An Introduction to Enargia
Enargia (also spelled enargeia, etymologically from Greek enarges, literally means “vividness”) is the generic name given to a group of figures that exclusively dealt with ultra-vivid verbal descriptions imaginable.
The presentation of enargia typically consists in a vivid description of actions, characters, abtract qualities, etc., that conjure palpable images in the audiences’ “mind’s eye”. Not to be confused with EnergiaOpens in new window
In Henry PeachamOpens in new window's observation, Enargia is presented:
- “When we express and set forth a thing so plainly that it seemeth rather painted in tables than expressed with words, and the hearer shall rather think he see it than hear it.”
QuintilianOpens in new window, giving his observation of the figure, opines that
- ‘There are certain experiences which the Romans call visions, whereby things absent are presented to our imagination with such extreme vividness that they seem actually to be there before our very eyes’.
He not only suggests that enargeia offers pictorial vividness but also points to the affective power of such descriptions, suggesting that the listener’s emotions will be moved as if they had seen the actual events themselves.
Enargia can be descriptively specific:
- Peristasis Opens in new window, the descriptive kind for attendant circumstances, in terms of place, time, context, personalities etc.;
- Topothesia Opens in new window, the descriptive kind for imaginary place;
- Ethopoeia Opens in new window, the descriptive kind for a person’s character;
- Astrothesia Opens in new window, the descriptive kind for stars;
- Dendrographia Opens in new window, the descriptive kind for a tree; and many others.