epitheton epitheton
 e-pith'-e-ton from Gk. epithets“placed upon, added”
appositum, sequens
epithet, qualifier, figure of attribution

Attributing to a person or thing a quality or description—sometimes by the simple addition of a descriptive adjective; sometimes through a descriptive or metaphorical apposition.

Note: If the description is given in place of the name, instead of in addition to it, it becomes antonomasia or periphrasis.
The following example is epitheton using a simple adjective added to a noun. As Quintilian suggests, the epithet is made stronger when metaphorical, as this is:
"unfettered joy"

Epitheton is sometimes used in the conventional names or descriptive slogans found in oral-formulaic poetry:
rosy-fingered dawn; swift-footed Achilles

A series of following appositions constitute this use of epitheton:
Anchises, worthy deigned
Of Venus' glorious bed, beloved of heaven,
Twice rescued from the wreck of Pergamum
—Vergil, Aeneid 3.475

Related Figures

Related Topics of Invention

See Also

  Sources: Quintilian 8.6.40-43; Peacham (1577) H1r; Putt. (1589) 187, 193 ("epitheton," "qualifier," "the figure of attribution"); Day 1599 84

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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