Tertium comparationis

The Tertium comparationis means a conceptuality from rhetoric. Tertium comparationis is the common of several objects, which are compared by means of the comparison. For when something is compared, the respective comparison objects must have a feature that both have. Otherwise the comparison would be empty. Empty comparisons are typical of nonsense poetry.

The term is derived from the Latin and is roughly the third of the comparison. According to the translation, the third element of a comparison [which connects the two comparative objects] is the fundamental point. Let’s look at an example.

Magdalena is as beautiful as Rebekka.
In the example above, the female persons Magdalena and Rebekka are compared. This can be seen in the signal word Wie. Of all its possible qualities, it is the beauty that connects them in comparison. Beautiful is therefore the Tertium comparationis.

The two comparison objects are similar. However, this does not have to be the case. Rather, alien objects can be compared with each other if they resemble one quality, but not exactly the same. Thus, the Tertium comparationis may be the only parallel between the opposing objects. Let us look at an example.

Woman is the nigger of the world.
Translation: The woman is the negro of the world
John Lennon, a musician who became famous through the Beatles, is credited with the aphorism. In this example, the Tertium comparationis is not directly named. The recipient (reader, listener) of the statement must open it independently, so that the sentence makes sense at all.

The saying points to the fact that negroes (deprecated and deprecating for people with dark skin color) had a severe stand in American society. Women are so called the Negroes of the world, so they have poorer chances and a difficult situation all over the world. The Tertium comparationis, which combines the words, is thus the bad treatment.

My dog ​​is a veritable whirlwind
In this example too, the Tertium comparationis is not directly named, but must be independently developed by the receiver. In this case, the dog and the whirlwind are compared and the properties of the second word are thus transferred to the first. A whirlwind is unpredictable and powerful. The adjectives are therefore the connecting Tertium comparationis of the two relations.

Note: In all examples, the Tertium comparationis is the element from which the comparison of several objects is based. Basically there are such comparisons in all genera of literature. It is noticeable, however, that the Tertium comparationis is rather implicitly named in poetry (lyric) and thus is not actually in the text. It is typical for comparisons and metaphors.

Tertium comparationis in the parable
A comparative moment, of course, does not always consist of a single word, but can quite describe a complex fact. This is the case, for example, in the parable, which consists of a complex comparison. Nevertheless, there is only one point of comparison.

The theologian Adolf Jülich suggested that the parable should be regarded as a construct of two halves. Thus it consists of one half of the body and one half of the figure. The material half is what is actually shown in the parable. So what is happening, and thus the situation itself. The half of the picture is what we interpret from it (see Allegorese). According to Jülich, there is a point of comparison between the factual and the pictorial half

Parable of the Prodigal Son (Folds at Click!)
References to the parable
Overview: Significance, characteristics and the most important
The Tertium comparationis is a concept of rhetoric. This describes the so-called reference point. When two objects are compared, their similarities are compared. This commonality is what is meant.
Such a point of comparison can be named either explicitly or only implicitly. Above all in lyric poetry, comparisons and metaphors are often used, which do not directly refer to the point of comparison and therefore call it implicit. This must then be determined by the receiver itself. This is usually done through interpretation.

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