As an epilogue, the libel or the post-play in the drama as well as the epilogue or the conclusion in the literature and the rhetoric is called. The epilogue usually contains thoughts or themes about the work, which were not sufficiently illuminated in this work. It can contain an interpretation and an explanation of what has been read and seen, and reminds the recipient (the viewer, the reader) and encourages them to think. In addition, epilogues can offer space for the personal dedication of the author, which is common in prose works and especially in novels (see literary genres).
The term can be derived from the Greek (επίλογος ~ epílogos) and translate it with libel and afterword. The translation therefore refers to what is at stake: a form of utterance according to the actual work [which comments or evaluates the event in any way).
Note: In the following, we will discuss the different forms of the epilogue. The final word of the speech begins, after which the afterword of the literary work is discussed and then the dramatic statement is considered and explained.
Epilogue in speech: Peroration
The so-called Peroration can be regarded as the epilogue of a speech. The Peroration is the end of the speech, summarizing the main aspects and highlights of what has been said before. Often the peroration, when it turns to the spectator, is exaggerated solemnly.
The Peroration therefore had two tasks: on the one hand, the most important thing should be bundled and possibly declared (recapitulatio) for the viewer and, on the other hand, the feelings and emotions of the listeners should be addressed (affectus). Among the Greeks this part was called epilogos.
A well-known example of such a charged conclusion can be found in a speech by Marcus Antonius Orator, a Roman politician and orator of antiquity who defended the judge Gaius Aquilius Gallus. In order to achieve a charged effect, Aquilius tore the tunic from his body and presented the war. Thus he underlined his own words effectively, which is the task of peroration.
Epilogue in the literature
The epilogue for a literary work is also referred to as an afterword, a slander or a final word. Usually it is at the end of a work, but it is also possible to concentrate important thoughts after each chapter and give suggestions for the interpretation of the text.
Usually such an epilogue contains the dedication of the author (cf. dedication) and, in some cases, a thanksgiving, or it includes thoughts as well as facts in order to explain the past, or gives the reader some hints on the interpretation and the understanding of the text. The counterpart to the literary epilogue is the so-called prologue, which is preceded by the respective text.
In many episcopal epics of the Middle Ages the personal address of the reader can be found in the epilogue, or the thanksgiving to a patron or benefactor of the work. Furthermore, the epilogue can reflect the morality of the text and prepare it for the reader (“The Moral of History …”).
Epilogue in the drama
In dramatic works, the epilogue is also referred to as “Nachspiel”. This is outside the actual action and thus takes place after the drama. Here as well, the whole has an explanatory function and serves to explain the drama or to encourage applause.
In the drama it is usually a figure, but sometimes also two, who shape the epilogue. In the tragedy we find serious characters and in comic dramas rather funny figures. These hold a conclusion, which is addressed to the viewer and has different functions.
It is either an allegorical interpretation of what has been seen or a clear interpretation of the work (see allegory). Such a speech also has the task of establishing a direct connection with the public and was introduced by Plautus (254 BC – 184 BC), an antique comedic poet.
This form of the epilogue was used especially in the 16th and 17th centuries, when the new drama was stuck in children’s shoes in Europe. We find such play-backs in various forms with the English dramatist William Shakespeare. However, it was customary until the 19th century, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe also painted some of his works.
It was either the request for applause or forbearance, the announcement of further ideas, and, of course, the invitation to appear to them, thanksgiving to the patrons and the audience as well as the request for the benevolence of the criticism or the explanation of the play and its interpretation History of salvation (rather in the Middle Ages). Let us look at an example from the Summer Nightmare (1595).
If we shadows you offended,
O so believe – and probably defended
Are we then – you all almost
Have only slumbered here
And looked at night faces
Your own humming poetry.
If you want this childhood,
The empty dreams faded,
Dear Lord, do not even mock,
You will soon see what you see.
If we are evil snake
So promised on honor Droll
Soon our thanks to you;
If a rogue is willing to be hot,
If this does not happen, how cheap.
Now good night! The game ended,
Greet us with our hands! (From.)
The example shows the words of the elf Puck (here Droll), which end the end of the Shakespearian comedy. It is obvious that Puck asks for the favor and forbearance of the audience, says good-bye to the spectator and names the end of the performance, with the spoken being outside the actual dramatic treatment. The excerpt is thus clearly to be identified as a dramatic epilogue.
Brief overview: The meaning and characteristics of the epilogue
As an epilogue, basically three different things are called. Either the narration in a drama, the epilogue of a literary work or the peroration in rhetoric.
Nevertheless, all three elements have in common that they recite and summarize or explain what has been said, written or shown to the recipient (reader, listener).