What is Cataplexis?

Cataplexis (known as comminatio in Latin; literally, “a terrifying threat”), is a form of speech, by which the Orator threatens a misfortune against some person, people, city, common wealth or country.

A cataplexis speech usually contains and declares the certainty or likelihood of disaster, or punisments to fall upon them for their wickedness, impiety, insolence, and general misconduct.

Classical Examples

  1. “You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead – dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist – and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thous hast murdered thyself.”

    — (William Wilson, 3:325)

  2. Gentleman: “I dare warrant you (M. Parson) … you shall have your wages home with you, and for the greedy desire you have had to fill your paunch, you shall have fire and brimstone your belly full: and for your mirth and merry pastime … you shall have more weeping nad gnashing of teeth then you would desire: and for the friendship you have had in the wold, you shall have as much of wrath of God as you are able to bear ..”

    — (I. B., A Dialogue between a vertuous Gentleman and a popish priest, D4r-v)

This figure “Cataplexis” is associated with consequence. It is related to Deprecatio, Execratio, Ominatio, and Paraenesis (See Links below).

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