Chapter

Tropes and figures

Wolfgang Hübner

in Forgotten Stars

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586462
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724961 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586462.003.0009
Tropes and figures

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Poetry and astrology are both essentially metaphorical. The starry firmament as a whole can be understood as a sum of metaphors, since the human mind first transposes its surrounding real world up to the sky, and then this transfer from earth up to heaven is followed by a re­verse movement from heaven down to earth, in which the figures and movements of the constellations are related back to human life by prognostication. Thus, subject matter and poe­try are more closely related to one another in the Astronomica than in other didatic poems: figures may have astro­logical meaning, including mythical examples, comparison, repetition, verbal oxy­moron, and nominal polyptoton, as do such tropes as—beside metaphor and its special case, hyperbole—metonymy, ambiguity, and polysemy. It is thus all the more dangerous to try to interpret Manilius without taking account of the astrological tradition that underlies his poem.

Keywords: astrology; didactic poetry; figure (rhetorical); Manilius; metaphor; trope (rhetorical)

Chapter.  8495 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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