Definitions of Figures

The glossary includes all figures included on the AP syllabus. They are defined, and examples in both Latin (from the texts in this volume whenever possible, and from other AP syllabi otherwise) and modern English are included. Where further explanation is deemed helpful, a discussion section is included.

allegory. A form of comparative representation that uses an extended narrative to stand for an abstract idea, a series of relationships, or another narrative, often without specifying explic- itly the connection between the two.

Latin example. It was common in the Middle Ages for Christian writers to allegorize (i.e. make an allegory of) stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: the Apollo and Daphne story has been allegorized as Satan chasing the pure soul which is saved by divine intervention. The Pygmalion story, in which a sculptor sculpts the perfect woman after being disgusted with the women around him, has been allegorized as a mentor teaching a young woman the skills necessary to survive in society.

English example. George Orwell’s Animal Farm, in which the Russian Revolution and the ensuing political wrangling is allegorized via an animal fable in which the animals overthrow their human overseer and then struggle among themselves to establish power.

Discussion. The traditional definition of allegory as an ‘extended metaphor’ is misleading (if not entirely mis- taken). The difficult conceptual aspect to allegory is the relationship between the allegory itself or the allegor- ical narrative, and that which the allegory represents. In a metaphor (or a simile for that matter) elements of the comparison are made clear, e.g. ‘Apollo is a monster’ or ‘Apollo is like a monster’. The allegory, however, does not provide the ‘Apollo’ element. It is left to the reader to understand that the ‘monster’ refers to Apollo. In many allegories, these connections do not require explanation (Orwell’s Animal Farm above is one such example, as is Dante’s Divine Comedy), but the idea of allegory does enable readers to ‘see’ allegories where none were intended (e.g. the TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island has been, not with much credibility I might add, inter- preted as an allegory for the seven deadly sins).

alliteration. The repetition of the same letter or sounds.
Latin example. deseruitque ducem caelique cupidine tractus (Met. 8.224, Daedalus and Icarus)

English example. “A bridal bower becomes a burial bier of bitter bereavement.” (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)

anaphora. The unnecessary repetition of words for emphasis.

Latin examples. nec quid Hymen, quid amor, quid sint conubia curat. (Met. 1.480, Apollo and Daphne); semper habebunt / te coma, te citharae, te nostrae, laure, pharetrae. (Met. 1.558-559, Apollo and Daphne)

English example. “To raise a happy, healthy, and hopeful child, it takes a family; it takes teachers; it takes clergy; it takes business people; it takes community leaders; it takes those who protect our health and safety. It takes all of us.” (Hillary Clinton, 1996 Democratic National Convention); “If my opponent had been at the moon launch, it would have been a risky rocket scheme. If he had been there when Edison was testing the lightbulb, it would have been a risky anti-candle scheme. And if he’d have been there when the internet was invented…” (George W. Bush, 2000 Republican National Convention)

aposiopesis. The abrupt breaking off in mid-sentence for rhetorical effect.

Latin example. Iam caelum terramque meo sine numine, venti, miscere, et tantas audetis tollere moles?

Quos ego — (Vergil, Aeneid 1.135)

English example. “If my opponent had been at the moon launch, it would have been a risky rocket scheme. If he had been there when Edison was testing the lightbulb, it would have been a risky anti-candle scheme. And if he’d have been there when the internet was invented…” (George W. Bush, 2000 Republican National Convention)

apostrophe. The direct address of someone or something not present.

Latin example. sic fera Threicii ceciderunt agmina Rhesi et dominum capti deseruistis equi: (Amores 1.9.23-24)

English example. “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, / That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! / Thou art the ruins of the noblest man / That ever lived in the tide of times.” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 1); “O Captain, my Captain” (Walt Whitman)

asyndeton. The conspicuous lack of a conjunction.

Latin example. Vota tamen tetigere deos, tetigere parentes: (Met. 4.164, Pyramus and Thisbe)

English example. “But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.” (President Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address)

chiasmus. The arranging of words, phrases, or clauses in an A B B A format. ABBA

Latin example. innumeris tumidum Pythona sagittis. (Met. 1.460, Apollo and Daphne) ABBA

English examples. “These days, when you squeeze tthe pump, it’s more like the pump squeezes you” (Rob Corddry from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show)

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961)

ecphrasis. The verbal or literary description of an image or visual, usually nature or a work of art.

Latin example. cumque domo exierint, urbis quoque tecta relinquant, neve sit errandum lato spatiantibus arvo, conveniant ad busta Nini, lateantque sub umbra arboris (arbor ibi niveis uberrima pomis, ardua morus, erat, gelido contermina fonti). (Met. 4.86-90, Pyramus and Thisbe)

ornat quoque vestibus artus dat digitis gemmas, dat longa monilia collo, aure leves bacae, redimicula pectore pendent. Cucnta decent; nec nuda minus formosa videtur. (Met. 10.263-266, Daedalus and Icarus)

English example. Homer, Iliad 18.478-608, The Shield of Achilles; “Landscape With The Fall of Icarus” by poet William Carlos Williams; “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by poet John Keats

Discussion. Ecphrasis is an important figure for Ovid and figures prominently in his work because of his inter- est in the creative process and the role of the artist. Ovid will regularly (see the Pyramus and Thisbe example above) describe an idyllic natural scene only to destroy it with an act of extreme violence. The Pygmalion example above is intentionally ambiguous, and perhaps worth discussion. Is Ovid describing the statue as a work of art? Or is he describing it as the woman that Pygmalion envisions it as?

ellipsis. The omission of an easily understood syntactical element. (The bracketed words in the examples are not part of the text itself; their omission is the ellipsis.)

Latin example. hic portas frangit, at ille [frangit] fores. (Amores 1.9.20)

English example. And he to England shall [go] along with you. (Shakespeare, Hamlet 3.3.4)

enjambment. When a sentence or clause no longer aligns with the poetic structure. Or, when a sentence or clause begins at the end of a poetic line or ends at the beginning of a poetic line. (End-stopping or end-stopped lines are the opposite of enjambment, i.e. when a clause aligns with the poetic structure.)

Latin example. Arma gravi numero violentaque bella parabam edere, materia conveniente modis. (Amores 1.1.1-2)

English example. I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree. (Joyce Kilmer, “Trees”)

Discussion. Enjambment, unlike many of the figures here, is unique to poetry because it depends on the poetic structure for its existence. Enjambment renders poetry more conversational (we don’t pause at regular inter- vals when we speak) and is the reason why, when we read poetry, we don’t pause at the end of lines, but rather at the end of syntactical units. In the English example above, the meaning becomes very different if the reader pauses at the end of the first line. In the Latin example, it is unclear what the narrator is preparing until the first word of the second line, thereby creating suspense.

hendiadys. Two nouns joined by a conjunction that would otherwise be a noun – adjective pair or a noun – genitive pair.

Latin example. annis aevoque soluti (Met. 8.712, Baucis and Philemon); lux et veritas (motto of Yale Univer- sity)

English example. Law and Order (= the order of law; TV show); Love and Transformation (= the transforma- tion of love / that love brings, or a love of transformation; book title)

Discussion. A hendiadys lends equal emphasis to two concepts rather than, in the non-hendiadys version, one concept having a more prominent syntactical place. The effect can be simply one of emphasis or can introduce an element of ambiguity. The second English example above more likely means ‘the transformation that love brings’, but because the book is an Ovid book, the opposite reading becomes a more plausible reading than it might have otherwise been because of Ovid’s interest in metamorphosis, i.e. ‘the love of transformation’.

hyperbaton. A deliberate confusion of normal word order.

Latin example. oraque caerulea patrium clamantia nomen
excipiuntur aqua (Met. 8.229-230, Daedalus and Icarus)

English example. “A prophecy that misread, could have been.” (Yoda from the movie Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith; even for Yoda, a particularly confused sentence)

hyperbole. A deliberate and extreme exaggeration for emphasis or rhetorical effect.

Latin example. stravimus innumeris tumidum Pythona sagittis. (Met. 1.460, Apollo and Daphne)

English example. “My guest tonight: an actor who has starred in over 500 million films. His latest is Snakes on a Plane” (Jon Stewart, introducing an interview with Samuel Jackson on The Daily Show)

hysteron proteron. The reversal of the natural order of events.

Latin example. Quos petiere duces animos in milite forti (Amores 1.9.5)

Moriamur, et in media arma ruamus (Aeneid 2.353)

English example. to put on one’s shoes and socks; lock and load

irony. Implying the opposite of what one says to mock or deride.

Latin example. Me miserum, ne prona cadas indignave laedi crura notent sentes, et sim tibi causa doloris!

Aspera qua properas loca sunt. Moderatius, oro, curre fugamque inhibe; moderatius insequar ipse.

English example. Brutus is an honorable man. (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 3.2.10)

litotes. An understatement achieved by emphasizing something’s opposite.

Latin example. oraque tandem
ore suo non falsa premit; (Met. 10.291-292, Pygmalion)

non aliter quam cum… (Met. 4.122, Pyramus and Thisbe)

English example. “A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field” (George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”)

metaphor. A direct comparison between a narrative element and an element independent of the narrative for emphasis or clarification.

Latin example. non sum desultor amoris (Amores 1.3.15)

English example. “Why, this country is a shining city on a hill” (Mario Cuomo, 1984 Democratic National Convention)

metonymy. Identifying something by way of association or suggestion

Latin example. submissoque humiles intrarunt vertice postes (Met. 8.638, Baucis and Philemon)

suos cognovit amores (Met. 4.137, Pyramus and Thisbe)

English example. ‘City Hall’ for the government; the Italian ‘calcio’, meaning ‘kick’ for soccer;

“So we improved our schools dramatically for children of every accent, of every background.” (George W. Bush, 2000 Republican National Convention Acceptance Speech)

Discussion. Some overlap exists between metonymy and synecdoche, e.g. referring to someone as a ‘suit’ could be construed as a synecdoche because the suit is a part of its wearer, or as a metonymy because the ‘suit’ suggests the profession of its wearer. Some have suggested not distinguishing between the two.

onomatopoeia. When the sound of a word represents the meaning of the word.

Latin example. tutaeque per illud murmure blanditiae minimo transire solebant. (Met. 4.59-60, Pyramus and Thisbe)

Venit, ecce, recenti caede leaena boum spumantes oblita rictus (Met. 4.96-97, Pyramus and Thisbe)

English example. The moan of doves in immemorial elms And murmuring of innumerable bees (Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Princess”)

Also, common words like ‘bang’, ‘crash’, ‘moo’, etc.

oxymoron. An expression that apparently contradicts itself.

Latin example. et in vacuo pectore regnat Amor. (Amores 1.1.26)

English example. Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate! O any thing, of nothing first create! O heavy lightness! serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1.1)

Also common phrases like ‘friendly fire’, ‘virtual reality’, ‘freezer burn’, ‘jumbo shrimp’

personification. Imbuing an inanimate object with human qualities.

Latin example. ferrea cum vestris bella valete modis. (Amores 1.1.28)

English example. “Once again, the heart of America is heavy. The spirit of America weeps for a tragedy that denies the very meaning of our land.” (Lyndon Baines Johnson on the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., 4/5/68)

pleonasm. The use of excessive or syntactically unnecessary words; repetition of the same idea with different words.

Latin example. in rigidum parvo silicem discrimine versae (Met. 10.242, Pygmalion)

English example. “No one anywhere in the world can doubt the enduring resolve and boundless capacity of the American people.” (President Bill Clinton, State of the Union Address, 1/19/1999)

polyptoton. The use of two or more forms of the same word or root.

Latin example. omnia possideat, non possidet aera Minos. (Met. 8.187, Daedalus and Icarus); ars adeo latet arte sua (Met. 10.252, Pygmalion)

English example. “Do? Do? Hey I’m doing what I do. And I’ve always done what I do. I’m doing what I do. The way I’ve always done it. The way I’ll always do it.” (Kramer from Seinfeld “The Trip 2”, 8/18/92)

polysyndeton. The use of more conjunctions than necessary.

Latin example. oscula dat reddique putat loquiturque tenetque. (Met. 10.257, Pygmalion)

English example. “This nation is daring and decent and ready for change.” (George W. Bush, 2000 Republican Convention Acceptance Speech; “Somehow we have to find a common ground on which business and work- ers and environmentalists and farmers and government can stand together.” (Bill Clinton, State of the Union Speech, 1/19/99); “It’s more than a game. And regardless of what level it is played upon, it still demands those attributes of courage and stamina and coordinated efficiency and goes even beyond that….” (Vince Lombardi)

Discussion. Polysyndeton often conveys a sense of enthusiasm or energy, sometimes with an element of youth- fulness or naïvete. The extra conjunctions give the impression that the speaker is thinking too quickly to be able to foresee when the series will end.

praeteritio. Saying something by saying that it will not be said.

Latin example. Quid Thesea magnum quid memorem Alciden? (Aeneid 6.122-123)

English example. “I’m not going to tell you what they spent on that wedding, but $40,000 is a lot of money.” (Elliot Gould from the TV show Friends); “There’s a tradition in tournament play to not talk about the next step until you’ve climbed the one in front of you. I’m sure going to the State finals is beyond your wildest dreams, so let’s just keep it right there.” (Coach Norman Dale, played by Gene Hackman, in the movie Hoo- siers)

prolepsis. The introduction of a syntactical unit before it is appropriate, i.e. a word, phrase, or clause that cannot mean anything until some additional element is read after it.

Latin example. Quos petiere duces animos in milite forti,
hos petit in socio bella puella viro: (Amores I.9.5-6)

English example. “Whatever I give her, she’s going to be bringing in experts from all over the country to interpret the meaning behind it.” (Jerry Seinfeld from Seinfeld, “The Deal”, 5/2/1991)

prosopopoeia. When the words or actions of someone absent are introduced by the narrator.

Latin example. Hector ab Andromaches conplexibus ibat ad arma,
et galeam capiti quae daret, uxor erat; (Amores 1.9.35-36)

English example. “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” (Forrest Gump from the movie Forrest Gump)

Discussion. It is worth noting that the Latin example is both an allusion and prosopopoeia, while the English example, because it does not involve anyone famous, is only a prosopopoeia.

simile. An indirect comparison between a narrative element and an element independent of the narrative for emphasis or clarification. Latin similes will be often introduced by ut, velut, veluti, or qualis, while English similes will be introduced by ‘like’ or ‘as’.

Latin example. illa velut crimen taedas exosa (Met. 1.483, Apollo and Daphne)

ut Hymettia sole
cera remollescit tractataque pollice multas
flectitur in facies ipsoque fit utilis usu (Met. 10.284-286, Pygmalion)

English example. “She came up to me in the gym tonight; she looked at me like I was a leper” (Jake Ryan from the movie Sixteen Candles); “We have to put the board in a neutral place, where no one will tamper with it.” “So that’s here.” “Yes. Yes. You’re like Switzerland.” “I don’t want to be Switzerland.” (Kramer and Jerry Seinfeld from Seinfeld, “The Label Maker”, 1/19/95).

synchesis. The arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in an A B A B pattern. ABAB

Latin example. in rigidum parvo silicem discrimine versae. (Met. 10.242, Pygmalion)

English example. “We have seen a steady erosion of American power, and an unsteady exercise of American influence.” (George W. Bush, 2000 Republican Convention Acceptance Speech); “[The] Y2k computer bug will be remembered as the last headache of the 20th century, not the first crisis of the 21st.” (Bill Clinton, State of the Union Address, 1/19/99)

synecdoche. The use of a whole to represent the part or a part to represent the whole.
Latin example. modo vestra relinquite tecta (Met. 8.691, Baucis and Philemon); demisit in ilia ferrum (Met. 4.119, Pyramus and Thisbe)

English example. “Nice wheels”; “Nice threads”; “Hand me the phone” (the whole phone standing for the receiver which is really what will be handed); “To watch the tube” (i.e. the cathode ray tube that generates the picture of a TV); etc.

“He may be struggling with the leather, but he didn’t [sic] with the lumber” (SportsCenter, 7/22/06, on Yan- kees’ third-baseman Alex Rodriguez’s struggles in the field)

Discussion. [see the discussion on ‘metonymy’ above]

tmesis. The cutting or splitting of a word for the insertion of another word.

Latin example. succepitque ignem foliis, atque arida circum

English example. “Kanga-bloody-roo.” (Russel Crowe from an interview on The Daily Show); “Abso-bloo- min’-lutely” (from My Fair Lady)

transferred epithet. An adjective that agrees with a noun that it does not describe, or an adjec- tive that describes a noun with which it does not agree.

Latin example. inque patris blandis haerens cervice lacertis (Met. 1.485, Apollo and Daphne)

English example. FoodTV’s Jamie Oliver is known as the Naked Chef, also the title of his first and most prominent TV show. He, however, is hardly naked; rather his food is naked, or unadorned.

tricolon crescens. A group of three or more elements (usually nouns or clauses), the last of which is more complex than the previous.

Latin example. laudat digitosque manusque
bracchiaque et nudos media plus parte lacertos; (Met. 1.500-501, Apollo and Daphne)

English examples. “But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God….” (Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet Speech); “Single moms struggling to feed the kids and pay the rent. Immigrants starting a hard life in a new world. Children without fathers in neighborhoods where gangs seem like friendship, where drugs promise peace, and where sex sadly seems the closest thing to belonging.” (George W. Bush, 2000 Republican National Convention; one tricolon crescens within another)

zeugma. The use of a word (usually a verb) in a both a literal and figurative sense. Or the use of a word (usually a verb) in two senses, only one of which reflects common usage.

Latin example. iuvenemque oculis animoque requirit (Met. 4.129, Pyramus and Thisbe)

English examples. “One of my kids I put through college. The other I put through school.” (from the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School; line spoken by the character Lou, played by Burt Young). “I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world” (from President George W. Bush’s 2000 Republican Convention nomination acceptance speech). “I need to work out these feelings, and my deltoids.” (Jack from the TV show Will and Grace)