How to Write an Encomium
- Pick an object. Ideally, it should be something that you have really strong positive feelings for – a romantic partner is the obvious option, but you can also write an encomium to a parent, a leader, a city you especially love, even a pet! Also, don’t overlook the option of writing about something you don’t have strong feelings for – or even something you really hate. It’s a great exercise to try and get into the mindset of a different person and write what they would say. Do you think you would have enough imagination and writing skill to craft an encomium to Hitler or Charles Manson?
- Choose the most important points of praise. Your encomium should focus its attention on a few key points. Don’t just write a laundry list of good things! Pick a few and really dig into their details.
- Use elevated language. Encomia are not restrained or realistic. You’re allowed to overstate things quite a bit – there’s no limit to how highly you can praise your object!
- Practice literary devices. Because the encomium is supposed to have such elevated language, it should pack in as many literary devices as possible: look into such techniques as metaphor, simile, meter, hyperbole (§6), and epic.
When to Use Encomium
Encomium is an appropriate subject for poetry, especially if you have some strong feelings of praise that you want to express. It can also make for a great speech. It’s important to remember, though, that an encomium is not an argument! You’re not trying to debate someone who disagrees with you – you’re just expressing your own feelings. As a result, it’s a pretty biased form of writing and not really appropriate for a formal essay. In a formal essay, you should make argumentative points from a more neutral stance, and try to convince someone of your point of view. Remember: encomia express while essays argue.