An Introduction to Chronographia

Chronographia (etymologically from chronos, “time” and graphein, “to write”), is a rhetorical device for the vivid description of an imperial history of time; or a representation of a particular season or moment to create an illusionary reality. This is also a sub-set of EnargiaOpens in new window, which is the generic term for the figures of vivid, and visual description.

The sole purpose of the device is to chronographically describe with accuracy the time or season in which an event took place. By this typical nature of the device, ErasmusOpens in new window quotes the famous description of nighttime in Bk. 4 of Virgil’s Aeneid as an example of the device – Virgil’s description has a larger rhetorical implication, our understanding of Queen Dido after Aeneas’ abandonment is made vivid by contrasting nocturnal serenity to Dido’s anguished tossing.

Examples of Chronographia
  • “For it is proved by means of the astronomical movements that ‘the time when the wagon has been driven around’ is a short time before daybreak.”
  • “Listen, my children and you shall hear
    of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
    On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five,
    Hardly a man is now alive,
    that remembers that famous day and year.”
    — (Longfellow, “Paul Revere’s Ride”)
Further Readings:
Silver Rhetoricae, Figures | ChronographiaOpens in new window