On Tropes

The Latin text is also available.

A trope is an expression taken out of its proper meaning to a similar improper one for the purpose of embellishment or necessity. There are thirteen tropes: 1. metaphora, 2. catachresis, 3. metalepsis, 4. metonymia, 5. antonomasia, 6. epitheton, 7. synecdoche, 8. onomatopoeia, 9. periphrasis, 10. hyperbaton, 11. hyperbole, 12. allegoria, 13. homoeosis.

1. Metaphor is the transformation of things or words. This takes place in four ways, from the animate to the animate, from the inanimate to the inanimate, from the animate to the inanimate, from the inanimate to the animate -- from the animate to the animate, as Tiphyn aurigam celeris fecere carinae; for both auriga `driver' and gubernator `guider' have souls -- from inanimate to inanimate, as ut pelagus tenuere rates (Aeneid 5.8) `when the ships gained the deep'; for neither naves `ships' nor rates `rafts, ships' are alive -- from animate to inanimate, as Atlantis cinctum assidue cui nubibus atris piniferum caput; (Aeneid 4.248) `Atlas, whose pine-wreathed head is always encircled by black clouds', for these are animate, mons `mountain', to which human members are attributed, is not alive -- from the inanimate to the animate, as si tantum pectore robur concipis (Aeneid 11.368) `if in your heart you nourish such strength', since robur `strength' is not alive; likewise also Turnus, to whom these things are said, is a living being. We need to know that some metaphors are reciprocal, others individual.

2. Catachresis is the misuse of an inappropriate noun, e.g. when we call someone a `parricide' who has slain his brother, and when we call a swimming pool a piscina, though it has no fish. For this, if it did not appropriate a name from somewhere else, would not have a word of its own.

3. Metalepsis is an expression gradually leading up to what it shows, as speluncis abdidit atris (Aeneid 1.60) `hid them in dark caverns', and:

post aliquot mea regna videns mirabor aristas.
(Aeneid 1.69) `after a long time shall I marvel at ears of corn, looking at my kingdom?'