per-mu-ta'-ti-o L. “exchange, substitution”
(of one expression for another)

Sometimes simply the Latin term for allegory. However, the Ad Herennium author defines permutatio in three ways. The first of these is akin to the conventional understanding of allegory, while the other two are comparisons involving allusions.

  1. permutatio by comparison
    Employing several metaphors drawn from the same domain together.


    After the most recent threats from abroad, the president claimed the dogs of war were barking up the wrong tree, and if they weren't careful, they'd find themselves more neutered than neutral.
  2. permutatio by argument
    Employing a comparison in order to magnify or lessen.


    Said to Dan Quayle during the Vice-presidential debates: "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
  3. permutatio by contrast
    Employing a mocking comparison.


    Said to a penny pincher:
    Thanks for your philanthropy, buddy.

Related Figures

Sources: Ad Herennium 4.34.46