Latin/Stylistic Features of Latin Verse and Prose

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Stylistic Features of Latin Verse and Prose[edit | edit source]

This is a brief glossary of stylistic features often found in Latin especially in rhetoric and poetry.

Alliteration[edit | edit source]

Alliteration is a common poetic technique used in Latin from the earliest surviving fragments to the latest literary age. In alliteration there is a repetition of the initial consonantal letter.

Example 1[edit | edit source]

Latin English
Caesar cum Cicerone Caesar, with Cicero
Veni,Vidi,Vici I came, I saw, I conquered
bellum bonum good war

Hyperbaton[edit | edit source]

Hyperbaton is the arranging of words in a particular manner to produce an effect. Hyperbaton is used often in Latin literature because Latin syntax is far more flexible than English.

Example 2[edit | edit source]

Latin English
magnae periculo opes Karthago, ... danger because of great wealth/resources of Carthage, ...

Analysis: The word 'periculo' separates the words 'magnae' and 'opes' even if it should be used before magnae opes.

Hendiadys[edit | edit source]

Hendiadys is a rhetorical and poetic technique that uses the juxtaposition of two or more words with a similar meaning to reinforce an idea.

Parallelism[edit | edit source]

Parallelism is a stylistic device common in Latin in which two sentences have similar syntax.

Example 3[edit | edit source]

Latin English
Italia in Europa est. Italy is in Europe.
Marcus ad scholam currit. Marcus runs to school.

Analysis: In both sentences the nominative is placed first and the principal verb is last.

Chiasmus[edit | edit source]

Chiasmus is the reverse of parallelism, because syntactic structures are inverted. The name is from the Greek letter Chi which resembles an X and illustrates symmetrical crossing. A good example is the aphorism quod cibus est aliis, aliis est venenum, "What is food to some, to others is poison." The pattern is: noun, verb, pronoun; pronoun, verb, noun.

Example 4[edit | edit source]

Latin English
Claudiam laudo. I praise Claudia.
Venio ad Marcum. I come to Marcus.

Litotes[edit | edit source]

The negation of a verb instead of using an antonym is a poetical device known as litotes. Litotes is much weaker than simply using an antonym. Litotes is often used as underestimation.

Example 5[edit | edit source]

Latin English
non ignorare to not be ignorant of
As opposed to...
tenere         to be knowledgeable of

Anaphora[edit | edit source]

The rhetorical figure called anaphora is often used in conjunction with parallelism where the first word in the first sentence of a paragraph or stanza is repeated in the following sentences. It is sometimes used where the initial word in a sentence must be understood in the clauses or sentences that follow.

Example 6[edit | edit source]

Latin English
timeo ne non pueri essent boni in schola I dread that the boys are not good in school
timeo ne non puellae essent bonae domi I dread that the girls are not good at home

Analysis: timeo is repeated in the sentence, although not strictly necessary

Epistrophe[edit | edit source]

An epistrophe is a rhetorical device like anaphora except at the end of a sentence.

Asyndeton[edit | edit source]

Latin English
Veni,vidi,vici I came, I saw, I conquered

As you can see, an asyndeton is a multiple numeration without the "et (and)"

Polysyndeton[edit | edit source]

This is a numeration with et:

Veni et vidi et vici.

Polysyndeton is marked by the repeated use of the same conjunction ( or (neque...neque...neque). It is the direct opposite of asyndeton (listing with no conjunctions).

Pluralis modestiae[edit | edit source]

This is an advanced technique, often used in ancient fabulae, by Aesop and others.

It means that the Plural is used to show "modestia", for example

"officium magnum e nostro est."