Prosopopoeia

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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

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Prosopopoeia identifies the specific rhetorical act of giving a voice to and speaking in the name of another person or an inanimate object. Greek in origin, prosopopoeia literally means “to make” (

poeien

) a “face” or “person” (

prosopon

) through the art, skill, or craft of rhetoric (See Lanham 123).

Perhaps the most popular and enduring use of prosopopoeia is to make an absent or dead person present through speech. According to Abraham Fraunce in The Arcadian Rhetorike (1588), prosopopoeia is “a fayning of any person, when in our speech we represent the person... and make it speake as though he were in the present” (85, 86). This form of oratorical performance, of role-playing, of counterfeiting presence, is central to A Mirror for Magistrates (1559), a book of ghostly

1000 words

Citation: Sturgeon, Elizabeth M.. "Prosopopoeia". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 July 2007 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1734, accessed 29 February 2024.]

1734 Prosopopoeia 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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