Antanagoge

An Introduction to Antanagoge

Antanagoge (derives from Greek combination ‘ant-’ “against,” and ‘anagoge’ “a leading up”) — consists in two contexts.

Firstly — A figure by which the accused person unable to respond the allegation or accusation of an adversary, rather throws a retort by means of counter-allegation or recrimination to the accusation thrown by the adversary.

Example includes:
  • “It ill becomes you, Penelope, to cavil at another’s alleged action in eating the rest of the chocolate turtles when, if you will permit me to lodge an antanagoge, you yourself were the only person present last Wednesday when an entire packet of sherbet and marshmallow cones disappeared overnight.”

Secondly — Antanagoge is a technique by means of aligning positive views to mitigate the negative aspects of an idea, person, or object. In this vein, the negative views which makes the idea undesirable or difficult, are moderated with the introduction of equally positive views, thereby putting the whole idea in a positive perspective by making the benefits (the positives) outweigh the costs — in this case, the negative.

Examples (of the second context) include:
  • Andy is a good lad, given the fact that he resumes late to work, he’s also very proficient in his expertise.
  • “I know that in the past it has failed – and on occasion failed miserably – but advances in technology, massive investments from the private sector, and a changed political climate all make the future much, much brighter.”
  • — (courtesy: Brendan McGuigan, Rhetorical Devices: A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers)

  • “Many are the pains and perils to be passed,
    But great is the gain and glory at the last.”
  • “While cutting automobile pollution may cause car makers to lose money in the short run, the benefits of cleaner air and a decrease in deaths by respiratory diseases are definitely worth the risk to businesses.”
  • — (courtesy: Brendan McGuigan, Rhetorical Devices: A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers)

Now, dwelling on the last example; the writer has cleverly juxtaposed the negative prospect of losing money with the advantages of cleaner air and, most importantly, with a decrease in deaths. To emphasize the point, both negative and positive are restated again at the end of the sentence through the phrase, definitely worth the risk. The example contains two antanagoges.

Important Hint! 

Antanagoge is a structure for the ordering of points in the scale that makes the positives balance with, and outweigh the negatives. It is a device that glorify the positives against the negatives.

Further Readings:
Wikipedia | AntanagogeOpens in new window
Brendan McGuigan | Rhetorical Devices: A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers | Antanagoge (Pg. 140)Opens in new window
Peter Bowler | The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird and Wondrous Words | Antanagoge (Pg. 6)Opens in new window