Vol. XXXII (LXXXVIII). Barbara Niebelska-Rajca, "Enargeia” and "Energeia” in Renaissance and Baroque Literary Criticism, Warszawa, 2012

The Greek concepts enargeia and energeia are constitutive elements both in ancient and early modern rhetorics and in Renaissance and Baroque literary criticism. Despite of the wide use of both terms it is difficult to extract a stable definition of enargeia and energeia from their early modern interpretations. Sixteenth and seventeenth century theoreticians who adapted the terms from classic rhetoric provided conventional explanations but identified enargeia with energeia and used the terms almost interchangeably. This book is an attempt to deal with the Renaissance and Baroque history of enargeia and energeia. The central issue is the reception in sixteenth and seventeenth century Western European and Polish poetics as well as in treatises on rhetoric and literature. The analysis of these theoretical texts proves that the Greek terms and their Latin equivalents (evidentia and efficacia) were treated by early modern critics as indispensable virtues of style.
      The evolution and the transformations of both concepts were determined by tendencies in the theory of mimetic arts. In early modern critical writings the concepts enargeia and energeia were closely linked to the idea of literary pictorialism and to the postulates of visualization and vividness. Both terms were used in the same contexts. Renaissance and Baroque literary theory consistently refers to the commentaries on enargeia and energeia by Aristotle, Demetrius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Pseudo Longinos, and to the Latin ideas of evidentia and demonstratio in the writings of Cicero and Quintilian. Sixteenth and seven¬teenth century literary criticism was mostly inspired by the Aristotelian theory of the active metaphor with its central ideas “bringing-before-the-eyes” and energeia, by Demetrius’ postulates of enargeia and akribologia and by Latin requirements of visualization and vivid description. The juxtaposition of the classical texts and their early modern interpretations reveals both the profound influence of the classical heritage and, in some cases, inaccurate use of the terminology; Torquato Tasso as well as various Polish Renaissance authors associate visual description with the Greek term energeia (instead of enargeia).
      The main reason for the erroneous use (in the light of the classical sources) of enargeia and energeia is the misunderstanding of Aristotelian theory of energeia and “bringing-before-the-eyes” (Rhetoric 1411 b 24 – 1412 a 10). Some of the sixteenth century editions of Aristotle’s Rhetoric and contemporary commentaries (e.g. by Johannes Sturm, Lodovico Castelvetro, Alessandro Piccolomini, Francesco Patrizi) reveal that the early modern reception of enargeia and energeia was, to some extend, determined by philological misapprehensions.
In the majority of interpretations, the concept of enargeia and the suggestiveness of the verbal image are distinctive features of the so called poetic of presence, whereas the energeia serves to illustrate the idea of liveliness. Both concepts are repeatedly used as arguments in late Renaissance discussions of the classic doctrine of mimesis (G. Mazzoni, F. Patrizi), of vividness and acuity of style (G. Giraldi Cinzio, J.C. Scaliger, J. Górski, M.K. Sarbiewski, G. Puttenham), of emotional appeal and of suggestiveness of pictorial representation. They occur also in disputes about imitation and translation (J. Du Bellay, T. Sébillet, J. Januszowski). The continued presence of both terms in Baroque literary theory, particularly in the works of Emanuele Tesauro, shows the timeliness of the ideas. Special emphasis is given to energeia as the main virtue of dynamic metaphors. Seventeenth century theoreticians adjust energeia and enargeia to the poetics of conceit and to the aesthetics of the marvelous and astonishment.