(also called Asteismus)


E. W. Bullinger

Addition by graceful disclosure of what is professedly concealed.
As-te-is’-mos. Greek, ἀστεϊσμός, clever talk, from ἀστεῖος asteios), of the city, polite, from ἄστυ (astu), city.

The figure is used when, by pretending to conceal something, the speaker adds some graceful language which discloses it. It comes in here when it is used as an addition by way of reasoning. We have included it also in Figures involving change, where the application of words is affected by way of feeling.
(See below).

From “Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible” by E. W. Bullinger,
(Public Domain) page 488. Adapted for website compatibility.
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Henry Peachum


From: The Garden of Eloquence (1593).
Henry Peachum.
Delmar, New York 12054.
Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, Inc. 1977.

Asteisimus, in Latine Urbanitas, is a wittie jesting in civill maner, and gracing of speech with some merie conceipt: it is usually taken for any mirth or pleasant speech which is voyd of rusticall simplicitie & rudenesse, and the merie & pleasant sayings of this figure are called facetiae that is to say, the pleasures and delights of speech: which are taken


from diverse places, but chiefly from these, from Equivocation, as when a word having two significations, is expressed in the one, and understood in the other, either contrary, or at least much differing, which as it is most wittie, so is it most pleasant. Secondly the occasion of mirth may be taken from a fallace in sophistrie

2.Secundum quid, ad dictum simpliciter.

called Secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter, that is, when a saying is captiously taken, and turned to another sense, contrary or much differing from the meaning of the speaker, as in this example: To one demanding of Diogenes what he would take for

Diogenes answer.

a knocke upon his pate, he made this answer, that he would take an helmet. Now he that made the demand, meant, what hire, and not what defence. To one that said, he knew not if he should be put out of his house where to hid his head: another made him answer, that he might hide it in his cap.
There are many and sundry other places from whence wittie mirth may be fitty taken, as from pleasant imitation of mens speech and fashions, from similitudes and comparisons, from pleasant reports of merrie actions and accidents, and from anie moe which I shall not here meede to rehearse. Now for to give to every particular place an example, it would be too tedious, and peradventure to some offensive. He that desireth further examples of this figure, let him reade Facetias Brusonii, Poggii, Bebelii, and Apophthegmata Erasmi Roterodami, Licosthenis, and other moe authors handling the like argument.

The use of this figure.

The use hereof is pleasant and commendable, especially among good wittes, and men of merrie and delightful natures, but yet more meete for private companie, then publike orations, if it be discreetly used with the due observation of circumstances, as place, time, persons, causes, and occasions, it ministreth grace, and pleasure, and mirth to the hearer, wherby the time is pleasantly passed, and the dull and wearisome minds of men are much refreshed.

The Caution.

Heede in the use of this figure ought to be taken, that it offend not against charitie, chastitie, nor pietie. It offendeth

1.Against charitie.

against charitie, when the mirth toucheth some person to his griefe or shame, whereby he is moved to take it in evill part. It

2.Against Chastitie.

offendeth against chastity, when the testing consisteth of unchast speech, or containeth uncchast significations, which albeit it may move laughter, yet it offendeth modest and chast minds: it committeth a great offence against pietie, when the occasion of mirth & laughter is taken from ye abuse of reverend matters, as the holy

3.Against pietie.

scriptures, the judgements of God, magistrates, parents, & such like, or when sport is made at the miseries and calamities of men: by all which abuses Almightie God is provoked to displeasure and wrath, which in justice is wont to revenge al insolency & impietie.


Johann Albrecht Bengel

Gnomon Of The New Testament”,
VOL. V  Index of technical terms, page 395    
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ASTEISMUS, language that is ἀστεῖος is clever, pleasant, witty (urbane) language, combined with suavity or force; e.g.— “ The familiar Epistle to Philemon is marvelously ἀστεῖος. There is complaisance (lepos, graceful pleasantry) in it, mixed with gravity.” The Gnom. on Philem. 1:9. As the two Epistles to the Corinthians, so especially the passage 1 Cor. 4:8, has in it incomparable ASTEISMUS.— See also Matt. 6:34; 2 Cor. 12:13, εἰ μὴ ὅτι αὐτὸς ἐγὼ οὐ κατενάρκησα ὑμῶν; χαρίσασθέ μοι τὴν ἀδικίαν ταύτην.
A striking Asteismus.—

2 Pet. 2:11,
Ἄγγελοι ἰσχύϊ καὶ δυνάμει μείζονες ὄντες. An impressive Asteismus. Comp. Gnom.

Gnomon Of The New Testament
VOL. III. Pg. 226       Stream         Download

1 Corinthian 4:8 (
Ἤδη , now), in comparison with us. The words without us, which immediately after occur, agree with this. — κεκορεσμένοι, full. A gradation [ascending climax]: full, rich, kings. Its opposite is, we hunger, etc., verse 11, 12. As the two epistles to the Corinthians exhibit great variety in mental feeling [ἦθος, Append.], incomparable urbanity [asteismus, Append.], and abundant and playful acuteness, so the passage before us is to such a degree remarkable for these qualities, that it should be understood, in respect either of the Corinthians or of the apostles, concerning their internal or external condition, concerning the facts themselves or concerning the puffed-up opinion of the Corinthians. The spiritual condition of the Corinthians was truly flourishing—flourishing also was that of the apostles. This was right: but troubles [the cross] from without galled the apostles and prevented them from pleasing themselves on that account: the Corinthians, inasmuch as being in a flourishing state even in things external, were pleased with and were applauding themselves, which was wrong. Therefore, the  Corinthians were imitating the conduct of sons, who, after they have become illustrious, care little for their humble parents: in consequence of fulness, they were fastidious; of opulence, they were insolent; of kingly power, they were proud.—
χωρὶς ἡμῶν, (without us) A new and apt ambiguity; you have not us as your partners, consequently you have not had us as your assistants; you have forgotten us, as the saying expresses it, “ many pupils become superior to their teachers,”τολλοὶ μαθηταὶ 
κρείττονες διδασκάλον.-ἐ
βασιλεύσατε , ye have reigned (ye have come to your kingdom). In this is implied the majesty of Christians. — καὶ ὄφελόν γε, and I wish) i.e. I do not envy you, my only desire is, that it may really promote your best interests,
Cor. 12:14,15 )( ἵνα καὶ ἡμεῖςthat we also).
When you shall be perfected, the apostles will enjoy ease, and reach the end of all their troubles. (
συμβασιλεύσωμεν, we might reign together). This is modestly said: with you; comp. 9:23, 3:22.
VOL. III. Pg 439 “Gnomon Of The New Testament” 


2 Cor.12:13  τί, ( what) This word refers both to the antecedents and the consequents. — λοιπὰς, other churches) planted either by me or by the other apostles. — εἰ μὴ- ταύτην, unless—this) a striking Asteismus [instance of refined pleasantry]. — αὐτὸς, (I myself) The antithesis follows, nor by others, ver. 16, 17. I did not burden you myself, nor make a gain of you by those others whom I sent, Titus, etc.— ἀδικίαν, wrong) The apostle might rightly [as opposed to ἀδικίαν] have accepted his maintenance from the Corinthians, and when he did not avail himself of this right, he imputes it to himself, as a wrong; and he gives it this name, not in the way of irony, with which the language of the apostle is inconsistent, but in the way of amphibology, for he uses ἀδικίαν in this passage, in a very unusual sense, which may be expressed in Latin by non-jus, and it has a in the privative sense, as, ἄνομος, ἀνόμως, are sometimes used [without law; not contrary to law], Rom. 2:12; 1 Cor. 9:21:ἀνυπότακτον [not subjectedinstead of insubordinate], Heb. 2:8: and yet it admits at the same time the idea of injustice, deprecating thereby all suspicion of want of love to the Corinthians
[in his not accepting maintenance from them]; forgive me, comp.11:11


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