What Is Synoeciosis?
Synoeciosis (derives from Greek combination ‘syn,’ “with” and ‘oikeios’ “one’s own” ), is a figure which consists by presenting two contrary qualities or conditions of the same subject, in the context not to oppose but mainly to agree upon one another.
George PuttenhamOpens in new window, in his rhetorical manual, “The Arte of English Poesie” (1589), defines the figure synoeciosis as a “cross-couple” because it takes two contrary words, and tieth them as it were in a pair of couples, and so makes them agree like good fellows. Thus, he supports with an Example:
- “The covetous miser of all his goods ill got,
As well wants what he hath, as that he hath not.”
Synoeciosis effectively thrives in bringing two contraries together in agreement to form oxymoronic or paradoxical truths, as some author points out:
- to hope more is to have less;
- to gain is to lose;
- excess of pleasure brings grief.
Synoeciosis uses two contraries to put up one thought pattern without necessarily contradicting or opposing one another. This scheme of reasoning merely stimulates attention in virtue of the seeming incompatibility of the terms which are joined together which in return creates a kind of balancing effect traceable to rhetorics.