As Symploke, also Complexio, is a rhetorical stylistic device, which is used mainly in lyric poetry. The Symploke describes the simultaneous occurrence of Epiph and Anapher. This means that one word is repeated at the beginning, another at the end of several successive sentences or verses. In many examples, this is a sequence of questions that start with the same question pronoun and receive the same answer.
The term can be derived from the Greek (συμπλοκή) and translated with braid. The Latin counterpart of the stylistic figure is the Complexio, more rarely Completio. Complexio could be translated as completion with interlacing and completio. The first-mentioned translations show what is involved with this stylistic device: the interlacing by repetition. Let’s look at an example:
What is Thoren’s highest good? Money!
What is tempting even the wise? Money!
What cries the whole world? Money!
The above example illustrates the principle of the figure. Each verse starts with the question pronouns What and ends with the noun money. The repetitive naming of the word What at the beginning of the verse can be called an anaphor. The repetition of money is an epipher. Since both figures appear simultaneously within the stanza, the whole thing is considered as a Symploke. Another example:
All give the gods, the infinite,
All pleasures, the infinite,
All pain, the infinite, whole.
In the literature, however, there are not only examples that perfectly reproduce the scheme. For example, the gods from the pen of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe can also find a connection from Anapher and Epipher. By the repetition of all in the third and fourth verses, as well as the beginning, there is also a polyptoton, the last two lines also being a parallelism.
The parallel position is typical of the stylistic means, although there are, of course, exceptions. However, by the same words at the beginning and the end, a similar structure results logically. This type of repetition can have a reinforcing and memorable effect on the recipient (reader, listener), which is why the figure has also found its way into the advertisement. For example, Maoam was advertised as:
The short promotional clip advertises the Kaubonbon Maoam from the confectionery company Haribo. The first two questions of the referee and the audience’s answers are interesting, because they are similar to the first example. This is what the clip says: “Do you want to extend? No! / Do you want to shoot? No! […] “. The two sentences are, on the one hand, a parallelism and can, on the other hand, be identified by the same word sequence at the beginning and the same word at the end as Symploke.
Short overview: The most important thing about the Stilfigur at a glance
The Symploke is a rhetorical stylistic device. It means a connection from Anapher and Epipher. This means that one word is repeated at the beginning, another at the end of several successive sentences or verses. Often, the elements of Symploke are parallel, that is, identical to the syntax. In addition, the figure is frequently determined by questions.
The effect of stylistic means is often a reinforcement of what has been said, since the attention of the addressee (reader, listener, spectator) is aroused by the constant repetition of the introduction and the conclusion. Furthermore, this repetition can make a section particularly catchy or powerful.