Figure Name parecbasis
Source Quintilian 4.3 ("parecbasis, egressus, egressio"), 9.1.28 ("egressio"); Putt. (1589) 240 ("parecnasis," "stragler"); Day 1599 100 ("pareonasis," "digressio"); Silva Rhetoricae (; JG Smith (1665) ("parecbasis"); Vinsauf (1967) ("digression"); Peacham (1593); De Mille (1882) ("digression"); Bullinger (1898) ("parecbasis; or, digression")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms parecnasis, pareonasis, digressio, egressus, egressio, the stragler, figure of digression, digression, parabasis, ecbole, aphodos
Etymology From Gk. parecbaino, to go from the purpose
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. A digression. More specifically, a digression that often comes following the narratio and has some bearing on the case, although it appears to be a departure from the logical order. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Digression, or Excursion: a figure whereby something beyond the purpose or intended matter, goes out from the appointed discourse.; PARECBASIS, Digressio, Digression, excursion, or a going from a matter in hand to speak of another thing: derived from [parecbaino] digredior, to digress or goe from the purpose. Digression is as it were a wandering from the purpose or intended matter. It is the handling of some matter going out from order, but yet upon sufficient ground, and for the advantage and illustration of the cause or matter we have in hand. Digression is a figure when something is added beside or beyond the purpose or intended matter, and goes out from the appointed discourse. Note that digression ought in some respect to be agreeable, and pertinent to those matters which we have in hand, and not to be strange or remote from the purpose: and that by the abuses of this Exornation, namely, by going forth abruptly, by tarrying too long abroad, and returning in unto the matter overthwartly, we shall in stead of adorning and garnishing our cause or speech, darken our main cause or principal matter, and deform the Oration. (JG Smith)

3. If it is desirable to amplify the treatise yet more fully, go outside the bounds of the subject and withdraw from it a little; let the pen digress, but not so widely that it will be difficult to find the way back. This technique demands a talent marked by restraint, lest the bypath be longer than decorum allows. A kind of digression is made when I turn aside from the material at hand, bringing in first what is actually remote and altering the natural order. For sometimes, as I advance along the way, I leave the middle of the road, and with a kind of leap I fly off to the side, as it were; then I return to the point whence I had digressed. (Vinsauf)

4. Digressio is the handling of some matter going out from order, but yet for profit of some pertinent cause, we may digresse for the cause of praising, dispraising, delighting or preparing. Digressons are taken either from the declaration of deeds, the descriptions of persons, places and times, the reporting of Apollogies and similltudes, & likewise from common places. (Peacham)

Digression is a departure from the immediate subject for the consideration of something else. It bears the same relation to the whole work which the parenthesis bears to the sentence, and, like the parenthesis, it has its use and its abuse.
The proper use of digression may be stated thus:
First. It is used to introduce a necessary explanation.
Secondly. It is used to give additional emphasis to previous statements.
There are two chief classes of digression - first, narrative or descriptive, which consists of anecdotes for illustration, or other similar passages; secondly, the discussion of some point which stands inc lose relation to the subject. (De Mille)

4. Digression is often useful. This has already been sufficiently illustrated. Sometimes it is made not so much for itself as for the purpose of coming back with renewed force; and this is so frequently done that it was formerly set down as a figure of speech under the name of "reditus," or "retrogressio." (De Mille)

6. A temporary Turning Aside from one Subject to another... A figure by which the speaker or writer steps from beside his subject, and makes a digression, changing his subject-matter, and adding something beyond the scope of his subject, though necessary to it. Sometimes this digression is mentioned, and a promise given to return to it again. (Bullinger, 889)


?. Cicero, in his Defense of the poet Archias, demonstrates the rhetorical effectiveness of the digression. There, in a suit whose issue was the Roman citizenship of an individual, he provides a long discussion on the virtues of literature and their cultural value. This both diverts attention from the issue at hand (whether Archias was indeed a Roman or whether he should be expelled) and leads effectively back to it: to the extent that Cicero prompts his hearers to value literature, they will be inclined to sympathize with someone who professes literature (and has written positively for the Roman republic). Cicero's digression succeeded, and it is presumed his suit for Archias was won.(?)

5. The following is an example of the use of digression of the narrative kind, which also serves to illustrate the subject:
"The hasty multitude
Admiring entered, and the work some praise
And some the architect; his hand was known
In heaven by many a towered structure high.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nor was his name unheard or unadored
In ancient Greece; and in the Ausonian land
Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell
From heaven they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropped from the zenith like a falling star
On Lemnos, the Aegean isle; thus they relate
Erring." - MILTON
The architect of Pandemonium is thus ingeniously identified with Vulcan, and the narration of the classical myth presents the mind with a familiar subject, and gives greater distinctness to the poet's conception. (De Mille)

6. The following is an example of the second class of digression, which discusses some theme in close connection with the subject. This serves to give additional emphasis to what has been said:
"Hail, holy light! offspring of heaven first-born,
Or of the eternal co-eternal beam.
* * * * thee I revist safe,
And feel thy sov'ran vitalness; but thou
Revisitest not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find they piercing ray, and find no dawn-
So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs
Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of scred song.
* * * * Thus with the yera
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flock, or herds, or human face diving;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me." - MILTON
The poet begins with an invocation to light, after which he makes a digression, in which he alludes to his own personal condition and feeling, in language full of pathetic beauty; and by the contrast between his own melancholy darkness and the joy of heavenly light, he gives to his subject a greater emphasis than it had gained even from the sublime opening description. (De Mille)

6. Rom. 1 -The opening verses of this Epistle form a beautiful Parecbasis. It is caused by the structure of the Epistle: in whcih 1:2-6 has for its subject "God's Gospel," which was never hidden, but was always revealed (corresponding with 16:25-27, the subject of which is "the Mystery," which was never revealed, but always hidden). (Bullinger, 890)

Kind Of Omission
Part Of
Related Figures Figures of Order, paradiegesis, figures of amplification, emphasis, epanodos
Notes Chose trope, rather than scheme, because although there is a departure from logical order, this is in relation to the narration as a whole, and not within a single sentence/idea.
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes I don't know where the example came from; it is not from Silva Rhetoricae. - Nike
Reviewed No