The epiphany, also Epiphora, is a stylistic medium which encounters us in texts of all kinds and literary genre. The epipher is the single or multiple repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive sentences or verses. Their stylistic counterpart is the anaphor, which means a repetition at the beginning of successive verses and sentences.
The name of the stylistic figure is derived from the Greek (ἐπιφορά ~ epiphorá) and can be translated with the addition or addition. This translation already shows what is at stake: the repeated addition of words [at the end of a verse]. Let’s look at an example.
Sir Mortimer, you do not surprise me, do not frighten me
I had long since been prepared for such a message. I know my judges.
These lines are taken from the drama Maria Stuart by Friedrich Schiller and come from a dialogue between Mortimer and Maria. For us the first part of Maria’s answer is decisive here. According to Mortimers, the group of words is not repeated twice. This is what we call Epipher.
If we are dealing here with a doubling, there are, of course, examples of lyricism in the lyric, which strongly place the styling in the foreground. This allows the epiphers to rhythmize a text and direct the focus to a particular content. Let us look at an example of August von Platen.
Storm and nuisance never meet
Thou art the cleverest, never shittest;
Whoever is afraid of the wine in fear,
never drinks the poison.
because you are never a coward to the sword
Are not you hieroglyphic? Good!
You never decipher your script.
This stanza is interesting from Platen’s collected works and for two reasons. Here, on the one hand, we find the epiphars in Verse 1,2,4,6 and 8, whereby the adverb is never strongly pushed into the foreground. On the other hand, this effect is amplified by the hyperbaton, by deviating from the usual sentence position. The work is bumpy, but the focus is never more.
Note: The two Epipher examples have something in common: they amplify the respective statement enormously. Maria does not repeat the word; in Platen’s work it is never the word. In both cases, therefore, a word pushes into the foreground. The epipher is thus used to amplify a statement.
Examples of the Epipher
A style figure is, of course, illustrated by examples from the literature. For this reason, we would like to introduce some examples of the Epiphora.
O mother! What is bliss?
O mother! What is hell?
With him, with him is bliss!
And without Wilhelm hell!
The verses are from the Ballad Leonore by Gottfried August Bürger. Citizens are regarded as one of the most important representatives of the literature epoch of Sturm und Drang, and most of them have become well-known through his tales about the liebaron Münchhausen.
There are two epipers in the selected section. A repeated in verses 1 and 2 the words is bliss and the other in verse 2 and 4 the word hell. By the additional use of the anapher, which repeats the exclamation (exclamation) O mother, an intensifying effect is achieved here as well.
He who has created seven times,
Live in seven paradises seven times;
Eagle, seven times you circle the rock,
Creep, brook, through the meadows seven times;
Fire stokes on the stem of the cedar, and its fragrance
Wind as smoke around the giant seven times;
Take the two cups, take both,
Fill me and these seven times;
Seven times your curl is beautifully divided,
Let your curl be praised seven times!
This stanza was taken from the collected works August von Platens, just like a previous example. Here we find an epipher in the constant repetition of the word seven times, which ends in six of the ten verses. Again, a gain is achieved.
But all desire wants eternity, wants deep, profound eternity! (Friedrich Nietzsche)
And only for you, forever and you, forever and you. (Rio Reiser)
Signs are language, life is language, is language (word growth)
All three examples reinforce what is said by the epiphora and rhythmize the text. The second set of examples (Rio Reiser) is taken from the song Forever and You, which finds its own rhythm almost exclusively by means of epipers and puts you in the foreground.
Effect and function of the epiphysis
Of course, it is difficult to attribute a unique function or effect to a style figure. If we do this, we run the risk of breaking the stylistic device down to this effect, and not to see whether it is something else.
However, the use of a stylistic means of course always has an effect on the recipient of this linguistic utterance (reader, viewer) and we can of course describe it. It is important in any case to look at the analysis and interpretation of whether something else is caused by the figure.
Overview of the effect and function of the Epipher
The epiphany belongs to the figures of the word repetition. These stylistic figures have in common that the frequent repetition of a linguistic utterance reinforces the statement and the focus of the recipient (reader) is directed to this utterance.
This effect is, of course, stronger, the more frequently the corresponding section is repeated. The polysyndeton also has a similar effect, a conjunction being repeated.
The stylistic counterpart of the epiphanies is the anaphor. Here we find a repetition at the beginning of verses or sentences. The two stylists are called Symploke.