English Department | University of Texas | Arlington

“Seeds and Roots”: Hiddenness and Hendiadys Abstract

In this essay, I investigate a particularly early modern example of hendiadys: “the seeds and roots of…,” a phrase that appears in Shakespeare’s Pericles and found in multiple texts of the period. I suggest that the spatially proximate positioning of both the root and the germinating seed below or near the base of a vegetal body, essentially hidden from human vision, gave rise to this now obscure rhetorical expression that blended these two vegetal parts into one as a compounded metaphor for origin. Draw upon new materialist frameworks, particularly the concepts of “veering ecology” and “storied matter,” I argue that this hendiadysical expression contains a material trace of the morphological identity of plant life, in the relation of parts to the whole, in addition to its figurative and seemingly overdetermined rhetorical functioning.