Ekphrasis in Latin Epic (3756 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


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1. Introduction: recent ways of looking at ekphrasis

Lausberg’s standard handbook of literary rhetoric defines ekphrasis as “the detailed description of a person or an object”. The entry cross-references the Latin term evidentia, “the vividly detailed depiction of a broadly conceived whole object through the enumeration of (real or invented) observable details” (Lausberg 1998: §810, §1133). Bartsch and Elsner (2007: i) summarize the multifarious power of this figure with admirable clarity:

[Ekphrasis] has been variously treated as a mirror of the text, a mirror in the text, a mode of specular inversion, a further voice that disrupts or extend the message …

Citation: Bernstein, Neil. "Ekphrasis in Latin Epic". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 July 2020 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19589, accessed 19 June 2021.]

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