Figure Name exergasia
Source Ad Herennium 4.42.54-55 ("expolitio"); Melanch. ER E1r-v ("expolicio"); Sherry (1550) 93 ("exergasia," "expolicion"); Peacham (1577) P4v ("expolitio) ;Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); JG Smith (1665) ("exergasia"); Garrett Epp (1994) ("expolitio"); Vinsauf (1967) ("repetition (interpretatio, expolitio)"); Peacham (1593); De Mille (1882) ("exergasia," "epexergasia"); Bullinger (1898) ("exergasia; or working out")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms exargasia, epexergasia, expolitio, expolicio, refining, working out
Etymology from Gk. ex, "out" and ergon, "work" (a "working out") or ergazomai "to work"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given. A method for amplification, variation, and explanation. As such, exergasia compares to the progymnasmata exercises. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Exergasia, a polishing or trimming: a figure when we abide still in one place, and yet seem to speak divers things. &c.; Exergasia, expolitio, repetitio, a polishing or trimming; derived from [exergazomai] repeto, effectum reddo, to repeat, to polish a thing after it is finished. A figure when we abide still in one place, and yet seem to speak divers things, many times repeating one sentence, but yet with other words, sentences and exornations. It differs (as M*lancthon saith) from Synonymia, forasmuch as that repeats a sentence, or thing, only with changed words: but this with like words, like sentences, and like things, having also many exornations to the garnishing of it. (JG Smith)

3. A dwelling on and refining of the same topic, by repeating it in a variety of ways, or by descanting upon it, varying words, treatment, and tone of delivery. (Garrett Epp)

4. If you choose an amplified form, proceed first of all by this step: although the meaning is one, let it not come content with one set of apparel. Let it vary its robes and assume different raiment. Let it take up again in other words what has already been said; let it reiterate, in a number of clauses, a single thought. Let one and the same thing be concealed under multiple forms - be varied and yet the same. (Vinsauf)

4. (Expolitio) 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 the standard procedure. ... ((7) expolitio) By turning a subject over repeatedly and varying the figure, I seem to be saying a number of things whereas I am actually dwelling on one thing, in order to give it a finer polish and impart a smooth finish by repeated applications of the file, one might say. This is done in two ways: either by saying the same thing with variations, or by elaborating upon the same thing. We may say the same thing with variations in three ways; we may elaborate upon the same thing with variations in seven ways. You may read about all of these at greater length in Cicero. (Vinsauf)

5. Expolitio, when we abide still in one place, and yet seeme to speake divese things, many times repeating one sentence but yet with other words, sentences, exornations, and figures: it differeth saith Malancton, from Smonunia, forasmuch as that repeateth a sentence or thing onely with changed words: but this both with like wordes, lik esentences, and like things, having also many exornations to the garnishing thereof. Cornificius teacheth that of this figure, there be two kindes, the one when we rehearse againe the verie same thing, but not after the same manner, for there is nothing more wearisome, and that may sooner bring satietie and irksomenesse to the hearer, then Tautologia, which is a wearisome repetition of all one word. But tarrying still in one place, we do varie one thing or sentence diverse maner of waies, and entreat of it with sundry fashions of speech. This first kind is three maner of waies waried.

The first by shift and chaunge of words, which is called Sinonimia, whereof hath bene said.

Secondly by altering of pronounciation, that is to say, when the Orator doth occupie or repeat the same wordes and sentences with a certaine alteration and chaunge of his voice and gesture. Sextus Roscius is convicted that he slew his father. Now this is said with a plaine pronunciation: Did Sextus Roscius slay his father? with an interrogation, which is full of marvelling: and likewise that which the Orator hath uttered in hot and vehement speech, he may repeat again with coole and quiet words.

Thirdly by alteration of the handling or entreating, as when the Orator conveyeth his speech either to Prosopopeia, Sermocinatio, Exusciatio, or to any other such like figure. Cicero when he had reckened up many mischievous deedes of Catiline, and many of his wicked doinges practiced against the commen wealth, and had accused him most greevously in the Senate, he commanded him to get out of the Citie, he changeth the handling of his sentence, and translateth his speech to Prosopopeia: whereby he faineth the country chiding with Catiline, and rehearseth in order all his ungracious, mischeevous, and unluckie deeds, enerprised against it, accusing him sore, and willing him to depart out of it. There hath saith he, no abhominable or wicked deede bene heard or seene these many yeares but through thee: no naughtie factes without thee: thou onely hast slaine many Citizens, and never yet punished: thou hast vexed and robbed thy fellowes, and nothing said unto thee: thou hast not only bene able to neglect lawes and statutes, but also to overthrow them and breake them in peeces, with much more following.

The second kinde of expolition is, when we speake one thing with many changes, which as some Authours do teach, consisteth of seven parts: and what these parts be, this example now following doth shewe. Whereby the Authour to Herenius teacheth verie plainly the whole reason of publishing, thus: A wise man will shunne no perill for the common wealth. Therefore as oft times it commeth to passe, that when he which will not die for the common wealth, doth of necessitie die with it. And because all commodities are received of the country, no discommoditie ought to be esteemed great or greevous for the country, wherefore they do unwisely which shun ye perill which must needs be bidden for the country: for neither can they avoyd the discommodities, and against their own Cittie they are found unthankfull. But they which with their own perill do willingly resist the perils of their country, are judged wise men, for that they both render that honour to the common wealth which they owe unto it, and had also rather die for many, than with many.

For it is a verie unreasonable thing to restore life received of nature, to nature when she compelleth, and not to give it to thy country when she craveth it: forasmuch as thou hast by thy countrey preserved it, and when thou maist with great vertue and honour die for thy ocuntry, to choose rather to live by dishonour and cowardnesse, and where as thou canst be content to put thy selfe in daunger for thy friends parents, and the rest of thy kinsfolk, to be unwilling to enter into danger for the common wealth, in which both this and that most reverende name of countrey is contained. Therefore as he is worthie to be contemned, which in failing had rather save himselfe then the shippe, so is he worthie to be balmed, which in jeopardie of the common wealth provideth more for his private safetie then for the common preservation. From a broken ship many have escaped from the shipwrack of the ocuntry no man can well escape: which me thinke Decius did well perceive, who as it is reported, bending himselfe to die for the safetie of his souldiers, ranne into the middest of his enemies, whereby he let his life go, but lost it not: for with a thing of smal value, he redeeme a thing of great price: he gave his life, he gained his countrey: he parted with his life, he obtained glory: which published with high praise, the elder it waxeth, the more & more it shall shine.

Now forasmuch as it is shewed by reason, and proved by example, that we ought to venture our lives for the common wealth, those men are to judged wise, which shun no perill for the safetie of their country.

Now albeit the Author hath given this example, yet an Orator is not alwaies so straitly bound, as to observe everie point hereof: but hath a larger libertie to use it, as it may seeme best unto him. (Peacham)

6 a) 91. EXERGASIA.
Exergasia is the employment in succession of different phrases conveying the same meaning:
"Who is to blame for this? Against whom shall the charge be brought? Whom shall we accuse of having committed it?" - CICERO

6 b) 154. EPEXERGASIA.
9. Sometimes a proposition is amplified by the superabundant accumulation of examples, illustrations, or proofs. (De Mille)

7. A Repetition, so as to work out or illustrate what has already been said... In this figure the same thought, idea, or subject is repeated in other words, and thus worked out and developed. It, therefore, resembles Synonymia; but differs from it in that not merely synonymous words are repeated, but synonymous expressions or sense. (Bullinger, 425)


1. No peril is so great that a wise man would think it ought to be avoided when the safety of the father land is at stake. When the lasting security of the state is in question, the man endowed with good principles will undoubtedly believe that in defence of the fortunes of the republic he ought to shun no crisis of life, and he will ever persist in the determination eagerly to enter, for the fatherland, any combat, however great the peril to life. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. In the following example, each of the three clauses repeats the same idea in different terms:
Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer... —Psalm 17:1 (Silva Rhetoricae)

3. To be, or not to be ... [etc.] (Hamlet 3.1 qtd. in Garrett Epp)
(This is also a common sermon technique; see, for instance Chaucer's Pardoner on gluttony, or his Parson's Tale in general. - Garrett Epp)

2. Thus to describe a beautiful woman, may be said, She hath a winning countenance, a pleasant eye, an amiable presence, a cheerful aspect. She was the object of his thoughts, the entertainment of his discourse, the contentment of his heart. Your beauty (sweet Lady) hath conquered my reason, subdued my will, mastered my judgement. (JG Smith)

4. ((7)Expolitio) Most excellent Father, avenger of crimes, extend your hand to destroy this evil. (- by verbal changes) The wisdom of the pope wishes to suppress what is wicked, and it is his duty to do so. Neither the task nor the will is alien to a prudent pope. (- by dialogue) As a good pope, ponder thus in your heart very often: "O how marvelous the virtue of God! How mighty his power! How great I now am! How insignificant I once was! ... And I desire to be so bound; and I will put down all he has ordered put down, I will raise what he ordered raised, solicitous for one thing alone: to will what he wills, to hate what he hates". (- by arousal (per exsuscitationem)) Who is so void of wit, so destitute of soul, so distracted, that he would not praise this work of a prudent nature? ((i) theme stated with reason added) So a prudent pope bases all his efforts on this, and because of this, that such great power has accrued to him for this end: to take away the sins of the world, to make the world clean, in order to lead it by the straight path to heaven. ((ii) theme re-stated with reason) Since God has raised him up for this work, it is his concern to accomplish the task allotted. ((iii) theme re-stated without reasons) Therefore if he is remiss in this, he is fountain and source of two wrongs: for he is his own enemy and the public enemy as well. ((iv) argument from the contrary) Is it better to injure the world by torpid sleep than to promote its interests by vigilant care? ((v) with a comparison) Take heed and remember: the pope like a good sheperd guards his fold from the jaws of the wolf; or, as a physician cures bodies, so he, as physician and sheperd, heals souls and their wounds. ((vi) with an exemplum) Our God, making all things whole, laid down his life for his sheep. ((vii) closing the argument) So it is evident, by force of both reason and example, that the sins of the world must be taken away. Suppress wickedness, then, holy Father, successor of Peter; and with his Simon let simony be brought to destruction. (Vinsauf)

6. "But, my lords, who is the man that has dared to associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage-to call into civilized alliance the wild and inhuman inhabitant of the woods-to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren?" -CHATHAM. (De Mille)

7. Ps. 17:1.-
"Hear the right, O LORD,
Attend unto my cry,
Give ear unto my prayer," (Bullinger, 426)

Kind Of Repetition
Part Of
Related Figures synonymia, auxesis, Figures of Repetition, Figures of Amplification, interpretatio, accumulatio
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No