Prosopopoeia: (1) A synonym for personification. (2) A figure of speech (more specifically a trope) in which an absent, dead, or imaginary person is given voice, typically through another person. In “Autobiography as De-Facement” (1979), deconstructive theorist Paul de Man defined prosopopoeia as “the fiction of an apostrophe to an absent, deceased, or voiceless entity, which posits the possibility of the latter’s reply and confers upon it the power of speech.”

EXAMPLE: Jonathan Edwards’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (1741) provides an example of prosopopoeia in its second sense, as it exhorts listeners to heed the voices of the damned in hell: “If it were so that we could come to speak with them, … we, doubtless, should hear one and another reply, ’No, I never intended to come here: … I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpectedly; … it came as a thief; death outwitted me.’”