Definition - A rhetorical figure in which a number of propositions or ideas are set forth so as to form a series in which each rises above the preceding in force or effectiveness of expression (OED).

Example -
"There are three things that will endure: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Etymology -
The word derives from one that means "ladder" in Greek.

Oxford English Dictionary -
"A figure which by his Greeke and Latine originals may be called the marching figure;it may aswell be called the clyming figure, for Clymax is as much to say as a ladder."
(Puttenham Eng. Poesie iii. xix. (Arb.) 217)

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