Figure Name enargia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Ad Herennium 4.39.51 ("descriptio"); Quintilian 9.2.40-44 ("hypotyposis"); Aquila 2 ; JG Smith (1665) ("diatyposis"); Garrett Epp (1994)("descriptio," "energia," "diatyposis," "demonstratio," "enargeia"); Peacham (1593); JG Smith (1665) ("hypotyposis"); Vinsauf (1967) ("description") ("descriptio") ("demonstratio"); Gibbons (1767) 276 ("hypotyposis"); Macbeth (1876) ("hypotyposis," "visible presentation"); Holmes (1806) ("hypotyposis"); De Mille (1882) ("description," "hypotyposis"); Bullinger (1898) ("hypotyposis; or, word-picture"); Johnson (1903) ("hypotyposis"); Norwood (1742) ("hypotyposis"); Vickers (1989) ("hypotyposis")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms diatyposis, hypotyposis, demonstratio, descriptio, enargeia, informatio, testamentum, description, word-picture, repraesentatio, adumbratio, phantasia, icon, imago, eicasia, hypotyposis
Etymology from Gk. enarges, "visible, palpable, manifest" hypotypoun "to sketch out" from hypo "under" and typoun "to impress" and this from typos "impression"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description. Enargia is the general term for employing description within rhetoric. Various kinds of description are also specified with individual terms. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Diatyposis, description or information of a thing: a figure whereby we having spoken of a thing in general, descend unto particulars, &c.; Diatyposis, Descriptio, Informatio, Description, information of a thing: derived from [diatypoo] describo, informo, to describe, inform, &c. A figure when a thing is so described by more words, that it may seem to be set, as it were, before our eyes; or, When we have spoken of a thing in general, descend unto particulars.(JG Smith)

3. Clear, lucid, and vivid description (especially of the potential consequences of some action). (Garrett Epp)

3. A description so vivid that the event seems to take place before our eyes. It often includes an account of what precedes, accompanies, and follows an action. (Garrett Epp)

4. Diatyposis is called in Latine Informatio & Testamentum: In Rhetorick it is a forme of speech, by which the speaker or Orator commendeth certaine profitable rules and precepts to his hearers and to the posterity. (Peacham)

2. Hypotyposis, Representation: a figure when a whole matter is expressed so particularly and in order, that it seems to be represented unto ocular inspection, etc.; Hypotyposis, Representatio, Representation is derived from [hypotypoo] repraesento per figuram d monstro, to represent, or by figure to deaneate, or draw the lively effigies of a thing. Hypotyposis is a representing of a thing unto the eye of the understanding, so that it may seem rather to be felt or enjoyed then spoken of and expressed. A figure when a whole matter is expressed so particularly, and in order, that it seems to be represented unto ocular inspection; or when the whole image and proposition of things is as it were painted out in words. (JG Smith)

5. Description, pregnant with words, follows as a seventh means of amplifying the work. But although the path of description is wide, let it also be wise, let it be both lengthy and lovely. See that the words with due ceremony are wedded to the subject. If description is to be the food and ample refreshment of the mind, avoid too curt a brevity as well as trite conventionality. Examples of description, accompanied by novel figures, will be varied, that eye and ear may roam amid a variety of subjects. (Vinsauf)

4. Descriptio is a generall name of many and sundry kindes of descriptions, and a description is when the Orator by a diligent gatherin together of circumstances, and by a fit and naturall application of them, doth expresse and set forth a thing so plainly and lively, that it seemeth rather painted in tables, then declared with words, and the mind of the hearer therby so drawen to an earnest and stedfast contemplation of the thing described, that he rather thinketh he seeth it then heareth it. By this exornation the Orator imitateth the cunning painter which doth not onely draw the true proportion of thines, but also bestoweth naturall colours in their proper places, whereby he compoundeth as it were complexion with substance and life with countenance: for hence it is, that by true proportion and due coloure, cunning and curious Images are made so like to the persons which they present, that they do not onely make a likely shew of life, but also by outward countenance of the inward spirite and affection.

So great and singular is that science, that there is no creature under heaven, no action, no passion, no frame in art, nor countenance in man, whose true proportion and externall forme is not finely counterfaited, and wonderfully imitated. Trees and plaints in their colours, flowers in their bewty, beastes & birdes in their natures, men in their countenances and habite, some grave, some smiling, some angry, some weeping, some yong, some old, some asleepe, some dead, also in their degrees, as Princes and subjects, magistrates and prisoners, riche men and beggers, men of artes and occupations, ladies, gentlewomen, maidens, old women, captains, souldiers, finally al kind of persons in their countenance, gesture and apparell: even so doth the Orator by his art and his speech describe and set forth to the contemplation of mans mind, any person, deede, thing, place or time, so truly by circumstance, that the hearer shall thinke that he doth plainly behold the matter described. Now under the generall name of Description, I do not only reckon speciall kindes of description, but also all other figures, which do chiefly respect circumstances and adjuncts without form of comparison serving onely to make matters evident and lightsome. (Peacham)

5. Figures of thought: There are other figures to adorn the meaning of the words. All of these I include in the following brief statement: when meaning is adorned, this is the standard procedure. ... ((4) descriptio) So, too, descriptio presents consequences, and the eventualities that can ensue from a given situation. It gives a full and lucid account with a certain dignity of presentation. ((19) Demonstratio) At another time the subject is revealed so vividly that it seems to be present to the eyes; this effect will be perfectly achieved by five means; if I show what precedes, what constitutes, and what follows the event itself, what circumstances attend it, and what consequences follow upon it. (Vinsauf)

6. "a Figure, by which we give such a distinct and lively representation of what we have occasion to describe, as furnishes our hearers with a particular, satisfactory, and complete knowledge of our subject." (Gibbons)

7. Hypotyposis, or Visible Presentation, is nearly allied to vision. Visible presentation is so to describe an object as to make it visible to the eye; it seizes on and points out those qualities of an act or object which we would see prominent if the act were done before us, or if we were gazing at the object. (Macbeth)

8. Hypotyposis to the eye contracts Things, places, persons, times, affections, acts. (Holmes)

9 a) 156. DESCRIPTION.
11. Sometimes in the midst of narrative or expository writing the attention is diverted for a time to a piece of description, in which some prominent subject is presented in a most impressive aspect. (De Mille)

9 b) 158. HYPOTYPOSIS.
13. Some kinds of description closely resemble vision, yet are to be distinguished from it. One of these is called "hypotyposis," and has been defined as the representation of things so fully expressed in words that it seems to be seen rather than heard. (De Mille)

10. Visible Representation of Objects of Actions by Words. (Bullinger, 467)

11. Hypotypo'sis.—This word signifies a vivid delineation, what is sometimes called "word painting." Some rhetoricians consider it one of the figures of rhetoric, but others hold that it is no more a figure
than reflection or narration. It is not necessary to determine this. In either case, hypofyposis is used for rhetorical efifect. To produce it, the author must have, first a subject that properly admits of it, then a happy choice of words, with short sentences and rapid movement. (Johnson, 125-126)

12. HYPOTYPOSIS. Hypotyposis, from the Greek (upotupoo,) to represent or describe to the life. This Figure presents the objects so very lively to the mind, that we are apt to fancy we hear, and see them continually, as if they were really presented to our very senses. (Norwood, 113)

13. Hypotyposis (or demonstratio, evidentia), vivid description appealing to the sense of sight. (Vickers 495)


3. ...in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards
And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls;
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds.... (H5 3.3 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

3. No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home,
But dust was thrown upon his sacred head;
Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off,
His face still combatting with tears and smiles .... (R2 5.1 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

4. An example of Salomon: “My sonne hearken unto my wisedome, and incline thine eare unto my prudence, that thou maist regard counsell, & thy lips observe knowledge, & c.” Prov.5.1.2. (Peacham)

4. Another: My sonne keepe thy fathers commandements, and forsake not the law of thy mother. After these presepts, he addeth the rules, and partes of his counsell: Joseph geveth instruction to his brothers what answere they should make to Pharoah. (Peacham)

2. Diatyposis:
If you desire that I make you a picture or lively description of the nature of Desire, I will tell you; It is a strange countrey, whereunto the Prodigal child sailed when he forsook his fathers house to undertake a banishment: a countrey where corn is still in grasse; vines in the bud; trees perpetually in blossome, and birds always in the shell; you neither see corn, fruit, nor any thing fully shaped, all is there only in expectation: A countrey where the Inhabitants are never without feavers, one is no sooner gone, but another comes into its place: here time looks on you afar off, and never comes neer you, but shews you an inchanted looking-glasse, wherein you see a thousand false colours, which amuse you. Here at best you have nothing to dinner but smoke and expectation. (JG Smith)

2. Hypotyposis:
There were hills which garnished their proud heights with trees, humble valleys whose low estate seem'd comforted with refreshing of silver rivers; medows enamel'd with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers; thickets, which being lined with most pleasant shade, were witnessed so to by the chearful disposition of many well tun'd birds; each pasture stored with sheep feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs, with bleating oratory, craved the dams comfort; Here a shepherds boy piping, as though he should never be old, there a young shepherdess knitting, and withal finging, and her hands kept time with her voices musick. A shew as it were of an accompaniable solitariness, and of a civil wildness.

It is a place which now humbling it self in fallowed plains, now proud in well husbanded hills, marries barren woods to cultivated valleys, and joyns neat gardens to delicious fountains, &c. (JG Smith)

5. ((4) descriptio) If vengeance sleeps, the guilty will range like a wolf crouched to spring, or a fox lurking in wait for the doe. (Vinsauf)

5. ((19) demonstratio (vivid demonstration) That the saviour of man had to be God and no other, the Son, not the Father or Holy Spirit, conclude from these few remarks. (- before the event) When the angelic choirs were created at heaven's birth, Lucifer, peerless in radiance, drew from the creator's radiance more light than others; therefore he grew presumptuous. ... (- after the event) That was the primal sin; but their second fault was more grievous: to be unwilling to repent their guilt and implore God's pardon by prayer. ... (- the attendant circumstances) Therefore the Son of God pondered: "Because Lucifer presumed against me, he fell and was lost. That fall of his was the root of this one. So I am, as it were, a remote cause of this plight: I shall be the cause of a kindred salvation." ... (- aspects of the event itself) Yet he attacked a being not his; condemning him, condemned by him, he condemned him to the death of the cross. ... (- its consequences) ... for his spirit robbed Tartarus of its due, and transformed the darkness of grief into raptures of light for his friends. (Vinsauf)

6. "Dr. Young, in his Paraphrase on part of the Book of Job, thus describes the peacock: 'How rich the peacock! What bright glories run / From plume to plume, and vary in the sun! / He proudly spreads them to the golden ray, / Gives all his colours, and adorns the day; / With conscious state the spacious round displays, / And slowly moves amid the waving blaze." (Gibbons)

7. Quintilian gives this illustration from Cicero:
"He came into the Senate-house; his eyes gleamed fire; from his whole countenance cruelty was flashing." (Macbeth)

8. The Head is sick; the Heart is faint; from the Sole of the Foot, even unto the Head, there is no Soundness; but Wounds, Bruises, and putrifying Sores. (Holmes)

10. (1) The blessings on the obedience of Israel (Deut. 28:1-14).
(2) The curses and the judgments (Deut. 28:15-45. Isa. 1:6-9; 34. Jer. 4:19-31). The greater part of Lamentations (esp., 4:4-8).
(3) The captivity and scattering of Israel (Deut. 28:49-68).
(4) The executioners of God's judgments (Isa. 5:26-30).
(5) The hollowness of mere religion, such as existed when Christ was on earth (Isa. 1:11-15).
(6) The folly of idolators and idols and idolatry (Isa. 44:9-17; 46:6,7).
(7) The sufferings of Christ (Ps. 22; lix. Isa. 53).
(8) The glory and triumph of Christ (Col. 2:14, 15, etc.).
(9) Certain similitudes: as when the blessings of Christ's coming are compared to the rising sun (Mal. 4:2), or a warrior (Rev. 19:11-16); or when God is compared to a wine-refreshed giant when He arises to avenge His people (Ps. 78:65, 66); or when the godly remnant of Israel is compared to a Bride (Ps. 45); or when the prosperity of the wicked is likened to a green bay-tree (Ps. 37:35); and that of the righteousness to the palm and the cedar (Ps. 92:12-14). (Bullinger, 468-469)

11. There is a good example in Campbell's Pleasures of Hope, extending through twenty-eight lines, of which the following will serve to illustrate the definition:

On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blool-dyed waters murmuring far below ;
The storm prevails, the rampart yields away.
Bursts the wild cry of horror and dismay.
Hark, as the smoldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call!
Earth shook, red meteors flashed along the sky.
And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry.

A finer example is seen in Byron's description of the battle of Waterloo (Childe Harold, Canto III, stanzas 21-28), which is too familiar to need quoting here. A shorter one is furnished in the third stanza of the fourth canto:

In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
And music meets not always now the ear.
Those days are gone, but beauty still is here.
States fall, arts fade, but Nature doth not die;
Nor yet forgot how Venice once was dear.
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of theearth, the masque of Italy.

A personal application of hypotyposis is in Shakespeare's Richard II, Act V, Scene 2:

Men's eyes
Did scowl on Richard; no man cried God save him!
No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home,
But dust was thrown upon his sacred head,
Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off
(His face still combating with tears and smiles
The badges of his grief and patience)
That had not God, for some strong purpose, steeled
The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted,
And barbarism itself have pitied him.

If one is to be what is called brilliant in conversation, he must be master of this figure, and must use it frequently. It was said of Clarence King, the geologist, that the objection to him was, that when he described a sunset it spoiled the original. (Johnson, 126-127)

12. Psal. 37. 35, 36. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree; yet he passed away, and le he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. This is a very lively character of the prosperous condition of the ungodly man, and of the most sudden ruin, and destruction of him: how does his image vanish away? How is his memory soon forgotten? Oh! how suddenly does he perish, and come to a fearful end? (Norwood, 113)

13. Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i'th' receiving earth . . .
--Shakespeare, Henry V, 1. Pro. 26 (Vickers 495)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures figures of description, ecphrasis, hypotyposis, diatyposis, figures of moderation, figures of amplification
Notes Related Topics of Invention: Subject and Adjuncts (Since description typically takes the form of delineating the attributes of something, it thereby employs this topic of invention, by which one identifies the characteristics (or adjuncts) of a given subject.); Division (Often description takes the form of dividing out and naming the parts of that which is described, and therefore this topic of invention is employed within descriptions.) don't know if Topics of Invention should be included at all, and if so, what format should be used?
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No