Lucian’s Hippias provides an exemplary case of a detailed architectural ecphrasis of a Roman bathhouse. By resorting to a wide range of enargeic devices, Lucian frames the primary sense experience of the bath in a way that aims at actively engaging the sensory apparatus of the
reader. This poikilotropic writing style (diversity of enargeic devices) reflects the architectural poikilia (multifariousness) of the building itself and creates a ‘bodily-felt’ readerly experience of the marvellous.
The aim of this paper is threefold. First, to identify and classify the various enargeic devices that Lucian uses to re-create the texture of the marvellous of Hippias’ architecture and, through a close examination of their functionality, to analyse how each of these devices shape and inform the reader’s perceptual experience of the bathhouse.
Second, to consider how by re-creating the viewer’s immersive experience of architecture, the Hippias tests the appropriateness of thaumazein in Imperial culture (cf. Lucian’s De Domo; see Hunzinger 2015: 422-37): is an educated man (πεπαιδευμένος ἀνήρ) expected to develop an exclusively intellectualized appreciation of art/architecture that excludes the possibility of a more direct engagement with artefacts/architectural spaces from an aesthetic angle or is there something in Lucian’s conjuring of the experience of art/architecture that suggests otherwise?
Third, to show that by developing a vocabulary of conceptual frameworks that match the various aspects of the sensorium evoked in the Hippias, we as readers, have at our disposal a methodological tool which can help us reframe questions regarding the nature of
(architectural) ecphrasis beyond the traditional interpretative framework of the paragonal image/text theory.