Figures of Speech III
Bill Long 3/26/08
8. If every grammatical device were as simple as epizeuxis, we would all be joining hands and singing "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." Derived from Greek words meaning "fastening together," it means the "repetition of a word with or for emphasis." Puttenham's example gets us started: "Ye have another sort of repetition, when...ye iterate one word without any intermission, as thus--It was Maryne, Maryne that wrong mine woe. The Greekes call him, Epizeuxis, the Latins Subiunctio." Coleridge, in the Ancient Mariner, used the device:
"Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea."
My favorite Biblical example is when David realized that his son was dead, "Oh Absalom, my son, my son Absalom...." Donatus, as usual, gives us an example from the Aeneid (maybe that should be the next epic I memorize, after Paradise Lost),
"me, me, adsum qui feci, in me convertite ferrum," 9.427,
which may be translated, "On me, on me, I am here, who did it, on me turn your blade." Probably because it is so simple and unequivocal there is another word for it: palilogy, though it is spelled pallilogy in the Century and both ways in the Unabridged. From the Classical Quarterly, in 1970: "Note the emotional effect obtained through palillogy and diaeresis pauses at the end of the first foot of both lines.." So, now you see how you can use at least two of the devices I have taught you.
Guess what? There is even a third word for this kind of repetition: diplasiasmus, even though the OED doesn't have it. It can mean, in orthography, the writing a letter double which is usually written single (as the Greek tossos for tosos) or, in rhetoric, the repetition of a word or name for emphasis. The example given is "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets.." (Matt 23:37). I think the ancients, and more modern people too, were so grateful as to finally discover an easy term to understand that they multiplied the words for it--thus giving them more reason to pause on the words that describe the phenomenon. I think that the way to get into the confusion of study is to begin with clarity. Then, before rushing to something more difficult, I would recommend that you just stay with clarity for a long time--perhaps longer than you need. At least you will be convinced that even if everything else is collapsing around you, you have one anchor in the storm--epizeuxis. Or palilogy. Or diplasiasmus.
9. Epanalepsis is a repetition of the same word at the beginning and end of the verse. Thus, we see how it differs from anaphora or anadiplosis or even epistrophe. Isidore provides an example from Juvenal:
"Crescit amor nummi quantum ipsa pecunia crescit,"
or "the love of money grows as wealth itself grows." Hm. Maybe that is one of the Latin phrases that is worth learning by heart.
10. Paronomasia is a very good word to have as a friend. In a word, it is a pun. Online sources of puns are too numerous to need mention. Indeed, through many would say that punning is the lowest kind of humor, I think that a good punning ability approximates the divine. Let me introduce you to a Latin pun or two. From Donatus, quoting Terence:
"Nam inceptio est amentium, haut amantium,"
or "This is a scheme more of madmen than of lovers." Thus, the only difference between someone deranged and someone in love is an "a" (or "e"). Very funny. Isidore defines paranomasia as "the use of nearly the same word with a different meaning." His example:
"Abire an obire te convenit?"
Or, "Are you going pass on or pass away?" Or, in other words, are you going into exile or dying? Punning is complex and many-faceted in English. Don't quit until you make them your joy.
11. Schesis onomaton is "a group of linked nouns in a kind of parade," Etymologies I.36.14. Literally speaking, a schesis onomaton is a "contrivance" or "scheme" of "names." Burton defies it (s.v. scesis) as "a series of successive, synonymous expressions." The word schesis is derived from the Greek verb exein, which means to "have" or "hold." The Century defines its rhetorical meaning as "a statement of what is considered to be the adversary's habitude of mind, by way of argument against him." Hm. This seems to go far beyond the grammatical meaning, so let's stick to that meaning. This page gives several catchy examples, among which is this one, from the movie Malcolm X:
"Every time you break the seal on that liquor bottle, that's a Government seal you're breaking. Oh, I say and I say it again, ya been had! Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led Astray! Run amok!."
Isidore quotes the famous Epicurean poem by Lucretius, On The Nature of Things, 5.1192:
"Nubila, nix, grando, procellae, fulmina, venti,"
which means "clouds, snow, hail, tempests, lightning, winds."
12. Let's finish this essay with an easy one: alliteration. Donatus and the Venerable Bede known it as paromoeon or parhomoeon. Burton spells it paroemion. It is simply the several successive words begin with the same letter. I like the Latin example in Donautus, copied by Isidore:
"o Tite tute Tati tibi tanta tyranne tulisti,"
which is from Ennius. Here is a translation: "Yourself upon yourself, Oh Titus Tatius the Tyrant, you took these terrible troubles." This, like the pun stated above, was very familiar to Latin audiences. Examples may be multiplied without number in English.
Though this last example, and the example of paronomasia, have humorous dimensions, each one of these is more than simply a grammatical device; it can function as an important part of rhetorical strategy, a strategy which tries to inform, entertain and persuade. Unless you are ultimately able to persuade when you speak, your words are, to paraphrase St. Paul, "a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." But once you realize the various ways that words can work for you; why then you are ready to captivate most people in most of your audiences....
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long