The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Specht, Henrik. "'Ethopoeia' or Impersonation: A Neglected Species of Medieval Characterization." 21 (1986): 1-15.
By understanding ethopoeia or adlocutio, scholars gain greater comprehension of character portrayal in medieval literature. Generally, ethopoeia suspends the narrative in order that protagonists might reveal their thoughts in a formal style. Classical rhetoricians, such as Horace in his Ars poetica and Hermogenes in his Progymnasmata, taught that decorum must be observed when inserting such a moment into the text. Twelfth- and thirteenth-century rhetoricians taught that this device could be used both for giving personality to a character and for personifying inanimate objects. Chaucer borrows from this tradition in the Legend of Good Women when presenting Medea and Dido. He employs this device to a greater extent in Troilus and Criseyde when Criseyde leaves Troilus for Diomede.