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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10009
Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 8.6


nan By a trope is meant the artistic alteration of a word or phrase from its proper meaning to another. This is a subject which has given rise to interminable disputes among the teachers of literature, who have quarrelled no less violently with the philosophers than among themselves over the number of the genera and species into which tropes may be divided, their number and their correct classification., I propose to disregard such quibbles as in no wise concern the training of an orator, and to proceed to discuss those tropes which are most necessary and meet with most general acceptance, contenting myself merely with stating the fact that some tropes are employed to help out our meaning and others to adorn our style, that some arise from words used properly and others from words used metaphorically, and that the changes involved concern not merely individual words, but also our thoughts and the structure of our sentences., In view of these facts I regard those writers as mistaken who have held that tropes necessarily involved the substitution of word for word. And I do not ignore the fact that as a rule the tropes employed to express our meaning involve ornament as well, though the converse is not the case, since there are some which are intended solely for the purpose of embellishment., Let us begin, then, with the commonest and by far the most beautiful of tropes, namely, metaphor, the Greek term for our translatio. It is not merely so natural a turn of speech that it is often employed unconsciously or by uneducated persons, but it is in itself so attractive and elegant that however distinguished the language in which it is embedded it shines forth with a light that is all its own., For if it be correctly and appropriately applied, it is quite impossible for its effect to be commonplace, mean or unpleasing. It adds to the copiousness of language by the interchange of words and by borrowing, and finally succeeds in accomplishing the supremely difficult task of providing a name for everything. A noun or a verb is transferred from the place to which it properly belongs to another where there is either no literal term or the transferred is better than the literal., We do this either because it is necessary or to make our meaning clearer or, as I have already said, to produce a decorative effect. When it secures none of these results, our metaphor will be out of place. As an example of a necessary metaphor I may quote the following usages in vogue with peasants when they call a vinebud gemma, a gem (what other term is there which they could use?), or speak of the crops being thirsty or the fruit suffering. For the same reason we speak of a hard or rough man, there being no literal term for these temperaments., On the other hand, when we say that a man is kindled to anger or on fire with greed or that he has fallen into error, we do so to enhance our meaning. For none of these things can be more literally described in its own words station in those which we import from elsewhere. But it is a purely ornamental metaphor when we speak of brilliance of style, splendour of birth, tempestuous public assemblies, thunderbolts of eloquence, to which I may add the phrase employed by Cicero in his defence of Milo where he speaks Clodius as the fountain, and in another place as the fertile field and material of his client's glory., It is even possible to express facts of a somewhat unseemly character by a judicious use of metaphor, as in the following passage: "This they do lest too much indulgence make The field of generation slothful grow And choke its idle furrows." On the whole metaphor is a shorter form of simile, while there is this further difference, that in the latter we compare some object to the thing which we wish to describe, whereas in the former this object is actually substituted for the thing., It is a comparison when I say that a man did something like a lion, it is a metaphor when I say of him, He is a lion. Metaphors fall into four classes. In the first we substitute one living thing for another, as in the passage where the poet, speaking of a charioteer, says, "The steersman then With mighty effort wrenched his charger round." or when Livy says that Scipio was continually barked at by Cato., Secondly, inanimate things may be substituted for inanimate, as in the Virgilian "And gave his fleet the rein," or inanimate may be substituted for animate, as in "Did the Argive bulwark fall by sword or fate?" or animate for inanimate, as in the following lines: "The shepherd sits unknowing on the height Listening the roar from some far mountain brow.", But, above all, effects of extraordinary sublimity are produced when the theme is exalted by a bold and almost hazardous metaphor and inanimate objects are given life and action, as in the phraseanimate "Araxes' flood that scorns a bridge,", or in the passage of Cicero, already quoted, where he cries, "What was that sword of yours doing, Tubero, the sword you drew on the field of Pharsalus? Against whose body did you aim its point? What meant those arms you bore?" Sometimes the effect is doubled, as in Virgil's "And with venom arm the steel." For both "to arm the steel" "to arm with venom" are metaphors., These four kinds of metaphor are further subdivided into a number of species, such as transference from rational beings to rational and from irrational to irrational and the reverse, in which the method is the same, and finally from the whole to its parts and from the parts to the whole. But I am not now teaching boys: my readers old enough to discover the species for themselves when once they have been given the genus., While a temperate and timely use of metaphor is a real adornment to style, on the other hand, its frequent use serves merely to obscure our language and weary our audience, while if we introduce them in one continuous series, our language will become allegorical and enigmatic. There are also certain metaphors which fail from meanness, such as that of which I spoke above: "There is a rocky wart upon the mountain's brow." or they may even be worse. For it does not follow that because Cicero was perfectly justified in talking of "the sink of the state," when he desired to indicate the foulness of certain men, we can approve the following passage from an ancient orator: "You have lanced the boils of the state.", Indeed Cicero himself has demonstrated in the most admirable manner how important it is to avoid grossness in metaphor, such as is revealed by the following examples, which he quotes:— "The state was gelded by the death of Africanus," or "Glaucia, the excrement of the senate-house.", He also points out that a metaphor must not be too great for its subject or, as is more frequently the case, too little, and that it must not be inappropriate. Anyone who realises that these are faults, will be able to detect instances of them only too frequently. But excess in the use of metaphor is also a fault, more especially if they are of the same species., Metaphors may also be harsh, that is, far-fetched, as in phrases like "the snows of the head" or "Jove with white snow the wintry Alps bespewed." The worst errors of all, however, originate in the fact that some authors regard it as permissible to use even in prose any metaphors that are allowed to poets, in spite of the fact that the latter aim solely at pleasing their readers and are compelled in many cases to employ metaphor by sheer metrical necessity., For my own part I should not regard a phrase like "the shepherd of the people" as admissible in pleading, although it has the authority of Homer, nor would I venture to say that winged creatures "swim through the air," dispute the fact that this metaphor has been most effectively employed by Virgil to describe the flight of bees and of Daedalus. For metaphor should always either occupy a place already vacant, or if it fills the room of something else, should be more impressive than that which it displaces., What I have said above applies perhaps with even greater force to synecdochè. For while metaphor is designed to move the feelings, give special distinction to things and place them vividly before the eye, synecdochè has the power to give variety to our language by making us realise many things from one, the whole from a part, the genus from a species, things which follow from things which have preceded; or, on the other hand, the whole procedure may be reversed. It may, however, be more freely employed by poets than by orators., For while in prose it is perfectly correct to use mucro, the point, for the whole sword, and tectum, roof, for a whole house, we may not employ puppis, stern, to describe a ship, nor abies, fir, to db planks; and again, though ferrum, the steel, may be used to indicate a sword, quadrupes cannot be used in the sense of horse. It is where numbers are concerned that synecdochè can be most freely employed in prose. For example, Livy frequently says, "The Roman won the day," when he means that the Romans were victorious; on the other hand, Cicero in a letter to Brutus says, "We have imposed on the people and are regarded as orators," when he is speaking of himself alone., This form of trope is not only a rhetorical ornament, but is frequently employed in everyday speech. Some also apply the term synecdochè when something is assumed which hasn't actually been expressed, since one word is then discovered from other words, as in the sentence, "The Arcadians to the gates began to rush;" when such omission creates a blemish, it is called an ellipse., For my own part, I prefer to regard this as a figure, and shall therefore discuss it under that head. Again, one thing may be suggested by another, as in the line, "Behold, the steers Bring back the plough suspended from the yoke," from which we infer the approach of night. I am not sure whether this is permissible to an orator except in arguments, when it serves as an indication of some fact. However, this has nothing to do with the question of style., It is but a short step from synecdochè to metonymy, which consists in the substitution of one name for another, and, as Cicero tells us, is called hypallage by the rhetoricians. These devices are employed to indicate an invention by substituting the name of the inventor, or a possession by substituting the name of the possessor. Virgil, for example, writes: "Ceres by water spoiled," and Horace: "Neptune admitted to the land Protects the fleets from blasts of Aquilo." If, however, the process is reversed, the effect is harsh., But it is important to enquire to what extent tropes of this kind should be employed by the orator. For though we often hear "Vulcan" used for fire and to say vario Marte pugnatumest for "they fought with varying success" is elegant and idiomatic, while Venus is a more decent expression than coitus, it would be too bold for the severe style demanded in the courts to speak of Liber and Ceres when we mean wine and bread. Again, while usage permits us to substitute that which contains for that which is contained, as in phrases such as "civilised cities," or "a cup was drunk to the lees," or "a happy age,", the converse procedure would rarely be ventured on by any save a poet: take, for example, the phrase: "Ucalegon burns next." It is, however, perhaps more permissible to describe what is possessed by reference to its possessor, as, for example, to say of a man whose estate is being squandered, "the man is being eaten up." Of this form there are innumerable species., For example, we say "sixty thousand men were slain by Hannibal at Cannae," and speak of "Virgil" when we mean "Virgil's poems"; again, we say that supplies have "come," when they have been "brought," that a "sacrilege," and not a "sacrilegious man" has been detected, and that man possesses a knowledge of "arms," not of "the art of arms.", The type which indicates cause by effect is common both in poets and orators. As examples from poetry I may quote: "Pale death with equal foot knocks at the poor man's door" and "There pale diseases dwell and sad old age;" while the orator will speak of "headlong anger," "cheerful youth" or "slothful ease.", The following type of trope has also some kinship with synecdochè. For when I speak of a man's "looks" instead of his "look," I use the plural for the singular, but my aim is not to enable one thing to be inferred from many (for the sense is clear enough), but I merely vary the form of the word. Again, when I call a "gilded roof" a "golden roof," I diverge a little from the truth, because gilding forms only a part of the roof. But to follow out these points is a task involving too much minute detail even for a work whose aim is not the training of an orator., Antonomasia, which substitutes something else for a proper name, is very common in poets: it may be done in two ways: by the substitution no an epithet as equivalent to the name which it replaces, such as "Tydides," "Pelides," or by indicating the most striking characteristics of an individual, as in the phrase "Father of gods and king of men," or from acts clearly indicating the individual, as in the phrase, "The arms which he, the traitor, left Fixed on the chamber wall.", This form of trope is rare in oratory, but is occasionally employed. For although an orator does not say "Tydides" or "Pelides," he will speak of certain definite persons as "the impious parricides," while I should have no hesitation in speaking Scipio as "the destroyer of Carthage and Numantia," or of Cicero as "the prince of Roman orators." Cicero himself, at any rate, availed himself of this licence, as, for example, in the following case: "Your faults are not many, said the old praeceptor to the hero," where neither name is given, though both are clearly understood., On the other hand, onomatopoea, that is to say, the creation of a word, although regarded with the highest approbation by the Greeks, is scarcely permissible to a Roman. It is true that many words were created in this way by the original founders of the language, who adapted them to suit the sensation which they expressed. For instance, mugitus, lowing, sibilus, a hiss, and murmur owe their origin to this practice., But to‑day we consider that all has been done that can be done in this line, and do not venture on fresh creations, in spite of the fact that many of the words thus formed in antiquity are daily becoming obsolete. Indeed, we scarcely permit ourselves to use new derivatives, so they are called, which are formed in various ways from words in common use, such as Sullaturit, "he wishes to be a second Sulla," or proscripturit, "he wishes to have a proscription," while laureati postes, "laurelled door-posts," for lauru coronati, "crowned with laurel," are similar formations., ********, These facts make catachresis (of which abuse is a correct translation) all the more necessary. By this term is meant the practice of adapting the nearest available term to describe something for which no actual term exists, as in the line "A horse they build by Pallas' art divine," or as in the expression found in tragedy, "To Aigaleus His sire bears funeral offerings,", The following examples are of a similar character. Flasks are called acetabula, whatever they contain, and caskets pyxides, of whatever material they are made, while parricide includes the murder of a mother or a brother. We must be careful to distinguish between abuse and metaphor, since the former is employed where there is no proper term available, and the latter when there is another term available. As for poets, they indulge in the abuse of words even in cases when proper terms do exist, and substitute words of somewhat similar meaning. But this is rare in prose., Some, indeed, would give the name of catachresis even to cases such as where we call temerity valour or prodigality liberality. I, however, cannot agree with them; for in these instances word is not substituted for word, but thing for thing, since no one regards prodigality and liberality as meaning the same, but one man calls certain actions liberal and another prodigal, although neither for a moment doubts the difference between the two qualities., There is but one of the tropes involving change of meaning which remains to be discussed, namely, metalepsis or transumption, which provides a transition from one trope to another. It is (if we except comedy) but rarely used in Latin, and is by no means to be commended, though it is not infrequently employed by the Greeks, who, for example, call Χείρων the centaurἬσσων and substitute the epithet θοαί (swift) for ὄξειαι in referring to sharp-pointed islands. But who would endure a Roman if he called Verres sus or change the name of Aelius Catus to Aelius doctus?, It is the nature of metalepsis to form a kind of intermediate step between the term transferred and the thing to which it is transferred, having no meaning in itself, but merely providing a transition. It is a trope with which to claim acquaintance, rather than one which we are ever likely to require to use. The commonest example is the following: cano is a synonym for canto and canto for dico, therefore cano is a synonym for dico, the intermediate step being provided by canto., We need not waste any more time over it. I can see no use in it except, as I have already said, in comedy., The remaining tropes are employed solely to adorn and enhance our style without any reference to the meaning. For the epithet, of which the correct translation is appositum, though some call it sequens, is clearly an ornament. Poets employ it with special frequency and freedom, since for them it is sufficient that the epithet should suit the word to which it is applied: consequently we shall not blame them when they speak of "white teeth" or "liquid wine." But in oratory an epithet is redundant unless it has some point. Now it will only have point when it adds something to the meaning, as for instance in the following: "O abominable crime, O hideous lust!", But its decorative effect is greatest when it is metaphorical, as in the phrases "unbridled greed" or "those mad piles of masonry." The epithet is generally made into a trope by the addition of something to it, as when Virgil speaks of "disgraceful poverty" or "sad age." But the nature of this form of embellishment is such that, while style is bare and inelegant without any epithets at all, it is overloaded when a large number are employed., For then it becomes long-winded and cumbrous, in fact you might compare it to an army with as many camp-followers as soldiers, an army, that is to say, which has doubled its numbers without doubling its thought to have. None the less, not merely single epithets are employed, but we may find a number of them together, as in the following passage from Virgil: "Anchises, worthy deigned Of Venus' glorious bed, beloved of heaven, Twice rescued from the weck of Pergamum.", Be this as it may, two epithets directly attached to one noun are unbecoming even in verse. There are some writers who refuse to regard an epithet as a trope, on the ground that it involves no change. It is not always a trope, but if separated from the word to which it belongs, it has a significance of its own and forms an antonomasia. For if you say, "The man who destroyed Numantia and Carthage," it will be an antonomasia, whereas, if you add the word "Scipio," the phrase will be an epithet. An epithet therefore cannot stand by itself., Allegory, which is translated in Latin by inversio, either presents one thing in words and another in meaning, or else something absolutely opposed to the meaning of the words. The first type is generally produced by a series of metaphors. Take as an example: "O ship, new waves will bear thee back to sea. What dost thou? Make the haven, come what may," and the rest of the ode, in which Horace represents the state under the semblance of a ship, the civil wars as tempests, and peace and good-will as the haven., Such, again, is the claim of Lucretius: "Pierian fields I range untrod by man," mention such again the passage where Virgil says, "But now A mighty length of plain we have travelled o'er; 'Tis time to loose our horses' steaming necks.", On the other hand, in the Bucolics he introduces an allegory without any metaphor: "Truth, I had heard Your loved Menalcas by his songs had saved All those fair acres, where the hills begin To sink and droop their ridge with easy slope Down to the waterside and that old beech With splintered crest.", For in this passage, with the exception of the proper name, the words bear no more than their literal meaning. But the name does not simply denote the shepherd Menalcas, but is a pseudonym for Virgil himself. Oratory makes frequent use of such allegory, but generally with this moderation, that there is an admixture of plain speaking. We get allegory pure and unadulterated in the following passage of Cicero: "What I marvel at and complain of is this, that there should exist any man so set on destroying his enemy as to scuttle the ship on which he himself is sailing.", The following is an example of the commonest type, namely, the mixed allegory: "I always thought that Milo would have other storms and tempests to weather, at least in the troubled waters of political meetings." Had he not added the words "at least in the troubled waters of political meetings," we should have had pure allegory: their addition, however, converted it into a mixed allegory. In this type of allegory the ornamental element is provided by the metaphorical words and the meaning is indicated by those which are used literally., But far the most ornamental effect is produced by the artistic admixture of simile, metaphor and allegory, as in the following example: "What strait, what tide-race, think you, is full of so many conflicting emotions or vexed by such a variety of eddies, waves and fluctuations, as confuse our popular elections with their wild ebb and flow? The passing of one day, or the rival of a single night, will often throw everything into confusion, and one little breath of rumour will sometimes turn the whole trend of opinion.", For it is all-important to follow the principle illustrated by this passage and never to mix your metaphors. But there are many who, after beginning with a tempest, will end with a fire or a falling house, with the result that they produce a hideously incongruous effect., For the rest, allegory is often used by men of little ability and in the conversation of everyday life. For those hackneyed phrases of forensic pleading, "to fight hand to hand," "to attack the throat," or "to let blood" are all of them allegorical, although they do not strike the attention: for it is novelty and change that please in oratory, and what is unexpected always gives special delight. Consequently we have thrown all restraint to the wind in such matters, and have destroyed the charm of language by the extravagant efforts which we have made to attain it., Illustrative examples also involve allegory if not preceded by an explanation; for there are numbers of sayings available for use like the "Dionysius is at Corinth," which is such a favourite with the Greeks. When, however, an allegory is too obscure, we call it a riddle: such riddles are, in my opinion, to be regarded as blemishes, in view of the fact that lucidity is a virtue; nevertheless they are used by poets, as, for example, by Virgil in the following lines: "Say in what land, and if thou tell me true, I'll hold thee as Apollo's oracle, Three ells will measure all the arch of heaven.", Even orators sometimes use them, as when Caelius speaks of the "Clytemnestra who sold her favours for a farthing, who was a Coan in the dining-room and a Nolan in her bedroom." For although we know the answers, and although they were better known at the time when the words were uttered, they are riddles for all that; and other riddles are, after all, intelligible if you can get someone to explain them., On the other hand, that class of allegory in which the meaning is contrary to that suggested by the words, involve an element of irony, or, as our rhetoricians call it, illusio. This is made evident to the understanding either by the delivery, the character of the speaker or the nature of the subject. For if any one of these three is out of keeping with the words, it at once becomes clear that the intention of the speaker is other than what he actually says., In the majority of tropes it is, however, important to bear in mind not merely what is said, but about whom it is said, since what is said may in another context be literally true. It is permissible to censure with a counterfeited praise and praise under a pretence of blame. The following with serve as an example of the first. "Since Gaius Verres, the urban praetor, being a man of energy and blameless character, had no record in his register of this substitution of this man for another on the panel." As an example of the revers process we may take the following: "We are regarded as orators and have imposed on the people.", Sometimes, again, we may speak in mockery when we say the opposite of what we desire to be understood, as in Cicero's denunciation of Clodius: "Believe me, your well-known integrity has cleared you of all blame, your modesty has saved you, your past life has been your salvation.", Further, we may employ allegory, and disguise bitter taunts in gentle words by way of wit, or we may indicate our meaning by saying exactly the contrary or . . . If the Greek names for these methods are unfamiliar to any of my readers, I would remind him that they are σαρκασμός, ἀστεϊσμός, ἀντίφρασις and παροιμία (sarcasm, urbane wit, contradiction and proverbs)., There are, however, some writers who deny that these are species of allegory, and assert that they are actually tropes in themselves: for they argue shrewdly that allegory involves an element of obscurity, whereas in all these cases our meaning is perfectly obvious. To this may be added the fact that when a genus is divided into species, it ceases to have any particular properties of its own: for example, we may divide tree into its species, pine, olive, cypress, etc., leaving it no properties of its own, whereas allegory always has some property peculiar to itself. The only explanation of this fact is that it is itself a species. But this, of course, is a matter of indifference to those that use it., To these the Greeks add μυκτηρισμός, or mockery under the thinnest of disguises. When we use a number of words to describe something for which one, or at any rate only a few words of description would suffice, it is called periphrasis, that is, a circuitous mode of speech. It is sometimes necessary, being of special service when it conceals something which would be indecent, if expressed in so many words: compare the phrase "To meet the demands of nature" from Sallust., But at times it is employed solely for decorative effect, a practice most frequent among the poets: "Now was the time When the first sleep to weary mortals comes Stealing its way, the sweetest boon of heaven.", Still it is far from uncommon even in oratory, though in such cases it is always used with greater restraint. For whatever may have been expressed with greater brevity, but is expanded for purposes of ornament, is a periphrasis, to which we give the name circumlocution, though it is a term scarcely suitable to describe one of the virtues of oratory. But it is only called periphrasis so long as it produces a decorative effect: when it passes into excess, it is known as perissology: for whatever is not a help, is a positive hindrance., Again, hyperbaton, that is, the transposition of a word, is often demanded by the structure of the sentence and the claims of elegance, and is consequently counted among the ornaments of style. For our language would often be harsh, rough, limp or disjointed, if the words were always arranged in their natural order and attached each to each just as they occur, despite the fact that there is no real bond of union. Consequently some words require to be postponed, others to be anticipated, each being set in its appropriate place., For we are like those who build a wall of unhewn stone: we cannot hew or polish our words in order to make them fit more compactly, and so we must take them as they are and choose suitable positions for them., Further, it is impossible to make our prose rhythmical except by artistic alterations in the order of words, and the reason why those four words in which Plato in the noblest of his works states that he had gone down to the Piraeus were found written in a number of different orders upon his wax tablets, was simply that he desired to make the rhythm as perfect as possible., When, however, the transposition is confined to two words only, it is called anastrophe, that is, a reversal of order. This occurs in everyday speech in mecum and secum, while in orators and historians we meet with it in the phrase quibus de rebus. It is the transposition of a word to some distance from its original place, in order to secure an ornamental effect, that is strictly called hyperbaton: the following passage will provide an example: animadverti, iudices, omnem accusatoris orationem in duas divisam esse partes. ("I noted, gentlemen, that the speech of the accuser was divided into two parts.") In this case the strictly correct order would be in duas partes divisam esse, but this would have been harsh and ugly., The poets even go so far as to secure this effect by the division of words, as in the line: Hyperboreo septem subiecta trioni ("Under the Hyperborean Wain"), a licence wholly inadmissible in oratory. Still there is good reason for calling such a transposition a trope, since the meaning is not complete until the two words have been put together., On the other hand, when the transposition makes no alteration in the sense, and merely produces a variation in the structure, it is rather to be called a verbal figure, as indeed many authorities have held. Of the faults resulting from long or confused hyperbata I have spoken in the appropriate place. I have kept hyperbole to the last, on the ground of its boldness. It means an elegant straining of the truth, and may be employed indifferently for exaggeration or attenuation. It can be used in various ways., We may say more than the actual facts, as when Cicero says, "He vomited and filled his lap and the whole tribunal with fragments of food," or when Virgil speaks of "Twin rocks that threaten heaven." Again, we may exalt our theme by the use of simile, as in the phrase: "Thou wouldst have deemed That Cyclad isles uprooted swam the deep.", Or we may produce the same result by introducing a comparison, as in the phrase: "Swifter than the levin's wings;" or by the use of indications, as in the lines: "She would fly Even o'er the tops of the unsickled corn, Nor as she ran would bruise the tender ears." Or we may employ a metaphor, as the verb to fly is employed in the passage just quoted., Sometimes, again, one hyperbole may be heightened by the addition of another, as when Cicero in denouncing Antony says: "What Charybdis was ever so voracious? Charybdis, do I say? Nay, if Charybdis ever existed, she was but a single monster. By heaven, even Ocean's self, methinks, could scarce have engulfed so many things, so widely scattered in such distant places, in such a twinkling of the eye.", I think, too, that I am right in saying that I noted a brilliant example of the same kind in the Hymns of Pindar, the prince of lyric poets. For when he describes the onslaught made by Hercules upon the Meropes, the legendary inhabitants of the island of Cos, he speaks of the hero as like not to fire, winds or sea, but to the thunderbolt, making the latter the only true equivalent of his speed and power, the former being treated as quite inadequate., Cicero has imitated his method in the following passage from the Verrines: "After long lapse of years the Sicilians saw dwelling in their midst, not a second Dionysius or Phalaris (for that island has produced many a cruel tyrant in years gone by), but a new monster with all the old ferocity once familiar to those regions. For, to my thinking, neither Scylla nor Charybdis were ever such foes as he to the ships that sailed those same narrow seas.", The methods of hyperbole by attenuation are the same in number. Compare the Virgilian "Scarce cling they to their bones," or the lines from a humorous work of Cicero's, "Fundum Vetto vocat quem possit mittere funda; Ni tamen exciderit, qua cava funda pater." "Vetto gives the name of farm to an estate which might easily be hurled from a sling, though it might well fall through the hole in the hollow sling, so small is it." But even here a certain proportion must be observed. For although every hyperbole involves the incredible, it must not go too far in this direction, which provides the easiest road to extravagant affectation., I shrink from recording the faults to which the lack of this sense of proportion has given rise, more especially as they are so well known and obvious. It is enough to say that hyperbole lies, though without any intention to deceive. We must therefore be all the more careful to consider how far we may go in exaggerating facts which our audience may refuse to believe. Again, hyperbole will often cause a laugh. If that was what the orator desired, we may give him credit for wit; otherwise we can only call him a fool., Hyperbole is employed even by peasants and uneducated persons, for the good reason that everybody has an innate passion for exaggeration or attenuation of actual facts, and no one is ever contented with the simple truth. But such disregard of truth is pardonable, for it does not involve the definite assertion of the thing that is not., Hyperbole is, moreover, a virtue, when the subject on which we have to speak is abnormal. For we allowed to amplify, when the magnitude of the facts passes all words, and in such circumstances our language will be more effective if it goes beyond the truth than if it falls short of it. However, I have said enough on this topic, since I have already dealt with it in my work on the causes of the decline of oratory.


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1. Hebrew Bible, Exodus, 34.29-34.35 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

34.29. וַיְהִי בְּרֶדֶת מֹשֶׁה מֵהַר סִינַי וּשְׁנֵי לֻחֹת הָעֵדֻת בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה בְּרִדְתּוֹ מִן־הָהָר וּמֹשֶׁה לֹא־יָדַע כִּי קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו בְּדַבְּרוֹ אִתּוֹ׃ 34.31. וַיִּקְרָא אֲלֵהֶם מֹשֶׁה וַיָּשֻׁבוּ אֵלָיו אַהֲרֹן וְכָל־הַנְּשִׂאִים בָּעֵדָה וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֲלֵהֶם׃ 34.32. וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן נִגְּשׁוּ כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְצַוֵּם אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אִתּוֹ בְּהַר סִינָי׃ 34.33. וַיְכַל מֹשֶׁה מִדַּבֵּר אִתָּם וַיִּתֵּן עַל־פָּנָיו מַסְוֶה׃ 34.34. וּבְבֹא מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ יָסִיר אֶת־הַמַּסְוֶה עַד־צֵאתוֹ וְיָצָא וְדִבֶּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת אֲשֶׁר יְצֻוֶּה׃ 34.35. וְרָאוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־פְּנֵי מֹשֶׁה כִּי קָרַן עוֹר פְּנֵי מֹשֶׁה וְהֵשִׁיב מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַמַּסְוֶה עַל־פָּנָיו עַד־בֹּאוֹ לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ׃ 34.29. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of the testimony in Moses’hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face sent forth abeams while He talked with him." 34.30. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face sent forth beams; and they were afraid to come nigh him." 34.31. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him; and Moses spoke to them." 34.32. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai." 34.33. And when Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face." 34.34. But when Moses went in before the LORD that He might speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and he came out; and spoke unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded." 34.35. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’face sent forth beams; and Moses put the veil back upon his face, until he went in to speak with Him."
2. New Testament, 2 Corinthians, 3.6-3.18 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

3. New Testament, Galatians, 4.22-4.29 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

4.22. For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by thehandmaid, and one by the free woman. 4.23. However, the son by thehandmaid was born according to the flesh, but the son by the free womanwas born through promise. 4.24. These things contain an allegory, forthese are two covets. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children tobondage, which is Hagar. 4.25. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai inArabia, and answers to the Jerusalem that exists now, for she is inbondage with her children. 4.26. But the Jerusalem that is above isfree, which is the mother of us all. 4.27. For it is written,"Rejoice, you barren who don't bear. Break forth and shout, you that don't travail. For more are the children of the desolate than of her who has a husband. 4.28. Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 4.29. But as then, he who was born according to the flesh persecutedhim who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
4. New Testament, Romans, 11.16-11.24 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

11.16. If the first fruit is holy, so is the lump. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 11.17. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree; 11.18. don't boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. 11.19. You will say then, "Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. 11.20. True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith. Don't be conceited, but fear; 11.21. for if God didn't spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 11.22. See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 11.23. They also, if they don't continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 11.24. For if you were cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
5. Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory, 8.6.1 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

8.6.1.  By a trope is meant the artistic alteration of a word or phrase from its proper meaning to another. This is a subject which has given rise to interminable disputes among the teachers of literature, who have quarrelled no less violently with the philosophers than among themselves over the number of the genera and species into which tropes may be divided, their number and their correct classification.
6. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 8.6 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
abraham, the patriarch, descent from Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
alexandria, school of, allegorical hermeneutic of Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
allegory, alexandrian Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
allegory, origens Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
allegory, tropic character of Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
arianism Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
aristotle Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
bloom, harold Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
boyarin, daniel, intertextuality and the reading of midrash Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
boyarin, daniel, on circumcision Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
boyarin, daniel, on incarnation Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
boyarin, daniel, on midrash Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
boyarin, daniel, on origen Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
church, as new israel Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
circumcision, boyarin on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
circumcision, of the heart Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 228
communication Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
construction Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
faith Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
fogelin, robert j. Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
frei, frei on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
frei, hans, on literal sense Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
frei, hans, on origen Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
genealogy, as flesh Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
genera Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
god, intervention of Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
grace, and faith Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
hays, richard b., echoes of scripture in the letters of paul Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226, 227
hermeneutics, alexandrian Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
identity, christian, effect of figural reading on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
identity, christian, origen on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
identity, jewish, boyarin on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
incarnation, boyarin on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
israel, community of, genealogy of Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
israel, community of, paul on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
letter and spirit, paul on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225, 227, 228
literal sense, auerbach on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
literal sense, frei on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
meaning, figurative Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
metaphor Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224; Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
middle ages Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
midrash, boyarin on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
midrash, christian thought on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
mimesis Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
moses, veil of, paul on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 228
nan, audience Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
nonliterality, figurative Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
origen of alexandria, allegorical reading of Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
origen of alexandria, boyarin on Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
origen of alexandria, on christian identity Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
paul, the apostle, and alexandrian allegory Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
paul, the apostle, construction of signifiers Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
paul, the apostle, interpretation of israel Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
paul, the apostle, on letter and spirit Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225, 227, 228
paul, the apostle, on veil of moses Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 228
paul, the apostle, supersessionism of Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
peshat Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
quintilian, institutio oratoria Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
signifiers, pauls construction of Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 225
similes Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
speaker Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
species Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
speech Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
style Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
supersessionism, pauls Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 227
teacher Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
testament, and peshat Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 224
thinking Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
transformation, divine Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 226
transformation, spiritual Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
trope, scripture as' Dawson, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity (2001) 14
tropes Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246
values Robbins, von Thaden and Bruehler,Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration : A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (2006)" 246