As many scholars, including the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, continue to cite false etymologies of the baroque, this article returns to a Scholastic syllogism called baroco to demonstrate the relevance of medieval logic to the history of aesthetics. The syllogism is connected to early modern art forms that Enlightenment critics considered excessively complicated or absurdly confusing. Focusing on the emergence of baroque logic in Neo-Latin rhetoric and English poetics, this article traces the development of increasingly outlandish rhetorical practices of copia during the sixteenth century that led to similarly far-fetched poetic practices during the seventeenth century. John Stockwood’s Progymnasma scholasticum (1597) is read alongside Richard Crashaw’s Epigrammatum sacrorum liber (1634) and Steps to the Temple (1646) to reveal the effects of Erasmian rhetorical exercises on English educational practices and the production of English baroque poetry. In the end, the article demonstrates the conceptual unity of the baroque by showing the consistency between critiques of baroco, critiques of English metaphysical poetry, and critiques of baroque art during the Enlightenment.

You do not currently have access to this content.