Prosographia is a forme of speech by which as well the
very person of a man as of a fained, is by his form, stature, maners,
studies, doings, affections, and such other circumstances serving to
the purpose so described, that it may appeare a plaine and lively
picture painted in tables, and set before the eies of the hearer. The
circumstances by which such descriptions be made are many, ye tthe
most principal and most usuall are these, parentage, nation, countrey,
kind, age, education, discipline, habite of body, fortune, condition,
nature of mind, studie, former deedes, apparell, & c. By these and
such like circumstances the whole man is lively painted and portraited
as wel his mind as his body, and as aswel his qualities as his
quantity: as for example, we may by the circumstances of age describe
an old man
The description of old age.
manner, “with crooked limmes, and trembling jointes, his
head white, his eies hollow, his sight dimmes, his hearing thicke, his
handes shaking, his legges bowing, his colour pale, his skin wrinkled,
weake of memory childish yet covetous, suspicious, testy, greedy of
newes, credulous, misliking of the present world, and praising the
former times” Eccles. 12.
: also by this form
great persons are described, as emperours, princes, bishops, noble
captains, holy patriarks, grave judges, & great authors. By this
figure Cicero painteth out Ebucius, and against Verres, he describeth
Theomastus, in his oration for Roscius, Chrisogomus, and in his
Quintius he painteth out
Nevius with Quintius by an Antithesis. The desciption of
fained persons doth properly belong to poets, & is seldom or never
used of orators: by this figure diverse historiographers do most
lively describe noble captains, Kinges & Emperours to looke upon.
The use of this figure.
This figure pertaineth to many purposes, as to praise, to dispraise, to delight, and to engrave in perpetuall memory,
descriptions of great persons.
The chiefest regard herein ought to be concerning the aptnes
and truth of the circumstances.