calling it what it once had been



The same so sore annoyed has the knight,  
That welnigh choked with the deadly stinke, 
His forces faile, ne can no lenger fight. 
Whose corage when the feend perceiv’d to shrinke, 
She poured forth out of her hellish sinke 
Her fruitfull cursed spawne of serpents small,  
Deformed monsters, fowle, and blacke as inke, 
With swarming all about his legs did crall,
And him encombred sore, but could not hurt at all.


As gentle Shepheard in sweete even-tide, 
When ruddy Phoebus gins to welke in west,  
High on an hill, his flocke to vewen wide, 
Markes which do byte their hasty supper best, 
A cloud of combrous gnattes do him molest, 
All striving to infixe their feeble stings, 
That from their noyance he no where can rest,  
But with his clownish hands their tender wings
He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their murmurings.


Thus ill bestedd, and fearefull more of shame, 
Then of the certeine perill he stood in, 
Halfe furious unto his foe he came,  
Resolv’d in minde all suddenly to win, 
Or soone to lose, before he once would lin 
And strooke at her with more then manly force, 
That from her body full of filthie sin 
He raft her hatefull head without remorse;
A streame of cole black bloud forth gushed from her corse.

Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto I 


MOSCA: … would you once close
Those filthy eyes of yours, that flow with slime 
Like two frog-pits, and those same hanging cheeks, 
Covered with hide instead of cheeks– [To Covino]–Nay, help sir–
That looks like frozen dishcloth set on end!

CORVINO: Or like an old smoked wall on which the ran 
Ran down in streaks!

MOSCA: Excellent, sir, speak out…

Volpone, Act I, Scene V


BARABAS: … See the simplicity of these base slaves,
Who, for the villains have no wit themselves,
Think me to be a senseless lump of clay
That will with every water wash to dirt. 

BARABAS: The incertain pleasures of swift-footed time
Have taken their flight and left me in despair,
And of my former riches rests no more
But bare remembrance–like a soldier’s scar, 
That has no further comfort for his maim. 

The Jew of Malta, Act I, Scene II and Act II, Scene I


The fourth kind of frigidity occurs in metaphors; for there are inappropriate metaphors, some because they are laughable (comic poets, too, use metaphor), some because too lofty and tragic. And they are unclear if far-fetched, for example, Gorgias’ phrase about “pale and bloodless doings,” or “You have sown shamefully and have reaped badly.” These are too poetic. And as Alcidamas calls philosophy “a fortress against the laws” and the Odyssey “a fair mirror of human life” and “bringing no such toys to poetry.” All these are unpersuasive for the reasons given. Yet Gorgias’ exclamation to the swallow when she flew down and let go her droppings on him is in the best tragic manner: he said, “Shame on you, Philomela”; for if a bird did it there was no shame, but [it would have been] shameful for a maiden. He thus rebuked the bird well by calling it what it once had been rather than what it now was.

On Rhetoric, 1408b (Kennedy trans.)


“…These are the things which in good orators produce applause and admiration; and no man will attain these except by long and large practice in writing, however ardently he may have trained himself in those off-hand declamations; he too who approaches oratory by way of long practice in writing, brings this advantage to his task, that even if he is extemporizing, whatever he may say bears a likeness to the written word; and moreover if ever, during a speech, he has introduced a written note, the rest of his discourse, when he turns away form the writing, will proceed in unchanging style. Just as when a boat is moving at high speed, if the crew rest upon their oars, the craft herself still keeps her way and her run, though the driving force of the oars has ceased, so in an unbroken discourse, when written notes are exhausted, the rest of the speech still maintains a like progress, under the impulse given by the similarity and energy of the written word.

De oratore, Crassus at I. xxxiii. 152