Figure Name metabasis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Garrett Epp (1994) ("transitio," "metabasis"); Ad Herennium ("transition") (317-318);Ad Herennium 4.26.35 ("transitio"); Melanch. IR d3r ("transitio" "metabasis"); Sherry (1550) 59 ("metabasis," "transicio," "transicion"); Peacham (1577) T1v; Smith 237-40 ("metabasis," "transitio"); JG Smith (1665) ("metabasis"); Vinsauf (1967) ("transitio"); Peacham (1593); De Mille (1882)("elegant transition," "formal transition," "transitions"; Bullinger (1898) ("metabasis; or, transition")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms transitio, transicio, transition, transitions, elegant transition, formal transition, interfactio
Etymology from Gk. metabaio, "to pass over"
Type Chroma
Linguistic Domain Syntactic

1. A transitional statement in which one explains what has been and what will be said. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A brief recalling of what has been said, and an introduction to what is to follow. (Garrett Epp)

3. Transition is the name given to the figure
which briefly recalls what has been said, and likewise bricHy sets forth what is to follow next (Ad Herennium)

4. Transition: a figure when we are briefly put in mind of what hath been said, and what remains further to be spoken, &c.; Metabasis, Transitio, Transition, or a passing over from one thing to another: derived from [metabaino] transeo, to passe over from one thing to another. A figure whereby the parts of an oration or speech are knit together: and is, When we are briefly put in mind of what hath been said, and what remains further to be spoken. This Exornation conduces to eloquence and attention; to the understanding and remembrance of the things handled in a speech. The first part of this figure hath respect unto the precedent; the later part makes way for, or prepares the Reader unto the following matter. (JG Smith)

5. If a mode of expression both easy and adorned is desired, set aside all the techniques of the dignified style and have recourse to means that are simple, but of a simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness. Here are the rhetorical colours with which to adorn your style: (Vinsauf)

6. Metabasis, is a forme of speech by which the Orator in a few words sheweth what hath been alreadie said, and also what shalbe said next, and that diverse waies. (Peacham)

7 a) 287. TRANSITIONS.
The same care must be exercised in the introduction of the various divisions of arguments, and the writer must study the best way by which the attention of the reader may be transferred from the conclusion of one topic to the beginning of another. The is called transition. (De Mille)

The transition may be considered as of two kinds: first, the formal and secondly, the elegant.
The formal transition is characterized by the employment of certain words or forms of speech by which it is directly announced. (De Mille)

In the elegant transition, on the contrary, such formal statements are carefully avoided, and the writer seeks to transfer the attention of the read to a fresh topic in such a manner that there shall be no abruptness, but that the new one shall seem to grow out of the old. (De Mille)

8. A passing from one subject to another... The figure is used when the speaker or writer passes from one thing to another by reminding his hearers or readers of what has been said, and only hinting at what might be said, or remains to be said. (Bullinger, 891)


1. You have heard how the proposed plan will fail; now consider how an alternative might succeed. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. And remember well,

I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel

I now name to you, and with speed so pace

To speak of Perdita .... (WT 4.1 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

3. " You know how he has just been conducting himself towards his fatherland ; now consider what kind of son he has been to his parents." (Ad Herennium)

3. " My benefactions to this defendant you know ; now learn how he has requited me." (Ad Herennium)

5. You see that he could do this; in the sequel you will hear why this was not his will. (Vinsauf)

6. From the equall: The matters which you have alreadie heard, were wonderfull, and those that you shall heare, are no lesse marvellous. (Peacham)

6. From the unequall: I have declared unto you many of his commendable deserts, yet wil I tell you of many mo, and farre more excellent. (Peacham)

6. From the like: I have hitherto made mention of his n oble enterprises in France, and now I will rehearse his worthie actes done neare to Rome. (Peacham)

6. From the contrary thus: As I have spoken of his great adversitie and miserie, so will I now speake of his happy prosperitie, which at length ensued, as the bright day doth the darke night, and warme sommer cold winter. (Peacham)

6. By prevention or occupation: Peradventure you think me long in the threatenings of the law, I will now passe to the sweet promises of the Gospell. (Peacham)

6. By reprehention: I have staied too long in lamentable matters, I wil now make mention of some pleasant reports. (Peacham)

6. From consequents: You have bene tolde how he promised, and now I will tell you how he performed: you have heard how greevously those cities offended, and it resteth now to heare how justly they were punished. (Peacham)

8. 1 Cor. 11:16, 17. -In verse 16, Paul only hints at the contentions of others; and then passes on, in verse 17 to the subject of the Lord's Supper. (Bullinger, 891)

Kind Of Symmetry
Part Of
Related Figures epexegesis, figures of amplification
Notes Smith sets forth eight kinds of metabasis, categorized according to the sort of relationship being announced between the preceding and subsequent matter: 1. Equal The matters you have heard were wonderful, and those that you shall hear are no less marvelous. 2. Unequal You have heard very grievous things, but you shall year more grievous. 3. Like I have spoken of his notable enterpises in France, and now I will rehearse his worthy acts done in England. 4. Contrary As I have spoken of his sad adversity and misery, so will I now speak of his happy prosperity. 5. Differing I have spoken of manners; now it remains that I speak concerning doctrine. 6. Anticipating Objection You may think me too long in the threatenings of the law; I will now pass to the sweet promises of the gospel. 7. Reprehension Why do I dewll on these things? I shall hasten my speech unto that which is the prinicpal point of the matter in question. 8. Consequents You have heard how he promised, and now I will tell you how he performed. (Silva Rhetoricae) The above eight-fold description of metabasis from SR appears in JG Smith's text. A separate Wiki article may include the original JG Smith passage. -[nike]
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No