Epicrisis

An Introduction to Epicrisis

Epicrisis (etymologically from Greek “epikrisis,” literally means “to cast judgment on”), is a figure which consists when the interlocutor quotes a text from authority and then using the author’s declaration or judgment to comment on the matter in hand.

Epicritical quotation is typically a product of contentious argument; One is prompted to quote either to agree, disagree or in qualifying the argument:

  • ‘These particulars being made known to the Royal Geographical Society of London, the conclusion was drawn by that body “that there is a continuous tract of land extending from 470° 30’ E. to 69° 29’ W. longitude, running the parallel of from sixty-six to sixty-seven degrees south latitude.” … My own experience will be found to testify most directly to the falsity of the conclusion arrived at by the society.’ — (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, 3: 170 – 1)

Epicrisis has a strong appeal to Logos, but like other related figures, must be used judiciously and with sensitivity to the warranting occasion. It is a relative of ExergasiaOpens in new window.

Classical Examples
  • “Mathew states, ‘Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also’ — (5.39).
  • Notice that this ethical prescription almost perfectly depicts the actual situation of children during punishment: a child who must acquiesce in and facilitate his or her own punishment is, in essence, being made to turn the other cheek.” — (Benjamin J. Abelow, “Religious Bhehavior as a Reflection of Childhood Corporal Punishment.” The Biology of Religious Behavior, ed. By Jay R. Feierman. ABC-CLIO, 2009)
    Note also the following:

  • “you have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those spitefully use you and persecute you.” — (Mathew 5.43)
  • “Everything comes but with a price. ‘There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires’.” — (Nelson Mandela)
Further Readings:
Henry Peachum., The Garden of Eloquence | EpicrisisOpens in new window