THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ANTICLIMAX (i.e. the opposite to “climax”), in rhetoric, an abrupt declension (either deliberate or unintended) on the part of a speaker or writer from the dignity of idea which he appeared to be aiming at; as in the following well-known distich:—

“The great Dalhousie, he, the god of war,

Lieutenant-colonel to the earl of Mar.”

An anticlimax can be intentionally employed only for a jocular or satiric purpose. It frequently partakes of the nature of antithesis, as—

“Die and endow a college or a cat.”

It is often difficult to distinguish between “anticlimax” and “bathos”; but the former is more decidedly a relative term. A whole speech may never rise above the level of bathos; but a climax of greater or less elevation is the necessary antecedent of an anticlimax.


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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