Chapter

Figures of Speech in Aristophanes

Simon R. Slings

in The Language of Greek Comedy

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780199245475
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191714993 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245475.003.0005
Figures of Speech in Aristophanes

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This chapter illustrates some of the problems that arise when we try to separate literary and non-literary language. It argues that a figure of speech such as chiasmus (and similarly anaphora) is a natural (or universal) means to package complex information. As long as it fulfils this primary aim, a chiasmus is therefore not a literary embellishment. If, on the other hand, the information complexity is minor so that the chiasmus is functionally ‘unnecessary’, the addressee will perceive it as a literary figure. Most of the Aristophanic examples of chiasmus and anaphora are not ‘justified’ by an excessive information complexity, leading to the conclusion that Aristophanes' style is in this respect more literate than oral.

Keywords: figures of speech; Aristophanes; chiasmus; literary language; non-literary language; anaphora

Chapter.  3907 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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