(162 words)
  • Editors

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

From Latin epitheton, from Greek, from epitithenai meaning “to add”, an adjective or adjectival cluster that is associated with a particular person or thing and that usually seems to capture their prominent characteristics. For example, “Ethelred the unready”, or “fleet-footed Achilles” in Pope's version of The Iliad. The “transferred epithet” is a special category where the adjective cannot normally be applied to the noun but where its use becomes justified by the added effect thus achieved. For example, in his “Ode to a Nightingale” Keats brilliantly transfers the sense of embalming to darkness:

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense …
Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Editors. "Epithet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=353, accessed 29 September 2016.]