A panegyric is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from Greek meaning a speech "fit for a general assembly" ("panegyris"). In Athens such speeches were delivered at national festivals or games, with the object of rousing the citizens to emulate the glorious deeds of their ancestors.

The most famous are the "Olympiacus" of Gorgias, the "Olympiacus" of Lysias, and the "Panegyricus" and "Panathenaicus" (neither of them, however, actually delivered) of Isocrates. Funeral orations, such as the famous speech put into the mouth of Pericles by Thucydides, also partook of the nature of panegyrics.

The Romans confined the panegyric to the living, and reserved the funeral oration exclusively for the dead. The most celebrated example of a Latin panegyric is that delivered by the younger Pliny (AD 100) in the senate on the occasion of his assumption of the consulship, containing a somewhat fulsome eulogy of Trajan.

Towards the end of the 3rd and during the 4th century, as a result of the orientalizing of the Imperial court by Diocletian, it became customary to celebrate as a matter of course the superhuman virtues and achievements of the reigning emperor, in a formally staged literary event. The well-delivered, elegant and witty panegyric was a vehicle for an educated but inexperienced young man to attract desirable attention in a competitive sphere. The poet Claudian came to Rome from Alexandria before about 395 and made his first reputation with a panegyric; he became court poet to Stilicho.

Cassiodorus the courtier and "magister" of Theodoric the Great and his successors, left a book of panegyrics, his "Laudes". As his biographer O'Donnell has said of the genre "It was to be expected that the praise contained in the speech would be excessive; the intellectual point of the exercise (and very likely an important criterion in judging it) was to see how excessive the praise could be made while remaining within boundaries of decorum and restraint, how much high praise could be made to seem the grudging testimony of simple honesty." ( [ O'Donnell 1979, ch. 2] ).

Qasida is panegyric poetry in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu.

A person who writes panegyrics is called a panegyrist. Another term is eulogist.



Further reading

*James J. O'Donnell, 1979. "Cassiodorus" (Berkeley: University of California Press)

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  • Panegyric — Pan e*gyr ic, n. [L. panegyricus, Gr. panhgyrico s: cf. F. pan[ e]gyrique. See {Panegyric}, a.] An oration or eulogy in praise of some person or achievement; a formal or elaborate encomium; a laudatory discourse; laudation. See Synonym of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Panegyric — Pan e*gyr ic, Panegyrical Pan e*gyr ic*al, a. [L. panegyricus, Gr. panhgyrico s, from panh gyris an assembly of the people, a high festival; pa^, pa^n all + a gyris, agora , an assembly.] Containing praise or eulogy; encomiastic; laudatory.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • panegyric — index mention (tribute) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • panegyric — (n.) c.1600, eulogy, laudation, from Fr. panégyrique (1510s), from L. panegyricus public eulogy, originally an adjective, from Gk. panegyrikos (logos) (a speech) given in a public assembly, from panegyris public assembly in honor of a god, from… …   Etymology dictionary

  • panegyric — tribute, eulogy, *encomium, citation Analogous words: commendation, applauding or applause, complimenting or compliment (see corresponding verbs at COMMEND): acclaiming or acclaim, laudation, praising or praise, extolling or extollation (see… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • panegyric — ► NOUN ▪ a speech or text in praise of someone or something. DERIVATIVES panegyrical adjective. ORIGIN from Greek pan gurikos of public assembly …   English terms dictionary

  • panegyric — [pan΄ə jir′ik, pan΄əjī′rik] n. [Fr panégyrique < L panegyricus < Gr panēgyris, public meeting < pan, all (see PAN ) + ageirein, to bring together] 1. a formal speech or piece of writing praising a person or event 2. high or hyperbolic… …   English World dictionary

  • panegyric — panegyrical, adj. panegyrically, adv. /pan i jir ik, juy rik/, n. 1. a lofty oration or writing in praise of a person or thing; eulogy. 2. formal or elaborate praise. [1590 1600; < L, n. use of panegyricus of, belonging to a public assembly < Gk… …   Universalium

  • panegyric — n. to deliver a panegyric * * * [ˌpænɪ dʒɪrɪk] to deliver a panegyric …   Combinatory dictionary

  • panegyric — [[t]pæ̱nɪʤɪ̱rɪk[/t]] panegyrics N COUNT A panegyric is a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something. [FORMAL] ...Prince Charles s panegyric on rural living. Syn: eulogy …   English dictionary

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