Posts Tagged ‘Chiasmus History’

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Chiasmus is common throughout literary history.  It is found in modern history in the writings and speeches of men like Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, and Ben Franklin.  Chiasmus has been found as early as the third millennium B.C.  Quintilian, the first century A.D. Roman rhetorician argued:                                           

A literary work should begin and end in the same way, with similar material  (and so should smaller passages within the work), with the most important material in the middle.  Typically, each unit begins and ends with narrative material between which discourse material will be framed.   Furthermore, passages should not be simply juxtaposed, strung together, without connecting links.  From the rhetoricians dramatists borrow the principle that passages should be ‘mixed and tied together by their ends’  (Lucian); each part should be prepared for by ‘seeds of proof sown’ in the preceding part (quoted in Stock).

– Aaron Goerner


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