What is Encomium: Definition, Features and Examples

Encomium is a formal eulogy in prose or verse glorifying people, objects, ideas, or events. Originally it was a Greek choral song in celebration of a hero, sung at the komos or triumphal procession at the end of the Olympic games.

The Greek writers Simonides of Ceos and Pindar wrote some of the earliest encomiastic odes praising the winners. Many English poets have produced encomiastic verse:

  • John Milton’s Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity (1629);
  • John Dryden’s Song for St Cecilia’s Day (1687);
  • Thomas Gray’s Hymn to Adversity (1742);
  • William Wordsworth’s Ode to Duty (1805).

Encomium can also be the vehicle of irony as Desiderius Erasmus demonstrated in Moriae Encomium “The Praise of Folly”(1509), a satire directed against the follies of theologians and churchmen.

A curiosity in this genre is the Panegyric Latini, a collection of encomia on Roman emperors dating from 289 to 389.

Also read: Black comedy or Dark comedy

Also read: Definition of Epyllion: Its characteristics and Examples