An Introduction to Enantiosis
Enantiosis (derives from Greek enantios, literally “opposite”), is a figure which consists when contrasting ideas or things very different are by comparisonOpens in new window placed together, in which they mutually set off and enhance one another.
Enantiosis is a close relative of antithesis; while the antithesisOpens in new window balances one idea against its opposite, enantiosis presents the contrary or negative aspect of the stated idea, so as to imply an affirmativeOpens in new window.
In another instance of this figure, Alexander PopeOpens in new window has most beautifully contrasted the noisy rattling of numbers, and their soft and easy smoothness, in the following verses:
- What, like Sir Richard, rumbling, rough and fierce
With arms, and George, and Brunswick crowd the verse,
Rend with tremendous sound your ears asunder,
With gun, drum, trumpet, blunderbuss, and thunder?
Or nobly wild, with BUDGELL’s fire and force,
Paint angels trembling round his falling horse? -
Then all your muse’s softer art display,
Let CAROLINA smooth the tuneful lay,
Lull with AMELIA’s liquid name the nine,
And sweetly flow thro’ all the royal line.
The nature of this figure, is that of contrast, by which contraries are resembled together, and made to exhibit contraries in their utmost propensity, as with the following lines of Mr. Pope:
- Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
An hero perish, or a sparrow fall;
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl’d,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world. [here, a strong contrast is achieved by setting together, “Heroes and sparrows,” “atoms and systems,” “bubbles and worlds” being matched together produce a wonderful effect upon the mind; and, beign represented as appearing upon a level before the infinite Supreme fill us with exalted ideas of his immense greatness.]
Examples of enantiosis, also abounds in the scripture; we have in 2. Cor. Iv.17, where the present and future state of the saints of God are described, and compared with each other; in which the darkness of the first is all dissolved befor the glories of the last:
- For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
And in the beginning of the next chapter we are met with a most beautiful contrast:
- “For we know that if our eathly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”