A rhetorical stylistic means, which is mainly used in the drama but is also found in lyric poetry, is described as an antilabe. The Antilabe describes the fact that a single verse, which is metric or in content, belongs to two or more figures. These fragments are usually not independent sentences, but word sequences.
The term is derived from the Greek (ἀντιλαβή) and can be translated with objection, resistance or even Haltegriff. The translation therefore refers only indirectly to what is actually the matter: namely, that several figures perform a dialogue, whereby the individual words intermesh and function like a haltegriff or an objection. Let’s look at an example.
M: The mothers are it!
M: Do you shudder?
The above example is a dialogue from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust and includes a word battle between Mephistopheles and Faust. This excerpt was chosen because, on the one hand, he elucidates the stylistic means of the antilabel and, on the other hand, is often cited for it, although it is not properly explained.
What is crucial here is that the split verse is actually a blank verse. This means that it is formed from a five-legged yambian, has changing cadences, and has a free caesura. This blank verse, which consequently belongs together metrically, that is, by the elevations and inclinations, was divided between Mephistopheles and Faust, and consequently becomes an antilib. Another example.
B: Peace then. No words.
C: I’ll rather kill myself.
B: Peace then. No words.
C: I will not kill myself.
This example is also taken from a dialog. Brutus and Clitus speak from Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar. In this case, too, the related drama line was divided into several speakers, also in this case the whole is to be called a blank verse. Thus a high dynamization and dramatization of the figural speech is made possible, since the rhythm is not broken.
Overview: Importance, characteristics and effect of the application
The Antilabe is a concept from rhetoric and a form of Stichomythie. It describes the fact that a speech verse is divided into several speakers. This can be seen in the fact that the parts of the speech are rhythmically connected. This can be done at a content level, and moreover, the individual elements usually correspond to a known verse form (e.g., blank verse).
The change between the speakers is carried out from verse to verse, whereby the speech portion of the individual figures is mostly elliptical, that is, composed of incomplete sentences. This may cause the speed, and thus the speech speed, to be increased. The Antilabe is therefore frequently used, if hectic and a dynamic is to be shown.
In the dramatic text, the stylistic device is often illustrated by indentations, as can be seen in the examples above. Thus the reader knows that the speech verse is divided between the speakers and the rhythmic structure is not broken off