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Part One An Explanation Marie Nelson in her article The Rhetoric of the Exeter Book Riddles inspired me to the idea of conducting a literary experiment Nelson says The Exeter Book riddlers wrote enigmatic definitions and then adds much of the skill that they exhibited in their double task of revealing and concealing may have been derived from their knowledge of classical rhetoric Nelson 424 I intend first to lay the groundwork of rhetoric as Nelson similarly did in her article and then apply the various devices and concepts to one of the Exeter Book Riddles I hope to ascertain whether or not Nelsons theory that much of the skill the riddlers exhibited in their double task of revealing and concealing may have been derived from their knowledge of classical rhetoric 424 To begin I will list the rhetorical devices Nelson uses and paraphrase general definitions of these devices Alliteration- the use of words in a series with the same or a similar beginning Anaphora- repetition of the same word at the beginnings of successive phrases clauses or sentences Antithesis- to make a contrasting relationship between two ideas Assonance- similar vowels sounds occurring in successive or proximate words Asyndeton- the omitting of conjunctions in order to make seem less premeditated Homoeoptoton- the use of a series of words in the same case or with the same inflection Homoeoteleuton- the use of a series of words with the same or a similar ending Onomatopoeia- the use of a word in which pronunciation suggests meaning Periphrasis- circumlocution using a roundabout way of defining Prosopopoeia- using an imaginary or absent person as the speaker Zeguma- the grammatically correct linage of two or more parts of speech by another ie one subject with two verbs Nelson also discusses a few concepts which do
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