Figure Name sermocinatio
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Ad Herennium 4.52.65; Peacham (1577) O3v; Day 1599 97 ("dialogismus," "sermocinatio"); Garrett Epp (1994) ("sermocinatio," "dialogoi"); Ad Herennium ("dialogue") (367-369); Peacham 1593; Vinsauf (1967) ("sermocinatio"); Macbeth (1876) ("dialogue"); De Mille (1882)("sermocinatio," "dialogue," "didactic dialogue," "dramatic dialogue"); Kellog (1880) ("dialogue")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms dialogue, dialogoi
Etymology L. “[inserted imaginary] dialogue”
Type Chroma
Linguistic Domain

1. Speaking dramatically in the first person for someone else, assigning language that would be appropriate for that person's character (and for one's rhetorical purpose).
Sometimes this has meant dramatizing an entire scene, performing the dialogue of more than one person. In oratory, sermocinatio was readily blended with the narratio. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Assigning language to a person which conforms with his character. (Garrett Epp)

3. Dialogue consists in putting in the mouth of some person language in keeping with his character (Ad Herennium)

4. Sermocinatio, a forme of speech by which the Orator faineth a person and maketh him speake much or litle according to comelinesse, much like to the figure next before, but yet they differ in this , when the person whom the Orator faineth, speaketh all himselfe, then is it Prosopopeia, but when the Orator answereth now and then to the question, which the fained person objecteth to him, it is called Sermocinatio as in this example of Ose. (Peacham)

5. 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 standard procedure. ... ((15) sermocinatio) There is another figure whereby a speech is adapted to the person speaking, and what is said gives the very tone and manner of the speaker. (Vinsauf)

6. Dialogue is a form into which, with much effect, an argument or burst of feeling may be thrown. (Macbeth)

In oratory there is a form of interrogation where the question is immediately followed by an answer. It is a species of dialogue with one's self, and is called "sermocinatio." (De Mille)

7 b) 562. DIALOGUE.
In other kinds of composition the subject is treated by one, viz., the author, whether writer or speaker. This is the case in description, narration, and exposition. Even in debate, which is most nearly akin to dialogue, this holds good, since each speech in a debate is by itself, a single consideration of the subject by one individual- the speaker.
Dialogue is different. It is the consideration of a subject by more than one. Here the interlocutors and their arguments must be regarded as inseparable.
Dialogue is an imitation of the conversation of real life, and differs from other kinds of literature as conversation differs from individual discussion, soliloquy, or monologue. (De Mille)

1. Dialogue is didactic when it is used for the purpose of exposition. (De Mille)

2. This is used for the purpose of narration. (De Mille)

8. INTERROGATION, DIALOGUE, EXCLAMATION, AND VISION.-In orations and in all discourse where energy is sought, while most of the sentences may be declarative and imperative, not all should be... Breaking up routine, and conciliating the good will of those addressed by this show of respect to their opinions, the subject thus brought home to them and made personal takes on in their eyes additional importance and interest. This interest becomes intense if reply follows question-the speaker answering for his auditors, real or supposed, and carrying on a lively dialogue between himself and them, whom he may picture as denying, objecting, querying, or assenting. (Kellog, 156)


1. When soldiers filled the city and all, oppressed by fear, took shelter in their homes, a certain ruffian appears in soldier's garb, armed with a sword and holding a javelin. Three youths, similarly appareled, follow him. Breaking suddenly into the house, he shouts with a loud voice, "Where is that wealthy master of this house who was to have appeared before me? Well? Why don't you answer!" Indeed, all are so terrified they cannot speak. Then the unlucky man's wife, in a fit of tears, flings herself at the soldier's feet, saying, "By all you hold dearest, pity us. Why destroy those already downcast? Make the best use of your own good fortune. We, also, have enjoyed good fortune. Do not forget that you, too, are human." "Why don't you just shut up and hand him over? He's not going to escape me." Meanwhile the master of the house, having heard of the commotion and the threatening stranger, entrusts his children to their teacher. "Listen well, Gorgias, hide my dear ones, protect them, be sure they are brought up to be young men in safety" [etc. until the man is killed] —adapted from Ad Herennium 4.52 (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. 'Ye quek,' yit seyde the doke, ful wel and fayre,
'There been mo sterres, God wot, than a payre.' (PF 594-95 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

2. " The wise man will think that for the common weal he ought to undergo every peril. Often he will say to himself: Not for self alone was I born, but also, and much more, for the fatherland. Above all, let me spend my life, which I owe to fate, for the salvation of my country. She has nourished me. She has in safety and honour reared me even to this time of life. She has protected my interests by good laws, the best of customs, and a most honourable training. How can I adequately repay
her from whom I have received these blessings ?
According as the wise man often says this to himself, when the republic is in danger, he on his part will shun no danger." (Ad Herennium)

4. “Tush, I am rich, I have goods enough, in all my workes shall not one fault be found that I have offended: be it so, yet I am the Lord thy God which brought thee from the land of Aegypt, & yet wil I make thee dwell in tabernacles, as in the daies of the solemne feast.” Ose. 12. 8 (Peacham)

5. ((15) sermocinatio (dialogue)) The servant of the high priest maliciously denounced the replies of our Lord, and striking him said: "Do you answer the high priest thus?" He gently responded: "Friend, if I have spoken anything ill, tell me in what. If well, why do you strike me?". To you also, Pilate, resisting as far as you could, Judea thundered, howling "Crucify him!" - taking up the cry and roaring again, "Crucify him!" (Vinsauf)

6. In an intensely beautiful piece by George Herbert,
he describes himself as wholly abandoning his soul to unbelief and rebellious utterances against God and self-denial. The piece, however, concludes with this inimitable bit of dialogue:
" But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild,
At every word,
Methought I heard One calling, ' Child !'
And I replied, ' My Lord !' " (Macbeth)

7. "Corruption has introduced such manners as have proved the bane and destruction of our country. Is a man known to have received foreign money? People envy him. Does he own it? They laugh. Is he formally convicted? They forgive him." -DEMOSTHENES. (De Mille)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures dialogismus, personification, interrogatio
Notes Unsure of 'type of'.
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes - Changed linguistic domain from phonological to semantic. - The example doesn't demonstrate the definition. This is confusing.
Reviewed No