Corpses Come to Life! And Stimulate the Economy!
Thursday, July 28, 2005 at 08:50AM

lucille-ball.jpgQuote:  "In its latest 2005 Dead Q tallies, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope and John Wayne top the list of the public’s favorite dead celebrities."  Article in

Term: Prosopopoeia (pro so po PEE uh), the dead-celeb technique

In ancient Greece and Rome, students conducted regular exercises in which they imitated great historical characters to develop their oratorical skills.  The prosopopoeia was also one of the more popular oratorical techniques in ancient times. It’s trickier today.  Imitating John F. Kennedy doesn’t guarantee election, as John F. Kerry discovered. We’ve grown to love our dead celebrities more than our dead leaders. 

What’s more, technological advances allow marketers to resurrect the deceased and give them a second life in the advertising industry.  The digital magic might startle ancient rhetoricians, but they’d be familiar with the theory behind it. Prosopopoeia falls under the rubric of Ethos, or argument by character. Advertisers transfer the Ethos, or character, of a popular guy onto the merchandise, and voila! An outdoor grill takes on the lovable persona of an aging prizefighter.

Snappy Answer:  "Does a corpse make a soda taste better?"

Article originally appeared on Figures of Speech (
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