Latin/Stylistic Features of Latin Verse and Prose

Stylistic Features of Latin Verse and ProseEdit

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


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 1Edit

Caesar cum CiceroneCaesar, with Cicero
Veni,Vidi,ViciI came, I saw, I conquered
bellum bonumgood war


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 2Edit

magnae periculo opes

Analysis: The word 'periculo' separates the words 'magnae' and 'opes'.


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

Example 3Edit

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 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 4Edit

Claudiam laudoI praise Claudia.
Venio ad Marcum.I come to Marcus.


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 5Edit

non ignorareto not be ignorant of
As opposed to...
tenereto be knowledgeable of


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 6Edit

timeo, ne non pueri essent boni in scholaI dread that the boys are not good in school,
timeo ne non puellae essent bonae domiI dread that the girls are not good at home.

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


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


Veni,vidi,viciI came, I saw, I conquered

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


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 modestiaeEdit

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."