Abstract This article considers the difficulties faced by Quintilian in classifying and understanding apostrophe. He treats it as both a figure of thought, with examples from oratory, and a figure of speech, with examples from Virgilin which the narrator addresses characters of the poem. By inserting the otherwise unobtrusive narrator into the narrative, the effect of the Virgilian examples is to collapse the distinction between narration and narrative. Since Quintilian does not have this means of linguistic analysis at his disposal, he defines apostrophe as a figure of speech by bringing it into relation with other figures that also produce an effect of rupture at the level of narration, and he uses other oppositions that offer an imperfect treatment of the problem.
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