Latin/Stylistic Features of Latin Verse and Prose

Stylistic Features of Latin Verse and Prose Edit

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

Alliteration Edit

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

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

Hyperbaton Edit

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

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

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

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

Example 3 Edit

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

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

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

Litotes Edit

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

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

Anaphora Edit

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

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

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

Asyndeton Edit

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

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

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."