not have come to you by inheritance. It remains then, that you have expelled me by force from my estate.”

Frequentatio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.40.52): The figure in which points scattered throughout the whole case are collected in one place so as to make the speech more impressive or sharp, or accusatory; e.g., “He is the betrayer of his own self respect, and they waylayer of the self respect of others; covetous, intemperate, irascible, arrogant; disloyal to his parents, ungrateful to his friends, troublesome to his kin; insulting to his betters, disdainful of his equals and mates, cruel to his inferiors; in short he is intolerable to everyone.”
Homoeoptoton (Similiter Cadens) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.20.28; Inst.  9.3.78-79): The figure in which, in the same period, two or more words appear in the same case with like terminations; e.g., “Am I to praise a man lacking in virtue, but abounding in good luck (Hominem laudem egentem virtutis, abundantem felicitates)?” And again, “This man places all his hope in money; from wisdom is his soul withdrawn.  Through diligence he acquires riches, but through negligence he corrupts his soul (huic omnis in pecunia speas est, a sapientia est animus remotus; diligentia conparat divitas, neglegentia corrumpit animum. Et tamen, cum ita vivit, neminem prae se ducit hominem).”

Homoteleuton (Similiter Desinens) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.20.28; Inst. 9.3.77): The figure in which the endings of the words are similar, although the words are indeclinable; e.g., “You dare to act dishonorably, you strive to talk despicably, you live hatefully, you sin zealously, you speak offensively (Turpiter audes facere, nequiter studes dicere, vivis invidiose, delinquis studiose, loqueris odiose).”

Hypophora (Subiectio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.24.33-34): The figure in which one asks questions of adversaries, or of oneself, and answers with what ought or ought not to be said, making oneself look good, and the adversary look bad.

Hyperbaton (Transgressio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.32.44; Inst. 8.6.62-67): The trope which upsets the normal word order by means of anastrophe or transposition; e.g., (Anastrophe): “I think the immortal gods have given this to you on account of your virtue (hoc vobis deos immortales arbitror dedisse virtute pro vestra).” (Transposition): “Unstable fortune has exercised her greatest power on this creature. All the means of living well chance has jealously taken from him (Instabilis in istum plurimum fortuna valuit. Omnes invidiose eripuit bene vivendi casus facultates).”

Hyperbole (Superlatio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.33.44; Inst. 8.6.67-76): The figure in which one exaggerates the truth, whether for the sake of magnifying or minimizing something. This figure is used independently or with comparison; e.g., (Independently): “But if we maintain concord in the state, we shall measure the empire’s vastness by the rising and the setting of the sun.” (With comparison from equivalence): “His body was as white as snow, his face burned like fire.” (With comparison from superiority): “From his mouth flowed speech sweeter than honey.”

Irony (Illusio) (trope, figure of thought, Inst. 8.6.54-59; 9.2.44-51): The figure in which the meaning is contrary to the words uttered, understood from context or delivery. Quintilian gives the following Greek words which represent the same concept: σαρκασμός· ἀστεϊσμός· ἀντίφρασις· παροιμία (sarcasm, urbane wit, contradiction, proverbs). In the figurative form the speaker disguises his entire meaning, more than just words, the entire situation may be contrary to the intended meaning; e.g.,  “rejected by him, you migrated to your boon companion, that excellent gentleman (virum optimum), Metellus,” in which the irony lies in two words (virum optimum).

Isocolon (Conpar) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.20.27; Inst. 9.3.80): The figure comprised of cola (see colon above) which consist of virtually equal number of syllables; e.g., “the father was meeting death in battle; the son was planning a marriage at home. These omens wrought grievous disasters (In proelio mortem parens oppetebat, domi filius nuptias conparabat; haec omina gravis casus administrabant).”

Litotes (Deminutio) (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.38.50): The figure in which we say that by nature, fortune, or diligence, we or our clients possess some exceptional advantage, and, in order to avoid the impression of arrogant display, we moderate and soften the statement of it; e.g., “This, men of the jury, I have the right to say—that by our labor and diligence I have contrived to be no laggard in the mastery of military science.” (Use of “no laggard” instead of saying that he was “the best.”).

Maxim (Sententia) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.17.24): This figure is a saying drawn from life which shows concisely either what happens or ought to happen in life; e.g., “Every beginning is difficult.” And “A free man is that man to be judged who is a slave to no base habit.”

(trope, Inst. 8.6.38-39): The trope in which one provides a transition from one trope to another; e.g., calling Χείρων the centaur Ἥσσων (both of which mean inferior).

Metaphor (Translatio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.24.45; Inst. 8.6.4-18): The trope in which a word applying to one thing is transferred to another, because the similarity seems to justify the transference; e.g., “The recent arrival of an army suddenly blotted out the state.”

Metonymy (Denominatio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.32.43; Inst. 8.6.23-28): The trope which draws from an object closely akin or associated, an expression suggesting the object meant, but not called by its own name. This is accomplished in several ways; e.g., (Greater for the Lesser): “speaking of the Tarpeian Rock and calling it ‘the Capitoline’.”  (Using the name of the thing invented for that of the inventor): “wine” for “Liber” or “wheat” for “Ceres.”  (Using the name of the instrument for the possessor): e.g., “as if one should refer to the Macedonians as follows: ‘Not so quickly did the Lances (Macedonians) get possession of Greece.” 4) (Using the cause for the effect): As in referring to someone doing something in war might say, “Mars forced you to do that.” And several other examples: effect for cause, container for content, content for container. 

Notatio (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.50.63-4.51.65): The figure in which one describes a person’s character by the definite signs which, like distinctive marks, are attributes of that character; e.g., The author gives a rather lengthy story of a man who parades around as if he were rich, but is actually poor. Throughout, by telling a story of this mans words and deeds, he describes his character with remarkable clarity. Further, the author writes, “Character delineations of this kind which describe the qualities proper to each man’s nature carry very great charm, for they set before our eyes a person’s whole character, of the boastful man, as I undertook to illustrate, for the envious or pompous man, or the miser, the climber, the lover, the voluptuary, the thief, the public informer—in short, by such delineation any one’s ruling passion can be brought into the open.”

Onomatopoeia (Nominatio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.31.42; Inst. 8.31-37): The trope which suggests to us that we should ourselves designate with a suitable word, whether for the sake of imitation or of expressiveness, a thing which either lacks a name or has an inappropriate name; e.g., (Imitation): “Our ancestors, for example, said ‘roar (rudere),’ ‘bellow (mugire),’ ‘murmur (murmurari),’ ‘hiss (sibilare).’” “After this creature attacked the republic, there was a hullabaloo (fragor) among the first men of the state.”

Paralipsis (Occultatio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.27.37): The figure in which we say that we are passing by, or do not know, or refuse to say that which precisely now we are saying; e.g., “I do not mention that you have taken monies from our allies; I do not concern myself with your having despoiled the cities, kingdoms, and homes of them all. I pass by your thieveries and robberies, all of them.”

Parenthesis (Interpositio, Interclusio, Paremptosis) (figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.23-24): The figure in which there is an interruption of the continuous flow of our language by the insertion of some remark.

Parhessia (Licentia) (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.36.48; Inst. 9.2.27-29): The figure in which, when talking before those to whom we owe reverence or fear, we yet exercise our right to speak out because we seem justified in reprehending them, or persons dear to them, for some fault. One may follow parhessia up with praise to mollify the hearers, or use feigned parhessia, using pretence of frank speech to gain the support of the audience; e.g., “You wonder, fellow citizens, that every one abandons your interests? That no one undertakes your cause? Blame this on yourselves; cease to wonder…&c.”

Paronomasia (Adnominatio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.21.29-4.23.32; Inst. 9.3.66-67): The figure in which by modification of sound or a change in letters, there is a close resemblance between verb or noun, so that similar words mean dissimilar things; e.g., “This one who boasts and displays himself so magnificently was sold (as a slave) before he came to Rome (Hic qui se magnifice iactat atque ostentat, venīt (veneo: to be sold [as a slave]) antequem Romam venĭt (venio: to come)).”  The author calls these word plays. It can also occur when the words are not quite so close: e.g., “Who am I, whom am I accusing, whom am I benefitting (qui sim, quem insimulem, cui prosim)?”

Period (Continuatio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.19.27): The figure in which there is a close packed and uninterrupted group of words expressing a complete thought. Best used in three places: (Maxim): e.g., “Fortune cannot much harm him who has built his support more firmly upon virtue than upon chance.” (Contrast): e.g., “For if a person has not placed much hope in chance, what great harm can chance do him.” (Conclusion): e.g., “But if fortune has her greatest power over those who have committed all their plans to chance, we should not entrust our all with her, lest she gain too great a domination over us.”

Periphrasis (Circumitio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.32.43; Inst. 8.6.59-61): The trope in which one expresses a simple idea by means of circumlocution; e.g., “The foresight of Scipio crushed the power of Carthage,” instead of just saying, “Scipio crushed Carthage.”

Permissio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.29.39): The figure in which we indicate in speaking that we yield and submit the whole matter to another’s will. This figure helps in producing pity; e.g., “Since only soul and body remain to me, now that I am deprived of everything else, even these, which alone of many goods are left to me, I deliver up to your power. You may use and even abuse me in your own way as you think best; with impunity make your decision upon me, whatever it may be.”

Personification (Conformatio) (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.53.66): The figure which consists in representing an absent person as present, or in making a mute thing, or one lacking form articulate, and attributing to it a definite form and a language or certain behavior appropriate to its character; e.g., “But if that great Lucius Brutus should now come to life again and appear here before you, would he not use this language?  ‘I banished kings; you bring in tyrants. I created liberty, which did not exist; which I created you do not wish to preserve…”

Pleonasm (Expolitio)
(figure of speech, figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.42.54, Inst. 9.3.45-46): The figure which consists in dwelling on the same topic and yet seeming to say something ever new; e.g., “No peril is so great that a wise man would think it ought to be avoided when the safety of the fatherland is at stake. When the lasting security of the state is in question, the man endowed with good principles will undoubtedly believe that in defense of the fortunes of the republic he ought to shun no crisis of life, and he will ever persist in the determination eagerly to enter, for the fatherland, any combat, however great the peril to life.” And, “You have decided, you have passed sentence, you have given judgment,” and again, “he departed, he went, he burst forth, he was gone.”

Polyptoton (klisis) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.21.29-4.23.32; Inst. 9.3.36-37. Cf. Theon, 101 for klisis): The figure in which the cases of the words are changed, e.g., “Alexander of Macedon, with consummate toil from boyhood trained his mind to virtue. Alexander’s virtues have been broadcast with fame and glory throughout the world. All men greatly feared Alexander, yet deeply loved him. Had longer life been granted to Alexander, the Macedonian lances would have flown across the ocean (Alexander [nominative] Macedo summo labore animum ad virtutem a pueritia confirmavit. Alexandri [genitive] virtutes per orbem terrae cum laude et Gloria vulgate sunt. Alexandrum [accusative] omnes maxime metuerunt, idem plurumum dilexerunt. Alexandro [dative] si vita data longior esset, trans Oceanum macedonum transvolassent sarisae).” And again, “Is this your father? Do you still call him father? Are you your father’s son (Pater hic tuus? Patrem nunc appellas? Patris tui filius)?”

Polysyndeton (figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.50-54): The figure in which there is the use of many connecting particles. One may repeat the same conjunctions, or use different ones.

Prolepsis (Praesumptio) (figure of thought, Inst. 9.2.16-18) The figure in which we forestall objections as to what we are about to say.

Prosopopoiia (Sermocinatio, Ethopoia, Mimesis) (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.42.55; Inst. 9.2.29-37; 9.2.58-63): The figure in which one puts in the mouth of some person language in keeping with his character. Imitation of other person’s characteristics, serves to excite the gentler emotions. Usually consists in banter, but may be concerned with words or deeds; e.g., “The wise man will think that for the common weal he ought to undergo every peril. Often he will say to himself ‘Not for self alone was I born, but also, and much more, for the fatherland. Above all, let me spend my life, which I owe to fate, for the salvation of my country.’”

Ratiocinatio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.16.23): The figure in which one asks the reason for every statement made and then gives the answer; e.g., “It is a good principle which our ancestors established, of not putting to death any king captured by force of arms. Why is this so? Because it were unfair to use the advantage vouchsafed to us by fortune to punish those whom the same fortune had but recently placed in the highest station.”

Rhetorical Question (Interrogatio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.15.22): The figure in which one asks questions to reinforce the argument; e.g., “So when you were doing and saying and managing all this, were you, or were you not, alienating and estranging from the republic the sentiments of our allies.”

Simile (Imago) (figure of thought, Rhet. Her. 4.49.62): The figure in which there is a comparison of one figure with another, implying a certain resemblance between them. This is used either for praise or censure; e.g., (Praise): “He entered the combat in body like the strongest bull, in impetuosity like the fiercest lion.”

Symploce (Complexio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.14.20; Inst. 9.3.31): The figure in which there is the combined use of antistrophe and anaphora: repeating both the first and the last words in a clause or phrase; e.g., “One whom the Senate has condemned, one whom the Roman people has condemned, one whom universal public opinion has condemned.”

Synechdoche (Intellectio) (trope, Rhet. Her. 4.33.44; Inst. 8.6.19-22): The trope in which the whole is known from the part, or the part from the whole. Look also for the singular from the plural and vice versa; e.g., “Were not those nuptial flutes reminding you of his wedding (i.e., the flutes for the whole marriage).”

(figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.64): The figure in which there is a connection of two different things: e.g., “The miser lacks that which he has no less than that which he has not.”

Synonymy (Interpretatio) (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.18.38-39): The figure in which one does not duplicate the same word, but substitutes another with the same meaning; e.g., “You have overturned (evertisti) the republic from its roots (radicitus); you have demolished (deiecisti) the state from its foundations (funditus).”

Traductio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.14.20-21): The figure in which there is a repetition of certain words without offense to style. Also, the same type of figure is used when using a word with the same spelling in different ways; e.g., “One who has nothing in life more desirable than life cannot cultivate a virtuous life,” or “I would leave this place, should the senate grant me leave.”

Transitio (figure of speech, Rhet. Her. 4.26.35; Inst. 9.3.70-74): The figure which briefly recalls what has been said, and likewise sets forth what is to follow; e.g., “My benefactions to the defendant you know; now learn how he has requited me.”

Zeugma (figure of speech, Inst. 9.3.62-64): The figure in which a number of clauses are all completed by the same verb.

This list contains 81 figures.  80 of these come directly from either Quintilian or Pseudo-Cicero.  One figure, Alliteration/Assonance, comes indirectly from from the Rhetorica ad Herennium as it is mentioned but not listed as a figure of speech (Rhet. Her. 4.12.18).  Therefore, for my definition I have relied on Lausberg's Handbook of Classical Rhetoric.


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