Figure Name prosopopoeia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Garrett Epp (1994) ("conformatio," "prosopopoeia"); Aquil. 3 ("prosopopoeia," "personae confictio"); Peacham (1577) O3r ("prosopeia"); Putt. (1589) 246 ("prosopopeia," "the counterfait in personation"); Day 1599 90; JG Smith (1665) ("prosopopoeia"); Vinsauf (1967) ("conformatio"); Gibbons (1767) 329 ("prosopopeia"); Holmes (1806) ("prosopopoeia"); Demetrius (1902) 189; Blount (1653) 44; Norwood (1742) ("prosopopoeia"); Vickers (1989) ("prosopopoeia")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms prosopeia, conformatio, personae confictio, the counterfait in personation
Etymology from Gk. prosopon, "face," "person" and poiein, "to make"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. A synonym for the figure of speech personification (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. The progymnasmata exercise, impersonation. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Representing an absent person as speaking, or giving speech to that which has no speech. (Garrett Epp)

3. A feigning of the person: a figure when in our speech we feign another person speaking, &c.; PROSOPOPOEIA, fictio personae, the feigning of a person, derived from [prosopon] persona, a person, and [poieo] facio vel fingo, to make or feign. Prosopopoeia is the feigning of a person to speak, or the attributing of a person to the inanimate creatures; as, when we bring in persons that are dead, or the inanimate creatures speaking or hearing, &c. A figurative Exornation, when in our speech what thing soever which is not a person, is Metaphorically brought in and represended as a person; or when the properties of man are for similitude and agreeablenesse sake attributed unto other things; whence it is said that this form of speech animates and makes dead men speak; or it is, When in our speech we feign another person speaking. By this figure God, Angels and men, dead, or alive, the Heavens, Earth, Sea, &c. are brought in speaking, hearing, &c. (JG Smith)

4. Prosopopoeia, the faining of a person, that is, when to a thing sencelesse and dumbe we faine a fit person, or attribute a person to a commonwealth or multitude: This figure Orators do use as well as Poetes: the Orator by this figure maketh ye commonwealth to speake, to commend, to dispraise, to aske, to complaine, also life and death, vertue and pleasure, honesty and profite, wealth and poverty, envy and charity: to contend and plead one against another, and sometime he raiseth againe as it were the dead to life, and bringeth them forth complaining or witnessing what they knew. sometime to Cities, townes, beastes, birdes, trees, stones, weapons, fire, water, lights of the firmament, and such like things he attributeth speech, reason, and affection, and to no other end then to further his purpose and to confirme and make his cause evident, as for example: If an orator having occasion to commend some vertue to his hearers, as truth or such like, he may after he hath sufficiently praised truth, faine it a person, and bring it in bitterly complaining how cruelly she is oppressed and how litle esteemed, how often outfaced, and how much abhorred, how many be her enemies, how few her frends, how she wandreth hither and thither without intertainment, and remaineth without habitation, he may faine her complaing against false ballances, weightes and measures, against false testimonies, lies and perjurie, against wicked hipocrisie and cursed heresie, against feare, favour and avarice which are her enemies in the seats of judgement conspiring against her and violently throwing her downe from thence, and cruelly treading her underfoote, also he may cause her to accuse flatterie and detraction, theft, violence, and fraude, and to make a most true and long complaint, as well against persons that be her enemies, as against vices which do oppose and oppresse her. (Peacham)

5. There are other figures to adorn the meaning of words. All of these I include in the following brief treatment: when meaning is adorned, this is standard procedure. ... ((16) conformatio) Again, adorning the subject with a different kind of freshness, at one time I fashion a new person by giving the power of speech where nature has denied it. (Vinsauf)

6. "a Figure which consists in describing good and bad qualities of the mind, or the passions or appetites of human nature as real and distinct persons: in clothing with corporeal forms, or endowing with speech and action imaginary beings, or general notions and abstracted ideals; in introducing persons silent as speaking, or persons deceased as living; and in making rocks, woods, rivers, temples, and other inanimate beings assume the powers and properties, and express the emotions of living, and even reasonable creatures." (Gibbons)

7. Prosopopoeia a new person feigns, And to inanimates speech and reason deigns. (Holmes)

8. Prosopopoeia may be employed to produce energy of style. (Demetrius)

9. "to animate, and make dead men speak" (Blount)

10. PROSOPOPOEIA. Prosopopeia, sictio perfone, derived from the Greek, (prosopon, perfona, and poieo,) facio.
This Figure supposeth another person speaking our sense and meaning, and so we introduce him into our discourse. Sometimes also this Figure makes inanimate things to hear or speak, as if they werereal persons. (Norwood, 90)

11. Prosopopoeia (or confirmatio), representing an imaginary or absent person as speaking or acting; attributing life, speech or human qualities to dumb or inanimate objects. (Vickers 498)


2. All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, 'guilty, guilty.' (R3 5.3 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

3. Thus Sir Philip Sidney gives sense and speech to the needle and silk in Pamela's hands, and life, and speech unto Learning, and a Lilly; yea Death it self is feigned to live and make a speech. (JG Smith)

5. ((16) conformatio (personification)) When he suffered death, nature said: "I must needs suffer; my Lord is suffering. ..." Nature shuddered in lamentation and was rent apart wholly. All manner of things gave forth signs: heaven hiding her lights, the air growing dark, the sea roaring aloud, earth trembling, all the elements in tears. (Vinsauf)

6. "We have, if my judgment does not mislead me, a very beautiful train of Prosopopeias in Spenser's Fairy Queen, in which he represents Idleness, Gluttony, Lechery, Avarice, Envy, and Wrath, as so many Counsellors, riding upon six unequal beasts that draws the coach of Lucifera, or Pride." (Gibbons)

7. The very stones of the streets speak your wickedness. The mountains clap their hands, and the hills sing for joy. (Holmes)

8. 'Imagine that your ancestors, or Hellas, or your native land, assuming a woman's form, should address such and such reproaches to you.' (Demetrius)

9. "If your Ancestors were now alive, and saw your defacing so goodly a Monument by them erected, would they not say thus, &c." (Blount)

10. Prov. 8. 1. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? -- Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. Thus Solomon introduceth wisdom under the character of a person speaking and giving instructions, how they should practice, her kind admonitions. Some, though I think, erroneously, understand the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, under this representation of wisdom, who is called the (Logos). But ask now the beasts of the field, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: where holy Job adviseth his friends to go to the beasts and birds for better information; and even they should be able to tell them, that prosperity or afflictions were accidental to the pious, or to the ungodly man, and that no man ought to esteem any no wicked, from the sufferance of any calamity. (Norwood, 90-91)

11. Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act. I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar . . . Husband, I come!
--Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, 5.2.283 (Vickers 498)

Kind Of Identity
Part Of Metaphor
Related Figures personification, progymnasmata, impersonation
Notes Will require special treatment. -ark
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes Changed "Type" to Trope; perhaps "Part of" Metaphor -Nike
Reviewed No