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The HYPERBOLE considered.
$. 1. An Hyperbole, its definition. 2. Hyper
boles of two kinds : (i) That which increases beyond the truth; (2) That which falls below the truth. $ 3. Various ways by which an Hyperbole is expressed: (1) In plain and direEt terms ; (2) By similitude ; (3) By a strong Metaphor. $ 4. Various remarks upon an Hyperbole. $ 5. How an Hyperbole may be softened. $ 6. If two or more Hyperboles in a sentence, they are to strengthen one another.
$1. N Hyperbole * is a Trope, that in its
representation of things either magnifies or diminishes beyond or below the line of ftriệt truth, or to a degree that is disproportioned to the real nature of the subject.
§ 2. This Trope is branched into two kinds. (1) That kind of Hyperbole which increases beyond the truth. Such are the expressions, wbiter than snow, blacker than a raven, swifter than the
* From umagbanw, I exceed.
wind, and the like. Thus VIRGIL describes the Giant POLYPHEME,
He walks sublime, and tow'rs among the stars *.
On either side two rocks enormous rise,
Whose summits threaten to invade the skies to In Deut. ix. 1. we read of cities fenced up to beaven. In Job xx. 6. the head of a prosperous wicked man is represented as reaching to the tlouds : and in Psalm cvii. 26. mariners in a storm are said to mount up, that is, upon the waves, to heaven.
(2) The other fort of Hyperbole falls below the truth. Thus we speak of moving Nower than a snail, of being as deaf as a rock, as blind as a mole, and of being wasted. ito a skeleton. I Sam.
ss After whom, fays David to Saúl, is the king of Israel come out ? after whom dost so thou pursue ? after a dead dog, after a fea ? So Job xxv. 6. man is called a worm. And Isaiah xl. 17. ss All nations before God are as nothing; ts and they are counted to him as less than no
thing." And Psalm lxii. 9. Surely inen of ss low degree are vanity, and men of high degree ss are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.sk
$ 3. - Ipse arduus altaque pulsat Sidera
Æneid. iii. ver. 619. + Hinc atque hinc vaftæ rupes, geminique minantur In cælum fcopuli.
Virgil, Æneid. lib. i. ver. 166.
$ 3. And as there are two kinds of Hyperboles, so there are various ways by which they are expressed. As,
(1) In plain and direct terms: High o'er the winds and storms the mountain bears,
And on its top recline the weary stars *. And MILTON, speaking of Satan and Death on the point of engagement, says,
So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell
(2) An Hyperbole is expressed by similitude or comparison. Thus Virgil, describing a seafight, says, ? At once they rush to conflict : all the fea Foams with the dashing oars and forky prows, As if the Cyclades uprooted swam The ocean, or with mountains mountains wag'd
Enormous battle on th'afflicted deep I. So PINDAR compares an attack of HERCULES
upon * Ştat fublimis apex, ventosque imbresque ferenus Despicit, & tantum feflis infiditur aftris.
Statui Theb. lib. ii. ver. 35. + Paradise Lost, book ii. ver. 719. 3. Una omnes ruere, & totum spumare reductis
Convulsum remis roftrisque tridentibus æquor.
Æneid. lib. viii. ver. 689.
upon the inhabitants of Cos, not to winds, or seas, ør fires, but to a thunderbolt *.
(3) An Hyperbole is expressed by a strong Metaphor t. Thus we call a very virtuous character an angel, and a very vicious one, a fiend or devil: we say a drunkard is a swine, and an extortioner a wolf or barpy. Cicero furnishes us with an Hyperbole of this kind in one of his Orations against Verres: “ There was lately in
Sicily not that Dionysius, nor that PHALA
RIS, for that island has produced a succession “ of cruel tyrants, but a certain new monster, " the spawn of that ancient barbarity, which is « faid to have infested that country; for it is “ my opinion, that neither Charybdis nor Scylla $. have been so destructive to mariners, as what " this monster has been in the same straits t."
* Nec igni, nec ventis, nec mari, fed fulmini dicit fimilem) effe, ut illa minora, hoc par esset. QUINTIL. lib. viii. cap. 6. $ 2.
+ Dr WARD observes, that an Hyperbole is principally metaphorical, but sometimes taken from other Tropes; as, when instead of saying Cato was a very virtuous man, VelLEIUS PATERCULUS calls him the image of virtue, it is an hy. perbolical Metonymy of the adjunct for the subject. Ward's System of Oratory, vol. ii. page 24.
Versabatur in Sicilia non Dionysius ille, nec Phalaris, tulit enim illa quondam insula multos & crudeles tyrannos, fed quoddam novum monstrum ex illa vetere humanitate, quæ in iisdem locis versata effe dicitur. Non enim Charybdim tam infeftam, neque Scyllam navibus, quam iftum in eodem freto fuiffe arbitror. Cicer. Orat. 7. in Verrem, $ 56.
$ 4. Before we quit the Hyperbole, it may be proper to subjoin the following remarks.
(1) It appears that the Hyperbole, when it is expressed in plain and direct terms, is only common language, and neither Trope nor Figure; and thạt when it is expressed by a Similitude, it is a Figure, but no Trope; for there is no alienation of a word from a common to a borrowed sense, in which, as, has been observed, the very essence of a Trope consists. It appears further, that when the Hyperbole is expressed by a strong Metaphor, as in the third case, it is rather to be considered as a particular species of the Metaphor than a distinct and partiçular kind of Trope. But yet as all the Writers on Rhetoric, as far as I have observed, place the Hyperbole among the Tropes, and assign it a division by itself, I have accordingly discoursed concerning it.
(2) The ground of the Hyperbole seems to lie in the difficulty of conveying to others the ardor and extent of our ideas, and therefore we venture beyond the boundaries of truth, that the mind of the hearer without any further labour may reach as far as the truth at once.
“ We are allowed, says QUINTILIAN, to speak
beyond the truth, because we cannot exactly « ftrike upon the truth ; and it is better we his should go beyond, than not attain the truth in 5 our discourfes * »
Every Hyperbole, says
“ SENECA, Conceditur enim amplius dicere, quia dici quantum eft