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The apophthegm ( Greek ἀπόφθεγμα from ἀποφθέγγομαι apophthengomai , German , speak, preach, hold a (inspired) Speech ' ; plural Apophthegmata , rare apophthegms ) is the Greek and modern literary term for an in prose held maxim or aptly formulated statement , whose original The occasion and its spokesperson are also mentioned. An apophthegma is therefore divided into two parts; on the one hand it names the situation reference or occasion ( occasio ) and on the other hand it brings the utterance made in this context ( sententia ).

This can include, among other things, sentences , aphorisms and winged words - provided that the specific speech situation, the context of which the respective utterance owes, is also mentioned. The apophthegma differs from the epigram in its prosaic form.

The origin of the generic story lies in the Apophthegmata that in Plutarch Moralia are included. Example from Plutarch : "When Archelaus was asked by a talkative hairdresser how he should cut his hair, Archelaus replied: 'Silent'."

See also


  • Gisbert Ter-Nedden : Printed sayings. Media-technical reflections on proverb, apophthegma and aphorism. In: Media and Machines. Literature in the technical age. Edited by Theo Elm , Hans H. Hiebel . Rombach, Freiburg 1991, pp. 93-106.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Theodor Verweyen , Gunther Witting: Apophthegma. In: Reallexikon der Deutschen Literaturwissenschaft. Revision of the real dictionary of German literary history . Edited by Klaus Weimar a . a. Volume 1. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1997, pp. 106-108.
  2. a b Volker Meid : Apophthegma. In: Subject dictionary on German literature. Reclam, Stuttgart 1999, p. 36.