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Zeugma And Friends

A zeugma is a figure of speech describing the joining of two or more parts of a sentence with a common verb or noun. A zeugma employs both ellipsis, the omission of words which are easily understood, and parallelism, the balance of several words or phrases. The result is a series of similar phrases joined or yoked together by a common and implied noun or verb.

The prozeugma is a zeugma where a verb in the first part of a sentence governs several later clauses in series:
  • She conquered shame with passion, fear with audacity, reason with madness.
Cicero, Pro Cluentio.
  • Povertie hath gotten conquest of thy riches, shame of thy pride, danger of thy safetie, folly of thy wisedome, weakenesse of thy strength, and time of thy imagined immortalitie.
Henry Peacham.

The mesozeugma is a zeugma where a verb in the middle of the sentence governs several parallel clauses on either side:
  • Both determination and virtue will prevail; both dedication and honour, diligence and commitment.
  • What a shame is this, that neither hope of reward, nor feare of reproch could any thing move him, neither the perswasion of his friends, nor the love of his countrey.
Henry Peacham.
The hypozeugma is a zeugma where a verb falls at the end of a sentence and governs several parallel clauses that precede it:
  • Either with disease or age, physical beauty fades.
  • Through rain or sleet or dark of night, the mail must get through.
Motto of the United States Postal Service.
  • Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar.

Following a hypozeugma with a prozeugma can create a chiasmus:
  • The foundation of freedom and the fountain of equity is preserved by laws. Our lawless acts destroy our wealth and threaten our custody of life.

The diazeugma is a zeugma where a noun governs two or more verbs:
  • The Roman people destroyed Numantia, razed Carthage, demolished Corinth, and overthrew Fregella.
  • Physical beauty: with disease it fades; with age it dies.
  • Stands accused, threatens our homes, revels in his crime, this man guilty of burglary asks for our forgiveness.
  • Despairing in the heat and in the sun, we marched, cursing in the rain and in the cold.

The hypozeuxis is the opposite of a zeugma, where each subject has its own verb:
  • The parents scowled, the girls cried, and the boys jeered while the clown stood confused.
  • We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!
Winston Churchill.
  • Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

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