Quote: “You do not want to see Her Majesty breakdancing or bathing in a vat of asses’ milk.” William Feaver, referring to a new photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, in Time.
Figure of Speech: ecphrasis (EC-phra-sis), the figure of special effects. From the Greek, meaning “speak out.”
Annie Leibovitz ‘s portrait of the Queen sitting primly in a drawing room, fully clothed, is a departure from the photographer’s creative and often unflattering work.
British writer William Feaver thinks a traditional approach is a good idea when the Queen is your subject; but he blithely violates his own rule with vivid pictures of royal randomness. He’s using an ecphrasis, a figure that compactly infuses an argument with enargeia, producing images before the audience’s very eyes. They stay in your head, however unwelcome, like an ad jingle.
The ecphrasis often refers to a famous quotation or image from history, by the way. Cleopatra was said to bathe in ass’s milk. It makes one’s skin smooth and creamy, and presumably makes it easier to tolerate the asses in one’s own royal family.
Snappy Answer: “Ick.”