Definition & Examples of Topographia

A scene-like description for topographia
Topographia: The vivid description of a true place

Topographia (derives from Greek, “description of place” ), is a type of EnargiaOpens in new window, solely concerned with the vivid description of a true place like a city, a palace, a garden, often used as epic digressions. The topographia differs from topothesiaOpens in new window, in that topographia is the clear description of a real rather than an imaginary place in which topothesia is concerned.

Examples of Topographia

Diverse illustrations of topographic descriptions abound in travel books, epics, and romances, where they serve as descriptive places of rest in the narrative flow of events.

The following illustration is taken from a passage in the Morning Chronicle, (9 Nov. 1849), where the social historian Henry Mayhem describes the room of a poor seamtress.

  • There was no table in the room; but on a chair without a back there was an old tin tray, in which stood a cup of hot, milkless tea, and a broken saucer, with some half dozen small potatoes in it. It was the poor soul’s dinner. Some tea leaves had been given her, and she had boiled them up again to make something like a meal. She had not even a morsel of bread. In one corner of the room was a hay mattress rolled up. With this she slept on the floor.
    — Henry Mayhem
Further Readings:
The Garden of Eloquence, Henry Peachum | TopographiaOpens in new window