Figure Name cataplexis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Peach (1593); De Mille (1882) ("menace"); Bullinger (1898) ("cataplexis; or, menace")
Earliest Source
Synonyms comminatio, menace
Etymology Gk. "a striking down, terrifying menace"
Type None
Linguistic Domain

1. Threatening or prophesying payback for ill doing. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Cataplexis in latine Comminatio, is a forme of speech, by which the Orator denounceth a threatening agasinst some person, people, citie, common wealth or country, conteining and declaring the certaintie or likelihood of plagues, or punishments to fall uppon them for their wickednesse, impietie, insolencie, and generall iniquitie. (Peacham)

3. Menace-cataplexis:
"Back to they punishment,
False fugitive, and to they speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
They lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before." (De Mille)

4. An Expression of Feeling by way of Menace... This figure is used where the speaker or writer employs the language of menace. (Bullinger, 911)


1. In the following quote from The Tempest, Caliban's curse is rewarded with a threatening prophecy, or cataplexis, from Prospero:

As wicked-dew as e'er my mother brush'd
With raven's feather from unwholesome fen
Drop on you both! A south-west blow on ye,
And blister you all o'er!
For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have cramps,
Side-stitches, that shall pen thy breath up; urchins
Shall, for that vast of night that they may work,
All exercise on thee; thou shalt be pinch'd
As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging
Than bees that made 'em.
—Shakespeare, The Tempest 1.2.321-329 (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Examples hereof are most plentifull in the holie Prophets agaynst Nations and Citties, but most chieflie agaynst Jerusalem, agaynste Baball, againste Damascus, Aegypt, the Philistines and Moabites, with many other moe. (Peacham)

2. Another example is to be seen, Mat. 23.37.38. And another in Jonas. 3. Yet fortie daies, and Ninivy shall be destroyed. (Peacham)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures figures of pathos, figures of exclamation
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No