Stylistic Analysis of Latin Prose: A
Prepared by Timothy
The University of
Texas at Austin
I. Morphology and Orthography
- What choices has the author made between alternate
forms and spelling (e.g., ere or erunt in the third
plural perfect active indicative; is or es in the
accusative plural 3rd declension)?
- Are any forms or spelling used which you might not expect in a
prose author of this period (e.g., quum for cum,
qui for quo)?
- Are words or phrases used here which are rare
elsewhere in this author? in this period? in this genre? in prose?
- Are there words or phrases which seem to reflect the formulaic
language of law, diplomacy, government, or religion?
- Are there words or phrases which seem archaic, poetic, or
- Are any words or phrases repeated in the passage, or is
diction deliberately varied?
- To what extent does the author use metaphorical
- Are any expressions particularly effective in their
- What words does the author choose to make transitions from one
sentence to another?
- Does the author prefer abstract or concrete nouns?
- What choices has the author made between synonyms?
- What syntactical features stand out (e.g., historical
infinitives, impersonal passives, repeated grammatical
- Which sentences are long, which short?
- How are the longer sentences constructed?
- Are clauses strung along paratactically, or
- How are clauses subordinated (e.g., with participles, or
- Which thoughts occur in the main clauses, which in
- Do the clauses follow one another by an easily
comprehensible logic, or must the reader work to piece the
- Are the sentences "periodic," i.e., constructed in such as
way that the reader/hearer is left in suspense until the end of
- How are clauses arranged according to rhythm and
- Has the author placed the longest clauses last?
- Does the author show concern for the rhythm of phrases,
especially the last phrase of each sentence (clausula)?
- Does the author use pairs, tricola, or other numbers of
- To what extent does the author use parallelism in arranging
- Word order
- How are words, phrases, and clauses arranged for
emphasis? Remember that the first and last positions in the
sentence are most emphatic.
- What other effects has the author produced through
manipulation of the order of words (e.g., juxtaposition of
contrasting words, hyperbaton, chiasmus)?
- Does the passage provide echoes of previous authors
in diction or phraseology? Do these echoes seem to be deliberate
- Has the author said only what is necessary to make his point
(brevitas), or are unnecessary words, phrases and sentences added
- Reported speech
- Which speeches in the passage are reported
indirectly, which directly?
- To what extent are the syntax and diction of the speeches
manipulated to characterize speakers?
- Aside from reported speeches, does the author provide the
perspective of anyone besides himself (e.g., through descriptions
- Does the author use any rhetorical tropes (e.g., anaphora,
apostrophe, asyndeton, zeugma)?
V. What is the effect of all this?
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