Figure Name parallelism
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Macbeth (1876); De Mille (1882) ("parallel," "parallelism," "versification"); Bullinger (1898) ("parallelism; or, parallel lines")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms parallel, versification, parallel lines
Etymology None
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Parallelism demands separate mention, as a very important form of climax, of especial value in the history of language, of poesy, and of religious thought; owing to its being the favorite model into which the grand, inspired Hebrew poesy throws itself: a model intrinsically nobler than the arrangement, merely musical, according to feet, as among the Greeks and Romans, or according to rhyme, as with us and the modem European nations. To study parallelism, open the Psalms, the Proverbs, the lyrics of Isaiah; for example, at the opening of the first Psalm, with its three distichs, in which shape our Bibles should arrange such verses:
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly;
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornfu1." (Macbeth)

3. 86. PARALLEL.
This is similar to antithesis in form, but different in character; for while antithesis is the comparison of different things, parallel is the comparison of similar things. (De Mille)

The outward form of poetry has differed in different nations. The chief of these will now be enumerated.
1. Parallelism was the form of versification adopted by the Hebrews, and it is of high antiquity. It consists in the expression of a thought which is immediately repeated in modified terms. For this reason it has been called the rhyme of ideas. (De Mille)

4. The Repetition of similar, synonymous, or opposite Thoughts or Words in parallel or successive Lines... Parallelism is of seven kinds: three simple and four complex:-
1. Synonymous or Gradational.
2. Antithetic or Opposite.
3. Synthetic or Constructive.
1. Alternate. Two lines repeated only once (four lines in all).
2. Repeated Alternation. Two lines repeated more than once.
3. Extended Alternation. Three or more lines repeated.
4. Introverted. (Bullinger, 367-368)


1. parallelism of words:
She tried to make her pastry fluffy, sweet, and delicate. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. parallelism of phrases:
Singing a song or writing a poem is joyous. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. parallelism of clauses:
Perch are inexpensive; cod are cheap; trout are abundant; but salmon are best. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. First, an example from Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, pupil of TertuUian, and martyr:
"When the battle comes, for His name and honor, maintain in words that constancy which utters confession, in torture that confidence which joins battle j in death that patience which receives the crown." (Macbeth)

2. Then one from Tertullian:
" If thou placest a wrong in God's hand, He is the avenger; if a loss, He is the restorer; if pain, He is a physician j if death, He is the resurrection." (Macbeth)

3. "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle,
Who shall walk on they holy hill." (De Mille)

3. "The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the firmament sheweth his handiwork;
Day unto day uttereth speech,
And night unto night sheweth knowledge." (De Mille)

4. [ex. I. 1.] Gen. 4:23, 24.-In these oldest human poetic lines Lamech celebrates the invention of weapons of war: and it is significant that this should be the first subject of poetry! Lamech's son was "an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron," and the injury of others was the earliest application of the art. Lamech is so elated with that which would give him power among men that he at once breaks out in eulogy; and boasts that if any one injures him, he would outdo in Jehovah in His punishment of those who should injure Cain. There are three pairs of lines, and the synonymous words will be at once seen, as we have exhibited them:-
"Adah and Zillah earken to my voice;
Ye wives of Lamech listen to my speech.
For I can slay a man, if he injures me,
And a young man, if he hurts me.
If Cain shall be avenged seven-fold,
Truly Lamech [shall be avenged] seventy-seven-fold." (Bullinger, 368-369)

4. [ex. from I. 2.] This is when the words are contrased in the two or more lines, being opposed in sense the one to the other. Prov. 10:1.-
"A wise son maketh a glad father;
But a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."

4. [ex. from I. 3.] This is where the parallelism consists only in the similar form of construction:- Ps. 19:7-9. -
"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
The judgments of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether."
Here, there is neither gradation nor opposition of words in the several lines; which are independent, and depend for their parallelism on their construction. (Bullinger, 370)

4. [ex. from II. 1.] These alternate lines may be either synonymous or antithetic. Gen. 19:25.-
a "The cities (and He overthrew)
b The plain (and all the plain),
a The inhabitants of the cities,
b The produce of the plain." (Bullinger, 370-371)

4. [ex. from II. 2.] Isa. 65:21, 22.-
a1 "And they shall build houses,
b1 and inhabit them;
a2 And they shall plant vineyards,
b2 and eat the fruit of them.
a3 They shall not build,
b3 and another inhabit;
a4 They shall not plant,
b4 and another eat." (Bullinger, 375)

4. [ex. from II. 3.] Judges 10:17.-
a "Then the children of Ammon
b were gathered together,
c and encamped in Gilead.
a And the children of Israel
b assembled themselves together,
c and encamped in Mizpeh." (Bullinger, 376)

4. [ex. from II. 4.] Gen. 3:19.-
a End. "Till thou return unto the ground."
b Origin. "For out of it was thou taken."
b Origin. "For dust thou art."
a End. "And unto dust shalt thou return." (Bullinger, 377)

Kind Of Series
Part Of
Related Figures Figures of Parallelism, isocolon, tricolon, climax, antithesis
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No