Encomion is a forme of speech by which the Orator doth highly commend to his hearers, some person or thing in respect of their worthy deserts & vertues, Cicero: For if Cn. Pompey had beene 500. yeares ago, such a man he was of whom being a yoong man and a Romane knight, ye Senat might oftentimes have required aid & defence, woose noble actes with a most renowned vitory both by land & sea had spred over all nations whose three honourable triumphs are witnesses, that all the world was in our government and dominion, whom the people of Rome had commended with singular honors, now if you should say that he hath done something against ye leasgue of peace, who wil beleeve you? truly no man, for when death had quenched envy, his noble acts should have flourished in glory of an eternall renowne: whose vertues being bruted, should have given no place to doubts: and shall the friendly, approved, and perfect vertue of this man be hurt by the false report of backbiters?
By this figure we praise princes for their wisdom, religion, justice,
mercy, clemency, providence, blessed government, liberality and such like. Judges for their wisedome feare of God, learning,
care of equitie, for regarding the cause without respecting the person for their vigilancy, constancie, and gravitie. The divine Pastor, for his learning, gravitie, good life, apt gifts of teaching, care of his flocke, constancie in the truth, and charitie towards al men. Captaines for their experience, providence, fidelitie, for their courage and fortitude in fight, and for their modestie and mercie in victorie.
The use of this figure.
This forme of speech serveth to support and encrease vertue by giving due praise and commendation to it. For by this exornation, good deserts, and worthie vertues, are rewarded with the sweete fruthes of their owne seede, and crowned with the garlandes of their owne flowers, that is to saie, with large fame, high honour, and immortal renowne and glorie.
For this the only forme of speech, which beth speaketh while the vertuous man doth live, and also liveth when the vertuous man is dead. What shall I say? it is his plausus, his garland, his coate, his colour, and his ingraven Epitaph.
In praising and commending there are three most necessarie pointes to be diligently observed: The first is, that the praises be not too small for great and worthie vertues.
The second ye they be not too great for meane desertes, and too high for base persons.
The third that they be not perversely applied, that is to say, where rebuke and shame is rather due.