Some examples of antonomasia from poems are the use of “Man of Pain” as a substitute for the name Odysseus in “The Odyssey” and Roman poet Ovid referring to Rome as “The Eternal City.” More often found in older poems, antonomasia substitutes a thematically-related phrase for a proper name.
Readers can expect to find examples of antonomasia in translations of ancient Greek and Roman poetry. In the Iliad, for instance, readers understand that “the son of Peleus” always refers to Achilles. In fact, use of antonomasia in poetry was fairly common through the 19th century. Antonomasia offered poets an option for adding variety to their phrasing by avoiding using the same name over and over. Only sometimes is antonomasia used to conceal identity by avoiding use of a person’s name. It’s also sometimes used as a kind of shorthand, as when identifying William Shakespeare as “The Bard of Avon.”
Once considered a tool of the skilled poet but now out of fashion, antonomasia is not common in contemporary poetry. It’s more common to find examples in advertising and public relations. In the music industry, for example, the King of Pop” is Michael Jackson, while “The King” is still Elvis Presley, and Aretha Franklin is the “Queen of Soul.”