For each of the following literary terms write a brief description or definition, followed by an example, in Latin, from the prescribed sections of the text. Click on the word to reveal a definition and an example from Cicero Verrine 2.1. Click on the word again for the information to be hidden.

a c e f g h i n o p r s t w z


the addition of seemingly superfluous words for reasons of elegance or cogency:
statuerat ac deliberaverat -
"had made a definite and deliberate decision" (1)


repetition of consonantal sound, often linked with assonance. Cicero very fond of both.:
pecuniam plurimam posse -
"money rules supreme" (6)


use of succession of striking terms - strong word followed by still stronger one. Sentence builds up to a climax:
non enim furem sed ereptorem, non adulterum sed expugnantorem pudicitiae, non sacrilegum sed hostem sacrorum religionumque, non sicarium sed crudelissimum carnificem civium sociorumque..
"not a thief but a plunderer..." (9)


a structural inconsistency that leaves the construction with which the sentence begins grammatically incomplete: eg change of subject may occur mid-way:
homo scilicet ....... factus est.
"He was a man, I suppose......... free of charge. " (101)


use of the same word to begin a succession of clauses. Thought to add grace, majesty and vigour; provided ornamentation and amplification. Often used in summarising periods:
cum haec omnia...cum illum. .......cumque Dolabella.... haec cum... (74)


the anticipation of an opponent's argument. Also known as praesumptio:
Malus civis, improbus consul, seditiosus homo Cn Carbo fuit.
"But Cn carbo was a disloyal citizen..." (37)


a Gorgianic figure; neat, verbal contrast, often expressed in exactly parallel phrases:
ut vehementius odio libidinis tuae quam legationis metu moverentur.
".. the point where they were more powerfully influenced by loathing for your licentiousness than by the awe in which they held the office of legate." (8)


a direct address, often accompanied by rhetorical question and exclamatio:
Apollinemne tu Delium spoliare ausus es?
"Did you dare despoil Apollo of Delos?" (47)


the development of arguments to make a point:
Expertus igitur es istius perfidiam tum cum ipse se ad inimicos tuos contulit.... te referre noluit.
"Well, then, you experienced his treachury when he betook himself to your enemies.. and proved unwilling... " (77)


like alliteration, the repetition of sounds for the purpose of euphony:
sine labore, sine molestia, sine impensa, etiam sine patrono...
" without toil or trouble or expense or even the services of an advocate." (119)


a series of clauses, piled up without connectives. Creates intensity, vigour and rapidity suited to narration. :
... immittentur homines, expugnabuntur domus, civitates .. ad arma confugient?
" ... are men to be dispatched, houses stormed, states... to take refuge in armed force...?"


an arrangement of contrasting pairs of phrases, in reverse order, so that the words denoting the promary contrast are juxtaposed;
flebat uterque non de suo supplicio, sed pater de filii morte, de patris filius. "each wept, not for his own punishment, but the father for the death of the son, the son for the death of his father." (76)
vehementius odio libidinis tuae quam legationis metur moverentur.
"they were more powerfully influenced by loathing for your licentiousness than by the awe in which they held the office of legate." (81)


the ending of a sentence. Cicero particularly fond of rhythmic pattern of cretic and trochee (-u-)(-u):
esse damnatos (71)


like repetitio, the practice of lingering over a point and repeatedly returning to it in order to implant one, overriding consideration in the listener's mind:
haec me pluribus verbis, iudices, vobiscum agere coegit non timor meus ....sed...
"It is not my fear....which has compelled me to discuss these issues in rather many words, but..... " (23)


the drawing of comparisons between situations, e.g. the citing of a lesser form of a crime to heighten the gravity of the form in question:
non dicam illinc hoc signum ablatum esse et illud: hoc dico, nullum te Aspendi signum, Verres, reliquisse...
"I am not going to say this or that statue was removed from there: I say that you, Verres, left not one statue in Aspendus...." (53)


tthe piling up of words of related or similar meaning, to enhance or augment the force of language:
hora nulla vacua a furto, scelere, crudelitate, flagitio reperietur.
"We will find that not a single hour was free from robbery, criminality, cruelty and wickedness." (34)


conjectural proof, usually based on motive, or intention (causa or animus) and character or way of life ( persona or vita) (sc. 79)


when a verb is supplied from a preceding or following clause


sudden switch from direct statement to exclamation, to accentuate astonishment or surprise or indignation etc.
Posteaquam.... O di immortales, quanta iste cupiditate, quibus adlegationibus illam sibi legationem expugnavit!
""After.... good heavens! with what covetous passion, with what missions of supplication he extorted that commission as legate!" (44)


use of historical parallels, to drive home a point by the similarity, or contrast offered by the example. It is similar to comparatio and much favoured by Cicero:
Quid ego de M. Marcello loquar... quid de L. Scipione?.... Quorum domus.....signis et tabulis pictis erant vacuae....
"What need is there to speak of M. marcellus, ... or L. Scipio.... whose houses..... were empty of statues and paintings." (54-55)


the refining of a general statement by presenting it in different guises. The same point expressed from different angles - a favourite preliminary exercise of the rhetorical schools:
quod de re publica sensit, ita sensit ut nec fidem suam nec morem maiorum nec necessitudinem sortis laederet...... instituta maiorum.
"His political opinions he maintained in a such a way as to avoid infringing his own good faith or the practice of our ancestors or the obligation imposed by the lot ....... no authority." (37-38)


the gathering of the various elements of an argument into a compelling resume:
nunc cum ipse... (71-72)


a form of doubling of words to satisfy the needs of rhythm and please the ear. Akin to redundancy:
sermonem vulgi atque hanc opinionem populi Romani...
"... the common talk and belief of the Roman people..." (1)

grand style

a manner of speaking which attempts to sway the mind and stir the emotions, by use of solemn or impassioned language, liberal use of apostrophe and rhetorical question, periodic sentence structure, exempla from mythology and history, and devices such as prosopopoeia (impersonation, e.g. summoning witnesses from the dead to speak)


use of two nouns joined by a conjunction to express a single idea whose sense is more naturally represented by making one of the nouns dependent or converting it to an adjective:
flamma periculaque
"perilous blaze" (70)


Gorgianic figure which helps achieve a kind of rhythm through use of succession of like ending words. A form of amplification:
si me non omnes noti ignotique monuissent id agi, id cogitari, in eo elaborari....
"If everyone, friend and foe alike, had not warned me action was being taken, plans were being made, every effort was being strained to...." (31)
Tune quod videris, quod audieris, quod concupieris, quod cogitaris...
"If everything you see, hear, crave and conceive...." (78)


the wide separation of closely related words, sometimes used to give a smoother, more elegant word order, sometimes to give emphasis to the words placed between the related elements:
postea Servilius imperator populi Romani Olympum urbem hostium cepit quam tu .....
" for Servilius, as general ofthe Roman people, captured Olympus, a hostile city, in the period since you..." (56)


exaggeration created by vigorous use of e.g. anaphora, asyndeton, homeoteleuton etc (e.g. 78)


a tone of indignation, typical of rhetorical decoration, used to heighten the emotional effect of a speech. often found with obiurgatio (reprimand):
Apollinemne tu Delium spoliare ausus es?
"Did you dare despoil Apollo of Delos?" (47)


or dissimulatio, described by Cicero as a most effective means of penetrating people's minds. Mocking in tone, one face of Cicero's famed wit:
Erat comes eius Rubirius quidam, homo factus ad istius libidines, qui miro artificio... haec investigare omnia solebat, Rubrium, delicias suas..
"Among his aides was a certain Rubrius, an ideal instrument of Verres' lust, who was in the habit ...of investigating all these matters with wondrous skill. Rubrius, his precious favourite..." (64)


Gorgianic figure of exact symmetry, often used with antithesis and homeoteleuton to achieve rhythmic sentence structure.


lends emphasis to a point by means of understatement.
Respondit illa ut meretrix non inhumaniter
"She replied in a manner that, for a prostitute, was not ungracious." (138)


plain narrative style, direct, with economy of language, staccato style of sentence structure. Used in narrative and explanatory passages, lacking the embellishment and intricacy he employs in more emotional contexts.
(62-69; 72-76 - the episode at Lampsacum, one of the finest examples in Cicero)


tone of reprimand, often linked with iracundia (indignation), used to heighten emotional effect.
Non dubito quin, tametsi nullus in te sensus humanitas, nulla ratio umquam fuit religionis...
"I have no doubt, though you have no spark of humanity in you and never had any religious convictions.." (47)


states a resolve to avoid mentioning something while doing precisely that. (Also known as antiphrasis or occultatio) Considered useful as a mode of inuendo when lengthier discussion might prove embarrassing, or the matters alluded to were unfounded or unclear. Frequently used by Cicero, despite its contrived character.
quid ego adventus istius prandia, cenas, equos muneraque commemorem?
"I see no reason to recount the lunches, dinners, horses, and presents that attended his arrival." (49)


form of balance, commonly used by Cicero when he is presenting contrasting or opposing ideas, though usually falls short of isocolon.
In quo video Neronis iudicio non te absolutum esse improbitas, sed illos damnatos esse caedis.
"This judgement of Nero does not signify to me that you were acquitted of wrongdoing, but that they were convicted of murder." (72) (combines antithesis and isocolon)


an interruption of the thought, but which heightens anticipation, or scores a point arising from, but not directly relevant to, the subject in hand.
(metuo ne quid adrogantius apud tales viros videar dicere)
"(here I fear I may seem to be speaking somwhat arrogantly before men such as you) (10)


Est idem Verres qui fuit semper, ut ad audendum proiectus, sic paratus ad audiendum.
"He is the same Verres as he ever was, as prepared to hear anything as prone to dare anything." (nb chiasmus) (2)
... illum Aspendium... quem omnia "intus canere" dicebant, sustulit et intimis suis aedibus posuit, ut etiam illum ipsum suo artificio superasse videatur.
".. that Aspendus, of whom they used to say "he played all his music inside", he carried away and placed deep inside his house so that he might seem to have surpassed the lyre-player himself at his craft." (53)


method of moving an audience by appeal to the emotions, considered by Cicero to be the greatest gift of eleoquence, one of three main modes of persuasion (with probatio (rational proof) and ethos (presentation of character to win credibility and goodwill)) (76 passim)

periodic sentence

a highly complex sentence, typically containing many clauses smoothly interwoven by a system of hypotaxis or subordination, that leads the reader through a series of ancillary statements that qualify or elucidate it. Contrasts with more direct narratio:
Romam ut ex Sicilia redii....venimus
"When I returned from Sicily to Rome...." (17)
An quia tum.... arbitrarere?
"Or did you think that.... " (88)


a form of argument that pretends to leave certain things to the judgement of the hearers. A mode of persuasion by implication and suggestion, when detailed argument might prove tedious (cf paralipsis)
quo modo....vos existimabitis.. (92)

plain style

direct, plain, economical language, staccato style of sentence structure, typical of narrative and explanatory passages:
(34, 125)


the presentation of rational proof - oner of three main modes of persuasion identified in ancient rhetorical theory ( with pathos -an appeal to the emotions and ethos - presentation of character to win credibility and goodwill).


"summoning up from the dead" - a device of impersonation associated with the grand style, where the speakers and speeches were wholly imaginary, and whose chief function is "the disclosure of the inner thoughts of our adversaries, as if they were talking to themselves"; highly regarded by Cicero as a tool of persuasion:
ipsum (i.e. Malleolus) putabo adesse
(94, 103, 142)
cf. geminatio, adiectio


takes many forms and is very common in Cicero: e.g. repetition of an idea; often expressed in a doubling of words or phrases (geminatio) to satisfy the needs of rhythm and to please the ear.


with commoratio and anaphora - designed to implant one overriding consideration in the listener's mind by lingering over it and repeatedly returning to it:

rhetorical question

interrogatio or percontatio - used to increase the vigour of an argument, press home a fact with greater emphasis, arouse pity, embarrass an oponent, express astonishment or indignation:
(9,47,62 etc)


simulated dialogue; a livelier means that indirect statement or raising and refuting a possible criticism or objection; cf. prosopopoeia

sibi ipsi responsio

answering one's own question, or reasoning by question and answer:

sub oculos subiectio

vivid description, not just recounting events but actually showing them before the eyes of the mind (also described as evidentia, repraesentatio or demonstratio)
(75, 133)


one of Cicero's favourite modes of ornamentation: divorcing an issue from a particular person and particular circumstances and discussing its universal implications:
(37, 153)


metaphor; Cicero uses it sparingly, though he considered it a most appealing figure that added colour and brilliance. he liked especially single-word metaphors, but warned that they should be introduced "demurely", even "apologetically":
unam ex decem....non vi tempestatis sed hac horribili tepestate sociorum amissam...


the structural device that grouped words, phrases or clauses in threes. Considered a highly pleasing literary figure, common throughout Latin literature. Ideally each member of the triad should be longer than the preceding or the third one should be longer than the rest, embracing the others. The thought should rise in force, building to a climax:
hortatur hospes,....poscunt, celebratur.... convivium.


mocking tone, use of ridicule, barbed witticism for which Cicero had high reputation. The amusement of the audience at the expense of one's opponent, considered by Cicero to be a most important aspect of the art of persuasion:
Quis umquam crederet...


a form of condensed expression, where a word is used to govern two words but is strictly only appropriate to one of them:

home top

a c e f g h i n o p r s t w z















back to resources page