An Introduction to Deesis

Deesis (etymologically Greek, signifying “an entreaty,” or “a calling to witness”), is a wishful expression of desire or want usually made as an invocationOpens in new window or entreatyOpens in new window to the supreme powers.

This device is a relative of OptatioOpens in new window, and a major exclamatory figure of thought which expresses an urgent request or a prayer to God.

Classic Example
  • “O God of battles, steel, my soldiers’ hearts! … not today, O Lord. Oh, not today, think not upon the fault my father made in Compassing the crown!”
  • — (Shakespeare, Henry V 4:1)
Further Readings:
Silver Rhetoricae: DeesisOpens in new window
Dictionary of Rhetorical Terms by Gregory T. Howard | DeesisOpens in new window