Meaning of Epithet - encyclopedia - 2023



What is Epithet:

An epithet is a adjective that expresses a quality of the noun to which it is associated. It is used to characterize or qualify someone or something, adding or highlighting some of its characteristics. The word, as such, comes from Latin epithĕton, and this in turn comes from the Greek ἐπίθετον (epitheton), which means 'of more', 'added'.

Epithets are used to refer to people, divinities, historical figures, kings, saints, military, warriors. In such cases, it tends to follow the name. For example, Bolívar “the Liberator” to refer to Simón Bolívar, Alfonso “the Wise” in allusion to Alfonso X of Castile, Juana “la Loca” in reference to Juana of Castile, Alexander “Magno” to refer to Alexander III of Macedonia , etc.

The literature He also uses epithets to highlight some of the qualities or characteristics of a character. Homeric epithets are famous, such as Achilles, the one with light feet, or Ulysses, fertile in tricks.

See also Literary Figures.

Epithet in rhetoric

In rhetoric, the epithet is a qualifying adjective that indicates a natural or characteristic quality of the name it accompanies. For example, ‘blue’ is the epithet for “blue sky”, ‘cold’ is the epithet for “cold snow”. In this sense, it can be used either to highlight intrinsic characteristics of the noun, or to accentuate its character and produce a certain aesthetic effect.

Types of epithets

There are different types of epithets, depending on their objective or subjective quality:

  • Typifying epithets, which attribute to the name a quality that it possesses. For example: "arid fields".
  • Metaphorical epithets, are those who build a metaphor: "crystalline brake", to refer to the slowness of the waters (Góngora).
  • Emphatic epithets, are those who seek to underline a characteristic: "My country turned into a base branch of raw materials."
  • Appositive epithets, are those that are placed between commas: "The hard, sad, gloomy city."
  • Surrealist or visionary epithets, are those who postulate a surreal image: "Incandescent tears".
  • Homeric epithets, are those that are used in the ancient Greek epics of Homer complementing the proper names: "Athena, the one with the bright eyes."
  • Epic epithetsare the ones used in epic novels alternating with the name of the character or accompanying him: "Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the good Campeador" (in Cantar del Mío Cid).
  • Appreciative epithets, express positive qualities that are subjective: "What tasty food!"
  • Pejorative epithets, express negative qualities that are subjective: "I don't want to see that nosy woman again."

Epithet in biology

The epithet in biology defines the species or subspecies, following the name of the genus.When it refers to the species, it is a specific epithet. For example, Passiflora incarnata, where incarnate is the epithet of Passiflora. Also the Passiflora alata, in what alata is the epithet. In zoology, the epithet also designates the species of an animal.