comparison synkrisis
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Comparison is "a comparative composition, setting something greater or equal side by side with the subject." Building on the previous two exercises, this is either a double encomium or an encomium paired with a vituperation. Students were instructed to make a forceful effect. Subject matter is the same as in the prior two exercises, but often included historical, legendary, or fictitious characters.

Directions for Composition

Praise two people (or things) in close comparison, or praise one and vituperate against the other. Be certain not to treat them separately, but together, in parallel fashion. After composing an exordium (introduction), follow these steps:

  1. Describe the stock each person comes from:
    • what people
    • what country
    • what ancestors
    • what parents
  2. Describe each person's upbringing
    • education
    • instruction in art
    • training in laws
  3. Describe each person's deeds, which should be described as the results of
    • his/her excellencies or evils of mind (such as fortitude/weakness or prudence/indiscretion)
    • his/her excellencies or evils of body (such as beauty/plainness, speed/lethargy, or vigor/lack of vigor)
    • his/her excellencies or evils of fortune (good/ill use of high position, power, wealth, or friends)
  4. Conclude with an epilogue including either an exhortation to your hearers to/not to emulate either person, or a prayer.
ExampleA comparison of Achilles and Hector is suggested. The most famous examples from antiquity of comparison or sinkrisis are from Plutarch's parallel lives, such as that comparing Demosthenes and Cicero.

Related Figures Related Topics of Invention Sources: Quintilian 2.4.21

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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