Definition of exemplum in English:



  • An example or model, especially a story told to illustrate a moral point.

    • ‘Kent examines popular works read by Florentines of all social levels, including vernacular scrapbooks and miscellanies, poetry, devotional manuals and moral exempla, civic traditions, histories, and ethnographies.’
    • ‘He had left his church, spoken of Jesus as a human role model, and used biblical history and Christian dogmas simply as figures of speech, supportive exempla in his powerful rhetoric against the dead incarnations of past spirit.’
    • ‘Consequently, the exempla in this section illustrate the kind of balanced prudence encouraged by Raison and Christine: the definitive ideal is the prudent woman depicted in Proverbs 31.’
    • ‘Macbeth lives as an exemplum of the perverted hero, because of Shakespeare's ability to give life to every stage of his disastrous career.’
    • ‘In keeping with his preface to the story, Dioneo's summing up seems deliberately to discourage any reading of the story as an exemplum, much less as a model for relationships between men and women.’
    • ‘Whereas the Stewart children had few pictorial precedents on the matter of negative exempla, a bounty of pictures represented choices being made.’
    • ‘Early practitioners of preaching distinguished between verba - the words that directly defined doctrinal points - and exempla, which illustrated them.’
    • ‘The mock-heroic story is full of rhetoric and exempla, and it is one of the most admired of the Tales, regarded as the most typically ‘Chaucerian’ in tone and content.’
    • ‘The Policraticus became widely known as its many moralizing stories proved a popular source for the teaching exempla cited by friars in their sermons.’
    • ‘This man is a positive exemplum: goodhearted, worthy, beloved, and a vital part of his community.’
    • ‘The poetic inscriptions on the bases of the sculptures by Donatello, which distinguish the figures as exempla by invoking spectators' attention to their feats, may be inspired by that precedent.’
    • ‘Moreover, the way that the myths are modified over time also quite plainly reveals that their protagonists were regarded as exempla, that is, embodiments of traditional virtues.’
    • ‘A sermon exemplum from the mid-thirteenth century provides a revealing glimpse of the active role sculptures were expected to play as vehicles of identification and empathetic response.’
    • ‘The odor of public corruption that surrounded the Gasthuis land affair lent it particular force as a moral exemplum.’
    • ‘For centuries past, preachers had used exempla - fables, proverbs, anecdotes - to make the principles that infused their sermons both easier understood and more attractive to their parishioners.’
    • ‘Finally, although delivery once again receives professional attention in the form of elocution, it continues to be seen as auxiliary to rhetoric and is propped up with a multitude of literary exempla.’
    • ‘For instance, the longest exemplum in this section is that of St. Christine, the author's patron saint.’
    • ‘In such sermons, biblical passages and exempla were carefully selected for their ability to prompt quick identification and subsequent self-reflection o n the part of the given audience.’
    • ‘Commonplace books could be repositories for meticulously copied out poems, proverbs, and moral exempla; they could also permit a large degree of freedom in both the choice of material transcribed and in the way in which it was recorded.’
    • ‘The visitor was squarely confronted with exempla of Christian faith and practice as manifested in devotional works of both East and West.’
    allegory, moral story, moral tale, fable, lesson
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