Translated byW. Rhys Roberts

Book III


In making a speech one must study three points: first, the means of producing persuasion; second, the style, or language, to be used; third, the proper arrangement of the various parts of the speech. We have already specified the sources of persuasion. We have shown that these are three in number; what they are; and why there are only these three: for we have shown that persuasion must in every case be effected either (1) by working on the emotions of the judges themselves, (2) by giving them the right impression of the speakers’ character, or (3) by proving the truth of the statements made.

Enthymemes also have been described, and the sources from which they should be derived; there being both special and general lines of argument for enthymemes.

Our next subject will be the style of expression. For it is not enough to know what we ought to say; we must also say it as we ought; much help is thus afforded towards producing the right impression of a speech. The first question to receive attention was naturally the one that comes first naturally-how persuasion can be produced from the facts themselves. The second is how to set these facts out in language. A third would be the proper method of delivery; this is a thing that affects the success of a speech greatly; but hitherto the subject has been neglected. Indeed, it was long before it found a way into the arts of tragic drama and epic recitation: at first poets acted their tragedies themselves. It is plain that delivery has just as much to do with oratory as with poetry. (In connexion with poetry, it has been studied by Glaucon of Teos among others.) It is, essentially, a matter of the right management of the voice to express the various emotions-of speaking loudly, softly, or between the two; of high, low, or intermediate pitch; of the various rhythms that suit various subjects. These are the three things-volume of sound, modulation of pitch, and rhythm-that a speaker bears in mind. It is those who do bear them in mind who usually win prizes in the dramatic contests; and just as in drama the actors now count for more than the poets, so it is in the contests of public life, owing to the defects of our political institutions. No systematic treatise upon the rules of delivery has yet been composed; indeed, even the study of language made no progress till late in the day. Besides, delivery is-very properly-not regarded as an elevated subject of inquiry. Still, the whole business of rhetoric being concerned with appearances, we must pay attention to the subject of delivery, unworthy though it is, because we cannot do without it. The right thing in speaking really is that we should be satisfied not to annoy our hearers, without trying to delight them: we ought in fairness to fight our case with no help beyond the bare facts: nothing, therefore, should matter except the proof of those facts. Still, as has been already said, other things affect the result considerably, owing to the defects of our hearers. The arts of language cannot help having a small but real importance, whatever it is we have to expound to others: the way in which a thing is said does affect its intelligibility. Not, however, so much importance as people think. All such arts are fanciful and meant to charm the hearer. Nobody uses fine language when teaching geometry.

When the principles of delivery have been worked out, they will produce the same effect as on the stage. But only very slight attempts to deal with them have been made and by a few people, as by Thrasymachus in his ‘Appeals to Pity’. Dramatic ability is a natural gift, and can hardly be systematically taught. The principles of good diction can be so taught, and therefore we have men of ability in this direction too, who win prizes in their turn, as well as those speakers who excel in delivery-speeches of the written or literary kind owe more of their effect to their direction than to their thought.

It was naturally the poets who first set the movement going; for words represent things, and they had also the human voice at their disposal, which of all our organs can best represent other things. Thus the arts of recitation and acting were formed, and others as well. Now it was because poets seemed to win fame through their fine language when their thoughts were simple enough, that the language of oratorical prose at first took a poetical colour, e.g. that of Gorgias. Even now most uneducated people think that poetical language makes the finest discourses. That is not true: the language of prose is distinct from that of poetry. This is shown by the state of things to-day, when even the language of tragedy has altered its character. Just as iambics were adopted, instead of tetrameters, because they are the most prose-like of all metres, so tragedy has given up all those words, not used in ordinary talk, which decorated the early drama and are still used by the writers of hexameter poems. It is therefore ridiculous to imitate a poetical manner which the poets themselves have dropped; and it is now plain that we have not to treat in detail the whole question of style, but may confine ourselves to that part of it which concerns our present subject, rhetoric. The other—the poetical—part of it has been discussed in the treatise on the Art of Poetry.


We may, then, start from the observations there made, including the definition of style. Style to be good must be clear, as is proved by the fact that speech which fails to convey a plain meaning will fail to do just what speech has to do. It must also be appropriate, avoiding both meanness and undue elevation; poetical language is certainly free from meanness, but it is not appropriate to prose. Clearness is secured by using the words (nouns and verbs alike) that are current and ordinary. Freedom from meanness, and positive adornment too, are secured by using the other words mentioned in the Art of Poetry. Such variation from what is usual makes the language appear more stately. People do not feel towards strangers as they do towards their own countrymen, and the same thing is true of their feeling for language. It is therefore well to give to everyday speech an unfamiliar air: people like what strikes them, and are struck by what is out of the way. In verse such effects are common, and there they are fitting: the persons and things there spoken of are comparatively remote from ordinary life. In prose passages they are far less often fitting because the subject-matter is less exalted. Even in poetry, it is not quite appropriate that fine language should be used by a slave or a very young man, or about very trivial subjects: even in poetry the style, to be appropriate, must sometimes be toned down, though at other times heightened. We can now see that a writer must disguise his art and give the impression of speaking naturally and not artificially. Naturalness is persuasive, artificiality is the contrary; for our hearers are prejudiced and think we have some design against them, as if we were mixing their wines for them. It is like the difference between the quality of Theodorus’ voice and the voices of all other actors: his really seems to be that of the character who is speaking, theirs do not. We can hide our purpose successfully by taking the single words of our composition from the speech of ordinary life. This is done in poetry by Euripides, who was the first to show the way to his successors.

Language is composed of nouns and verbs. Nouns are of the various kinds considered in the treatise on Poetry. Strange words, compound words, and invented words must be used sparingly and on few occasions: on what occasions we shall state later. The reason for this restriction has been already indicated: they depart from what is suitable, in the direction of excess. In the language of prose, besides the regular and proper terms for things, metaphorical terms only can be used with advantage. This we gather from the fact that these two classes of terms, the proper or regular and the metaphorical-these and no others-are used by everybody in conversation. We can now see that a good writer can produce a style that is distinguished without being obtrusive, and is at the same time clear, thus satisfying our definition of good oratorical prose. Words of ambiguous meaning are chiefly useful to enable the sophist to mislead his hearers. Synonyms are useful to the poet, by which I mean words whose ordinary meaning is the same, e.g. ‘porheueseai’ (advancing) and ‘badizein’ (proceeding); these two are ordinary words and have the same meaning.

In the Art of Poetry, as we have already said, will be found definitions of these kinds of words; a classification of Metaphors; and mention of the fact that metaphor is of great value both in poetry and in prose. Prose-writers must, however, pay specially careful attention to metaphor, because their other resources are scantier than those of poets. Metaphor, moreover, gives style clearness, charm, and distinction as nothing else can: and it is not a thing whose use can be taught by one man to another. Metaphors, like epithets, must be fitting, which means that they must fairly correspond to the thing signified: failing this, their inappropriateness will be conspicuous: the want of harmony between two things is emphasized by their being placed side by side. It is like having to ask ourselves what dress will suit an old man; certainly not the crimson cloak that suits a young man. And if you wish to pay a compliment, you must take your metaphor from something better in the same line; if to disparage, from something worse. To illustrate my meaning: since opposites are in the same class, you do what I have suggested if you say that a man who begs ‘prays’, and a man who prays ‘begs’; for praying and begging are both varieties of asking. So Iphicrates called Callias a ‘mendicant priest’ instead of a ‘torch-bearer’, and Callias replied that Iphicrates must be uninitiated or he would have called him not a ‘mendicant priest’ but a ‘torch-bearer’. Both are religious titles, but one is honourable and the other is not. Again, somebody calls actors ‘hangers-on of Dionysus’, but they call themselves ‘artists’: each of these terms is a metaphor, the one intended to throw dirt at the actor, the other to dignify him. And pirates now call themselves ‘purveyors’. We can thus call a crime a mistake, or a mistake a crime. We can say that a thief ‘took’ a thing, or that he ‘plundered’ his victim. An expression like that of Euripides’ Telephus,

King of the oar, on Mysia’s coast he landed,

is inappropriate; the word ‘king’ goes beyond the dignity of the subject, and so the art is not concealed. A metaphor may be amiss because the very syllables of the words conveying it fail to indicate sweetness of vocal utterance. Thus Dionysius the Brazen in his elegies calls poetry ‘Calliope’s screech’. Poetry and screeching are both, to be sure, vocal utterances. But the metaphor is bad, because the sounds of ‘screeching’, unlike those of poetry, are discordant and unmeaning. Further, in using metaphors to give names to nameless things, we must draw them not from remote but from kindred and similar things, so that the kinship is clearly perceived as soon as the words are said. Thus in the celebrated riddle

I marked how a man glued bronze with fire to another man’s body,

the process is nameless; but both it and gluing are a kind of application, and that is why the application of the cupping-glass is here called a ‘gluing’. Good riddles do, in general, provide us with satisfactory metaphors: for metaphors imply riddles, and therefore a good riddle can furnish a good metaphor. Further, the materials of metaphors must be beautiful; and the beauty, like the ugliness, of all words may, as Licymnius says, lie in their sound or in their meaning. Further, there is a third consideration-one that upsets the fallacious argument of the sophist Bryson, that there is no such thing as foul language, because in whatever words you put a given thing your meaning is the same. This is untrue. One term may describe a thing more truly than another, may be more like it, and set it more intimately before our eyes. Besides, two different words will represent a thing in two different lights; so on this ground also one term must be held fairer or fouler than another. For both of two terms will indicate what is fair, or what is foul, but not simply their fairness or their foulness, or if so, at any rate not in an equal degree. The materials of metaphor must be beautiful to the ear, to the understanding, to the eye or some other physical sense. It is better, for instance, to say ‘rosy-fingered morn’, than ‘crimson-fingered’ or, worse still, ‘red-fingered morn’. The epithets that we apply, too, may have a bad and ugly aspect, as when Orestes is called a ‘mother-slayer’; or a better one, as when he is called his ‘father’s avenger’. Simonides, when the victor in the mule-race offered him a small fee, refused to write him an ode, because, he said, it was so unpleasant to write odes to half-asses: but on receiving an adequate fee, he wrote

Hail to you, daughters of storm-footed steeds?

though of course they were daughters of asses too. The same effect is attained by the use of diminutives, which make a bad thing less bad and a good thing less good. Take, for instance, the banter of Aristophanes in the Babylonians where he uses ‘goldlet’ for ‘gold’, ‘cloaklet’ for ‘cloak’, ‘scoffiet’ for ‘scoff, and ‘plaguelet’. But alike in using epithets and in using diminutives we must be wary and must observe the mean.


Bad taste in language may take any of four forms:

(1) The misuse of compound words. Lycophron, for instance, talks of the ‘many visaged heaven’ above the ‘giant-crested earth’, and again the ‘strait-pathed shore’; and Gorgias of the ‘pauper-poet flatterer’ and ‘oath-breaking and over-oath-keeping’. Alcidamas uses such expressions as ‘the soul filling with rage and face becoming flame-flushed’, and ‘he thought their enthusiasm would be issue-fraught’ and ‘issue-fraught he made the persuasion of his words’, and ‘sombre-hued is the floor of the sea’.The way all these words are compounded makes them, we feel, fit for verse only. This, then, is one form in which bad taste is shown.

(2) Another is the employment of strange words. For instance, Lycophron talks of ‘the prodigious Xerxes’ and ‘spoliative Sciron’; Alcidamas of ‘a toy for poetry’ and ‘the witlessness of nature’, and says ‘whetted with the unmitigated temper of his spirit’.

(3) A third form is the use of long, unseasonable, or frequent epithets. It is appropriate enough for a poet to talk of ‘white milk’, in prose such epithets are sometimes lacking in appropriateness or, when spread too thickly, plainly reveal the author turning his prose into poetry. Of course we must use some epithets, since they lift our style above the usual level and give it an air of distinction. But we must aim at the due mean, or the result will be worse than if we took no trouble at all; we shall get something actually bad instead of something merely not good. That is why the epithets of Alcidamas seem so tasteless; he does not use them as the seasoning of the meat, but as the meat itself, so numerous and swollen and aggressive are they. For instance, he does not say ‘sweat’, but ‘the moist sweat’; not ‘to the Isthmian games’, but ‘to the world-concourse of the Isthmian games’; not ‘laws’, but ‘the laws that are monarchs of states’; not ‘at a run’, but ‘his heart impelling him to speed of foot’; not ‘a school of the Muses’, but ‘Nature’s school of the Muses had he inherited’; and so ‘frowning care of heart’, and ‘achiever’ not of ‘popularity’ but of ‘universal popularity’, and ‘dispenser of pleasure to his audience’, and ‘he concealed it’ not ‘with boughs’ but ‘with boughs of the forest trees’, and ‘he clothed’ not ‘his body’ but ‘his body’s nakedness’, and ‘his soul’s desire was counter imitative’ (this’s at one and the same time a compound and an epithet, so that it seems a poet’s effort), and ‘so extravagant the excess of his wickedness’. We thus see how the inappropriateness of such poetical language imports absurdity and tastelessness into speeches, as well as the obscurity that comes from all this verbosity-for when the sense is plain, you only obscure and spoil its clearness by piling up words.

The ordinary use of compound words is where there is no term for a thing and some compound can be easily formed, like ‘pastime’ (chronotribein); but if this is much done, the prose character disappears entirely. We now see why the language of compounds is just the thing for writers of dithyrambs, who love sonorous noises; strange words for writers of epic poetry, which is a proud and stately affair; and metaphor for iambic verse, the metre which (as has been already’ said) is widely used to-day.

(4) There remains the fourth region in which bad taste may be shown, metaphor. Metaphors like other things may be inappropriate. Some are so because they are ridiculous; they are indeed used by comic as well as tragic poets. Others are too grand and theatrical; and these, if they are far-fetched, may also be obscure. For instance, Gorgias talks of ‘events that are green and full of sap’, and says ‘foul was the deed you sowed and evil the harvest you reaped’. That is too much like poetry. Alcidamas, again, called philosophy ‘a fortress that threatens the power of law’, and the Odyssey ‘a goodly looking-glass of human life’,’ talked about ‘offering no such toy to poetry’: all these expressions fail, for the reasons given, to carry the hearer with them. The address of Gorgias to the swallow, when she had let her droppings fall on him as she flew overhead, is in the best tragic manner. He said, ‘Nay, shame, O Philomela’. Considering her as a bird, you could not call her act shameful; considering her as a girl, you could; and so it was a good gibe to address her as what she was once and not as what she is.


The Simile also is a metaphor; the difference is but slight. When the poet says of Achilles that he

Leapt on the foe as a lion,

this is a simile; when he says of him ‘the lion leapt’, it is a metaphor-here, since both are courageous, he has transferred to Achilles the name of ‘lion’. Similes are useful in prose as well as in verse; but not often, since they are of the nature of poetry. They are to be employed just as metaphors are employed, since they are really the same thing except for the difference mentioned.

The following are examples of similes. said he was no more a rascal than was a certain respectable citizen he named, ‘whose rascality was worth over thirty per cent per annum to him, instead of a mere ten like his own’.There is also the iambic line of Anaxandrides about the way his daughters put off marrying—

My daughters’ marriage-bonds are overdue.

Polyeuctus said of a paralytic man named Speusippus that he could not keep quiet, ‘though fortune had fastened him in the pillory of disease’. Cephisodotus called warships ‘painted millstones’. Diogenes the Dog called taverns ‘the mess-rooms of Attica’. Aesion said that the Athenians had ‘emptied’ their town into Sicily: this is a graphic metaphor. ‘Till all Hellas shouted aloud’ may be regarded as a metaphor, and a graphic one again. Cephisodotus bade the Athenians take care not to hold too many ‘parades’. Isocrates used the same word of those who ‘parade at the national festivals.’ Another example occurs in the Funeral Speech: ‘It is fitting that Greece should cut off her hair beside the tomb of those who fell at Salamis, since her freedom and their valour are buried in the same grave.’ Even if the speaker here had only said that it was right to weep when valour was being buried in their grave, it would have been a metaphor, and a graphic one; but the coupling of ‘their valour’ and ‘her freedom’ presents a kind of antithesis as well. ‘The course of my words’, said Iphicrates, ‘lies straight through the middle of Chares’ deeds’: this is a proportional metaphor, and the phrase ‘straight through the middle’ makes it graphic. The expression ‘to call in one danger to rescue us from another’ is a graphic metaphor. Lycoleon said, defending Chabrias, ‘They did not respect even that bronze statue of his that intercedes for him yonder’.This was a metaphor for the moment, though it would not always apply; a vivid metaphor, however; Chabrias is in danger, and his statue intercedes for him-that lifeless yet living thing which records his services to his country. ‘Practising in every way littleness of mind’ is metaphorical, for practising a quality implies increasing it. So is ‘God kindled our reason to be a lamp within our soul’, for both reason and light reveal things. So is ‘we are not putting an end to our wars, but only postponing them’, for both literal postponement and the making of such a peace as this apply to future action. So is such a saying as ‘This treaty is a far nobler trophy than those we set up on fields of battle; they celebrate small gains and single successes; it celebrates our triumph in the war as a whole’; for both trophy and treaty are signs of victory. So is ‘A country pays a heavy reckoning in being condemned by the judgement of mankind’, for a reckoning is damage deservedly incurred.


It has already been mentioned that liveliness is got by using the proportional type of metaphor and being making (ie. making your hearers see things). We have still to explain what we mean by their ‘seeing things’, and what must be done to effect this. By ‘making them see things’ I mean using expressions that represent things as in a state of activity. Thus, to say that a good man is ‘four-square’ is certainly a metaphor; both the good man and the square are perfect; but the metaphor does not suggest activity. On the other hand, in the expression ‘with his vigour in full bloom’ there is a notion of activity; and so in ‘But you must roam as free as a sacred victim’; and in

Thereas up sprang the Hellenes to their feet,

where ‘up sprang’ gives us activity as well as metaphor, for it at once suggests swiftness. So with Homer’s common practice of giving metaphorical life to lifeless things: all such passages are distinguished by the effect of activity they convey. Thus,

Downward anon to the valley rebounded the boulder remorseless;


The (bitter) arrow flew;


Flying on eagerly;


Stuck in the earth, still panting to feed on the flesh of the heroes;


And the point of the spear in its fury drove

full through his breastbone.

In all these examples the things have the effect of being active because they are made into living beings; shameless behaviour and fury and so on are all forms of activity. And the poet has attached these ideas to the things by means of proportional metaphors: as the stone is to Sisyphus, so is the shameless man to his victim. In his famous similes, too, he treats inanimate things in the same way:

Curving and crested with white, host following

host without ceasing.

Here he represents everything as moving and living; and activity is movement.

Metaphors must be drawn, as has been said already, from things that are related to the original thing, and yet not obviously so related-just as in philosophy also an acute mind will perceive resemblances even in things far apart. Thus Archytas said that an arbitrator and an altar were the same, since the injured fly to both for refuge. Or you might say that an anchor and an overhead hook were the same, since both are in a way the same, only the one secures things from below and the other from above. And to speak of states as ‘levelled’ is to identify two widely different things, the equality of a physical surface and the equality of political powers.

Liveliness is specially conveyed by metaphor, and by the further power of surprising the hearer; because the hearer expected something different, his acquisition of the new idea impresses him all the more. His mind seems to say, ‘Yes, to be sure; I never thought of that’. The liveliness of epigrammatic remarks is due to the meaning not being just what the words say: as in the saying of Stesichorus that ‘the cicalas will chirp to themselves on the ground’. Well-constructed riddles are attractive for the same reason; a new idea is conveyed, and there is metaphorical expression. So with the ‘novelties’ of Theodorus. In these the thought is startling, and, as Theodorus puts it, does not fit in with the ideas you already have. They are like the burlesque words that one finds in the comic writers. The effect is produced even by jokes depending upon changes of the letters of a word; this too is a surprise. You find this in verse as well as in prose. The word which comes is not what the hearer imagined: thus

Onward he came, and his feet were shod with his-chilblains,

where one imagined the word would be ‘sandals’. But the point should be clear the moment the words are uttered. Jokes made by altering the letters of a word consist in meaning, not just what you say, but something that gives a twist to the word used; e.g. the remark of Theodorus about Nicon the harpist Thratt’ ei su (’you Thracian slavey’), where he pretends to mean Thratteis su (’you harpplayer’), and surprises us when we find he means something else. So you enjoy the point when you see it, though the remark will fall flat unless you are aware that Nicon is Thracian. Or again: Boulei auton persai. In both these cases the saying must fit the facts. This is also true of such lively remarks as the one to the effect that to the Athenians their empire (arche) of the sea was not the beginning (arche) of their troubles, since they gained by it. Or the opposite one of Isocrates, that their empire (arche) was the beginning (arche) of their troubles. Either way, the speaker says something unexpected, the soundness of which is thereupon recognized. There would be nothing clever is saying ‘empire is empire’. Isocrates means more than that, and uses the word with a new meaning. So too with the former saying, which denies that arche in one sense was arche in another sense. In all these jokes, whether a word is used in a second sense or metaphorically, the joke is good if it fits the facts. For instance, Anaschetos (proper name) ouk anaschetos: where you say that what is so-and-so in one sense is not so-and-so in another; well, if the man is unpleasant, the joke fits the facts. Again, take—

Thou must not be a stranger stranger than Thou should’st.

Do not the words ‘thou must not be’, &c., amount to saying that the stranger must not always be strange? Here again is the use of one word in different senses. Of the same kind also is the much-praised verse of Anaxandrides:

Death is most fit before you do

Deeds that would make death fit for you.

This amounts to saying ‘it is a fit thing to die when you are not fit to die’, or ‘it is a fit thing to die when death is not fit for you’, i.e. when death is not the fit return for what you are doing. The type of language employed-is the same in all these examples; but the more briefly and antithetically such sayings can be expressed, the more taking they are, for antithesis impresses the new idea more firmly and brevity more quickly. They should always have either some personal application or some merit of expression, if they are to be true without being commonplace-two requirements not always satisfied simultaneously. Thus ‘a man should die having done no wrong’ is true but dull: ‘the right man should marry the right woman’ is also true but dull. No, there must be both good qualities together, as in ‘it is fitting to die when you are not fit for death’. The more a saying has these qualitis, the livelier it appears: if, for instance, its wording is metaphorical, metaphorical in the right way, antithetical, and balanced, and at the same time it gives an idea of activity.

Successful similes also, as has been said above, are in a sense metaphors, since they always involve two relations like the proportional metaphor. Thus: a shield, we say, is the ‘drinking-bowl of Ares’, and a bow is the ‘chordless lyre’. This way of putting a metaphor is not ‘simple’, as it would be if we called the bow a lyre or the shield a drinking-bowl. There are ‘simple’ similes also: we may say that a flute-player is like a monkey, or that a short-sighted man’s eyes are like a lamp-flame with water dropping on it, since both eyes and flame keep winking. A simile succeeds best when it is a converted metaphor, for it is possible to say that a shield is like the drinking-bowl of Ares, or that a ruin is like a house in rags, and to say that Niceratus is like a Philoctetes stung by Pratys-the simile made by Thrasyniachus when he saw Niceratus, who had been beaten by Pratys in a recitation competition, still going about unkempt and unwashed. It is in these respects that poets fail worst when they fail, and succeed best when they succeed, i.e. when they give the resemblance pat, as in

Those legs of his curl just like parsley leaves;


Just like Philammon struggling with his punchball.

These are all similes; and that similes are metaphors has been stated often already.

Proverbs, again, are metaphors from one species to another. Suppose, for instance, a man to start some undertaking in hope of gain and then to lose by it later on, ‘Here we have once more the man of Carpathus and his hare’, says he. For both alike went through the said experience.

It has now been explained fairly completely how liveliness is secured and why it has the effect it has. Successful hyperboles are also metaphors, e.g. the one about the man with a black eye, ‘you would have thought he was a basket of mulberries’; here the ‘black eye’ is compared to a mulberry because of its colour, the exaggeration lying in the quantity of mulberries suggested. The phrase ‘like so-and-so’ may introduce a hyperbole under the form of a simile. Thus

Just like Philammon struggling with his punchball

is equivalent to ‘you would have thought he was Philammon struggling with his punchball’; and

Those legs of his curl just like parsley leaves

is equivalent to ‘his legs are so curly that you would have thought they were not legs but parsley leaves’. Hyperboles are for young men to use; they show vehemence of character; and this is why angry people use them more than other people.

Not though he gave me as much as the dust
or the sands of the sea...
But her, the daughter of Atreus’ son, I never will marry,
Nay, not though she were fairer than Aphrodite the Golden,
Defter of hand than Athene...

(The Attic orators are particularly fond of this method of speech.) Consequently it does not suit an elderly speaker.


It should be observed that each kind of rhetoric has its own appropriate style. The style of written prose is not that of spoken oratory, nor are those of political and forensic speaking the same. Both written and spoken have to be known. To know the latter is to know how to speak good Greek. To know the former means that you are not obliged, as otherwise you are, to hold your tongue when you wish to communicate something to the general public.

The written style is the more finished: the spoken better admits of dramatic delivery-like the kind of oratory that reflects character and the kind that reflects emotion. Hence actors look out for plays written in the latter style, and poets for actors competent to act in such plays. Yet poets whose plays are meant to be read are read and circulated: Chaeremon, for instance, who is as finished as a professional speech-writer; and Licymnius among the dithyrambic poets. Compared with those of others, the speeches of professional writers sound thin in actual contests. Those of the orators, on the other hand, are good to hear spoken, but look amateurish enough when they pass into the hands of a reader. This is just because they are so well suited for an actual tussle, and therefore contain many dramatic touches, which, being robbed of all dramatic rendering, fail to do their own proper work, and consequently look silly. Thus strings of unconnected words, and constant repetitions of words and phrases, are very properly condemned in written speeches: but not in spoken speeches-speakers use them freely, for they have a dramatic effect. In this repetition there must be variety of tone, paving the way, as it were, to dramatic effect; e.g. ‘This is the villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, who meant to betray you completely’. This is the sort of thing that Philemon the actor used to do in the Old Men’s Madness of Anaxandrides whenever he spoke the words ‘Rhadamanthus and Palamedes’, and also in the prologue to the Saints whenever he pronounced the pronoun ‘I’. If one does not deliver such things cleverly, it becomes a case of ‘the man who swallowed a poker’. So too with strings of unconnected words, e.g.’I came to him; I met him; I besought him’. Such passages must be acted, not delivered with the same quality and pitch of voice, as though they had only one idea in them. They have the further peculiarity of suggesting that a number of separate statements have been made in the time usually occupied by one. Just as the use of conjunctions makes many statements into a single one, so the omission of conjunctions acts in the reverse way and makes a single one into many. It thus makes everything more important: e.g. ‘I came to him; I talked to him; I entreated him’-what a lot of facts! the hearer thinks-’he paid no attention to anything I said’. This is the effect which Homer seeks when he writes,

Nireus likewise from Syme (three well-fashioned ships did bring),
Nireus, the son of Aglaia (and Charopus, bright-faced king),
Nireus, the comeliest man (of all that to Ilium’s strand).

If many things are said about a man, his name must be mentioned many times; and therefore people think that, if his name is mentioned many times, many things have been said about him. So that Homer, by means of this illusion, has made a great deal of though he has mentioned him only in this one passage, and has preserved his memory, though he nowhere says a word about him afterwards.

Now the style of oratory addressed to public assemblies is really just like scene-painting. The bigger the throng, the more distant is the point of view: so that, in the one and the other, high finish in detail is superfluous and seems better away. The forensic style is more highly finished; still more so is the style of language addressed to a single judge, with whom there is very little room for rhetorical artifices, since he can take the whole thing in better, and judge of what is to the point and what is not; the struggle is less intense and so the judgement is undisturbed. This is why the same speakers do not distinguish themselves in all these branches at once; high finish is wanted least where dramatic delivery is wanted most, and here the speaker must have a good voice, and above all, a strong one. It is ceremonial oratory that is most literary, for it is meant to be read; and next to it forensic oratory.

To analyse style still further, and add that it must be agreeable or magnificent, is useless; for why should it have these traits any more than ‘restraint’, ‘liberality’, or any other moral excellence? Obviously agreeableness will be produced by the qualities already mentioned, if our definition of excellence of style has been correct. For what other reason should style be ‘clear’, and ‘not mean’ but ‘appropriate’? If it is prolix, it is not clear; nor yet if it is curt. Plainly the middle way suits best. Again, style will be made agreeable by the elements mentioned, namely by a good blending of ordinary and unusual words, by the rhythm, and by-the persuasiveness that springs from appropriateness.

This concludes our discussion of style, both in its general aspects and in its special applications to the various branches of rhetoric. We have now to deal with Arrangement.


A speech has two parts. You must state your case, and you must prove it. You cannot either state your case and omit to prove it, or prove it without having first stated it; since any proof must be a proof of something, and the only use of a preliminary statement is the proof that follows it. Of these two parts the first part is called the Statement of the case, the second part the Argument, just as we distinguish between Enunciation and Demonstration. The current division is absurd. For ‘narration’ surely is part of a forensic speech only: how in a political speech or a speech of display can there be ‘narration’ in the technical sense? or a reply to a forensic opponent? or an epilogue in closely-reasoned speeches? Again, introduction, comparison of conflicting arguments, and recapitulation are only found in political speeches when there is a struggle between two policies. They may occur then; so may even accusation and defence, often enough; but they form no essential part of a political speech. Even forensic speeches do not always need epilogues; not, for instance, a short speech, nor one in which the facts are easy to remember, the effect of an epilogue being always a reduction in the apparent length. It follows, then, that the only necessary parts of a speech are the Statement and the Argument. These are the essential features of a speech; and it cannot in any case have more than Introduction, Statement, Argument, and Epilogue. ‘Refutation of the Opponent’ is part of the arguments: so is ‘Comparison’ of the opponent’s case with your own, for that process is a magnifying of your own case and therefore a part of the arguments, since one who does this proves something. The Introduction does nothing like this; nor does the Epilogue-it merely reminds us of what has been said already. If we make such distinctions we shall end, like Theodorus and his followers, by distinguishing ‘narration’ proper from ‘post-narration’ and ‘pre-narration’, and ‘refutation’ from ‘final refutation’. But we ought only to bring in a new name if it indicates a real species with distinct specific qualities; otherwise the practice is pointless and silly, like the way Licymnius invented names in his Art of Rhetoric-’Secundation’, ‘Divagation’, ‘Ramification’.


The Introduction is the beginning of a speech, corresponding to the prologue in poetry and the prelude in flute-music; they are all beginnings, paving the way, as it were, for what is to follow. The musical prelude resembles the introduction to speeches of display; as flute players play first some brilliant passage they know well and then fit it on to the opening notes of the piece itself, so in speeches of display the writer should proceed in the same way; he should begin with what best takes his fancy, and then strike up his theme and lead into it; which is indeed what is always done. (Take as an example the introduction to the Helen of Isocrates-there is nothing in common between the ‘eristics’ and Helen.) And here, even if you travel far from your subject, it is fitting, rather than that there should be sameness in the entire speech.

The usual subject for the introductions to speeches of display is some piece of praise or censure. Thus Gorgias writes in his Olympic Speech, ‘You deserve widespread admiration, men of Greece’, praising thus those who start,ed the festival gatherings.’ Isocrates, on the other hand, censures them for awarding distinctions to fine athletes but giving no prize for intellectual ability. Or one may begin with a piece of advice, thus: ‘We ought to honour good men and so I myself am praising Aristeides’ or ‘We ought to honour those who are unpopular but not bad men, men whose good qualities have never been noticed, like Alexander son of Priam.’ Here the orator gives advice. Or we may begin as speakers do in the law-courts; that is to say, with appeals to the audience to excuse us if our speech is about something paradoxical, difficult, or hackneyed; like Choerilus in the lines—

But now when allotment of all has been made...

Introductions to speeches of display, then, may be composed of some piece of praise or censure, of advice to do or not to do something, or of appeals to the audience; and you must choose between making these preliminary passages connected or disconnected with the speech itself.

Introductions to forensic speeches, it must be observed, have the same value as the prologues of dramas and the introductions to epic poems; the dithyrambic prelude resembling the introduction to a speech of display, as

For thee, and thy gilts, and thy battle-spoils....

In prologues, and in epic poetry, a foretaste of the theme is given, intended to inform the hearers of it in advance instead of keeping their minds in suspense. Anything vague puzzles them: so give them a grasp of the beginning, and they can hold fast to it and follow the argument. So we find—

Sing, O goddess of song, of the Wrath...

Tell me, O Muse, of the hero...

Lead me to tell a new tale, how there came great warfare to Europe

Out of the Asian land...

The tragic poets, too, let us know the pivot of their play; if not at the outset like Euripides, at least somewhere in the preface to a speech like Sophocles—

Polybus was my father...;

and so in Comedy. This, then, is the most essential function and distinctive property of the introduction, to show what the aim of the speech is; and therefore no introduction ought to be employed where the subject is not long or intricate.

The other kinds of introduction employed are remedial in purpose, and may be used in any type of speech. They are concerned with the speaker, the hearer, the subject, or the speaker’s opponent. Those concerned with the speaker himself or with his opponent are directed to removing or exciting prejudice. But whereas the defendant will begin by dealing with this sort of thing, the prosecutor will take quite another line and deal with such matters in the closing part of his speech. The reason for this is not far to seek. The defendant, when he is going to bring himself on the stage, must clear away any obstacles, and therefore must begin by removing any prejudice felt against him. But if you are to excite prejudice, you must do so at the close, so that the judges may more easily remember what you have said.

The appeal to the hearer aims at securing his goodwill, or at arousing his resentment, or sometimes at gaining his serious attention to the case, or even at distracting it-for gaining it is not always an advantage, and speakers will often for that reason try to make him laugh.

You may use any means you choose to make your hearer receptive; among others, giving him a good impression of your character, which always helps to secure his attention. He will be ready to attend to anything that touches himself and to anything that is important, surprising, or agreeable; and you should accordingly convey to him the impression that what you have to say is of this nature. If you wish to distract his attention, you should imply that the subject does not affect him, or is trivial or disagreeable. But observe, all this has nothing to do with the speech itself. It merely has to do with the weak-minded tendency of the hearer to listen to what is beside the point. Where this tendency is absent, no introduction wanted beyond a summary statement of your subject, to put a sort of head on the main body of your speech. Moreover, calls for attention, when required, may come equally well in any part of a speech; in fact, the beginning of it is just where there is least slackness of interest; it is therefore ridiculous to put this kind of thing at the beginning, when every one is listening with most attention. Choose therefore any point in the speech where such an appeal is needed, and then say ‘Now I beg you to note this point-it concerns you quite as much as myself’; or

I will tell you that whose like you have never yet

heard for terror, or for wonder. This is what Prodicus called ‘slipping in a bit of the fifty-drachma show-lecture for the audience whenever they began to nod’. It is plain that such introductions are addressed not to ideal hearers, but to hearers as we find them. The use of introductions to excite prejudice or to dispel misgivings is universal—

My lord, I will not say that eagerly...


Why all this preface?

Introductions are popular with those whose case is weak, or looks weak; it pays them to dwell on anything rather than the actual facts of it. That is why slaves, instead of answering the questions put to them, make indirect replies with long preambles. The means of exciting in your hearers goodwill and various other feelings of the same kind have already been described. The poet finely says May I find in Phaeacian hearts, at my coming, goodwill and compassion; and these are the two things we should aim at. In speeches of display we must make the hearer feel that the eulogy includes either himself or his family or his way of life or something or other of the kind. For it is true, as Socrates says in the Funeral Speech, that ‘the difficulty is not to praise the Athenians at Athens but at Sparta’.

The introductions of political oratory will be made out of the same materials as those of the forensic kind, though the nature of political oratory makes them very rare. The subject is known already, and therefore the facts of the case need no introduction; but you may have to say something on account of yourself or to your opponents; or those present may be inclined to treat the matter either more or less seriously than you wish them to. You may accordingly have to excite or dispel some prejudice, or to make the matter under discussion seem more or less important than before: for either of which purposes you will want an introduction. You may also want one to add elegance to your remarks, feeling that otherwise they will have a casual air, like Gorgias’ eulogy of the Eleans, in which, without any preliminary sparring or fencing, he begins straight off with ‘Happy city of Elis!’


In dealing with prejudice, one class of argument is that whereby you can dispel objectionable suppositions about yourself. It makes no practical difference whether such a supposition has been put into words or not, so that this distinction may be ignored. Another way is to meet any of the issues directly: to deny the alleged fact; or to say that you have done no harm, or none to him, or not as much as he says; or that you have done him no injustice, or not much; or that you have done nothing disgraceful, or nothing disgraceful enough to matter: these are the sort of questions on which the dispute hinges. Thus Iphicrates replying to Nausicrates, admitted that he had done the deed alleged, and that he had done Nausicrates harm, but not that he had done him wrong. Or you may admit the wrong, but balance it with other facts, and say that, if the deed harmed him, at any rate it was honourable; or that, if it gave him pain, at least it did him good; or something else like that. Another way is to allege that your action was due to mistake, or bad luck, or necessity as Sophocles said he was not trembling, as his traducer maintained, in order to make people think him an old man, but because he could not help it; he would rather not be eighty years old. You may balance your motive against your actual deed; saying, for instance, that you did not mean to injure him but to do so-and-so; that you did not do what you are falsely charged with doing-the damage was accidental-’I should indeed be a detestable person if I had deliberately intended this result.’ Another way is open when your calumniator, or any of his connexions, is or has been subject to the same grounds for suspicion. Yet another, when others are subject to the same grounds for suspicion but are admitted to be in fact innocent of the charge: e.g. ‘Must I be a profligate because I am well-groomed? Then so-and-so must be one too.’ Another, if other people have been calumniated by the same man or some one else, or, without being calumniated, have been suspected, like yourself now, and yet have been proved innocent. Another way is to return calumny for calumny and say, ‘It is monstrous to trust the man’s statements when you cannot trust the man himself.’ Another is when the question has been already decided. So with Euripides’ reply to Hygiaenon, who, in the action for an exchange of properties, accused him of impiety in having written a line encouraging perjury—

My tongue hath sworn: no oath is on my soul.

Euripides said that his opponent himself was guilty in bringing into the law-courts cases whose decision belonged to the Dionysiac contests. ‘If I have not already answered for my words there, I am ready to do so if you choose to prosecute me there.’ Another method is to denounce calumny, showing what an enormity it is, and in particular that it raises false issues, and that it means a lack of confidence in the merits of his case. The argument from evidential circumstances is available for both parties: thus in the Teucer Odysseus says that Teucer is closely bound to Priam, since his mother Hesione was Priam’s sister. Teucer replies that Telamon his father was Priam’s enemy, and that he himself did not betray the spies to Priam. Another method, suitable for the calumniator, is to praise some trifling merit at great length, and then attack some important failing concisely; or after mentioning a number of good qualities to attack one bad one that really bears on the question. This is the method of thoroughly skilful and unscrupulous prosecutors. By mixing up the man’s merits with what is bad, they do their best to make use of them to damage him.

There is another method open to both calumniator and apologist. Since a given action can be done from many motives, the former must try to disparage it by selecting the worse motive of two, the latter to put the better construction on it. Thus one might argue that Diomedes chose Odysseus as his companion because he supposed Odysseus to be the best man for the purpose; and you might reply to this that it was, on the contrary, because he was the only hero so worthless that Diomedes need not fear his rivalry.


We may now pass from the subject of calumny to that of Narration.

Narration in ceremonial oratory is not continuous but intermittent. There must, of course, be some survey of the actions that form the subject-matter of the speech. The speech is a composition containing two parts. One of these is not provided by the orator’s art, viz. the actions themselves, of which the orator is in no sense author. The other part is provided by his namely, the proof (where proof is needed) that the actions were done, the description of their quality or of their extent, or even all these three things together. Now the reason why sometimes it is not desirable to make the whole narrative continuous is that the case thus expounded is hard to keep in mind. Show, therefore, from one set of facts that your hero is, e.g. brave, and from other sets of facts that he is able, just, &c. A speech thus arranged is comparatively simple, instead of being complicated and elaborate. You will have to recall well-known deeds among others; and because they are well-known, the hearer usually needs no narration of them; none, for instance, if your object is the praise of Achilles; we all know the facts of his life-what you have to do is to apply those facts. But if your object is the praise of Critias, you must narrate his deeds, which not many people know of...

Nowadays it is said, absurdly enough, that the narration should be rapid. Remember what the man said to the baker who asked whether he was to make the cake hard or soft: ‘What, can’t you make it right?’ Just so here. We are not to make long narrations, just as we are not to make long introductions or long arguments. Here, again, rightness does not consist either in rapidity or in conciseness, but in the happy mean; that is, in saying just so much as will make the facts plain, or will lead the hearer to believe that the thing has happened, or that the man has caused injury or wrong to some one, or that the facts are really as important as you wish them to be thought: or the opposite facts to establish the opposite arguments.

You may also narrate as you go anything that does credit to yourself, e.g. ‘I kept telling him to do his duty and not abandon his children’; or discredit to your adversary, e.g. ‘But he answered me that, wherever he might find himself, there he would find other children’, the answer Herodotus’ records of the Egyptian mutineers. Slip in anything else that the judges will enjoy.

The defendant will make less of the narration. He has to maintain that the thing has not happened, or did no harm, or was not unjust, or not so bad as is alleged. He must therefor snot waste time about what is admitted fact, unless this bears on his own contention; e.g. that the thing was done, but was not wrong. Further, we must speak of events as past and gone, except where they excite pity or indignation by being represented as present. The Story told to Alcinous is an example of a brief chronicle, when it is repeated to Penelope in sixty lines. Another instance is the Epic Cycle as treated by Phayllus, and the prologue to the Oeneus.

The narration should depict character; to which end you must know what makes it do so. One such thing is the indication of moral purpose; the quality of purpose indicated determines the quality of character depicted and is itself determined by the end pursued. Thus it is that mathematical discourses depict no character; they have nothing to do with moral purpose, for they represent nobody as pursuing any end. On the other hand, the Socratic dialogues do depict character, being concerned with moral questions. This end will also be gained by describing the manifestations of various types of character, e.g. ‘he kept walking along as he talked’, which shows the man’s recklessness and rough manners. Do not let your words seem inspired so much by intelligence, in the manner now current, as by moral purpose: e.g. ‘I willed this; aye, it was my moral purpose; true, I gained nothing by it, still it is better thus.’ For the other way shows good sense, but this shows good character; good sense making us go after what is useful, and good character after what is noble. Where any detail may appear incredible, then add the cause of it; of this Sophocles provides an example in the Antigone, where Antigone says she had cared more for her brother than for husband or children, since if the latter perished they might be replaced,

But since my father and mother in their graves

Lie dead, no brother can be born to me.

If you have no such cause to suggest, just say that you are aware that no one will believe your words, but the fact remains that such is our nature, however hard the world may find it to believe that a man deliberately does anything except what pays him.

Again, you must make use of the emotions. Relate the familiar manifestations of them, and those that distinguish yourself and your opponent; for instance, ‘he went away scowling at me’. So Aeschines described Cratylus as ‘hissing with fury and shaking his fists’. These details carry conviction: the audience take the truth of what they know as so much evidence for the truth of what they do not. Plenty of such details may be found in Homer:

Thus did she say: but the old woman buried her face in her hands:

a true touch-people beginning to cry do put their hands over their eyes.

Bring yourself on the stage from the first in the right character, that people may regard you in that light; and the same with your adversary; but do not let them see what you are about. How easily such impressions may be conveyed we can see from the way in which we get some inkling of things we know nothing of by the mere look of the messenger bringing news of them. Have some narrative in many different parts of your speech; and sometimes let there be none at the beginning of it.

In political oratory there is very little opening for narration; nobody can ‘narrate’ what has not yet happened. If there is narration at all, it will be of past events, the recollection of which is to help the hearers to make better plans for the future. Or it may be employed to attack some one’s character, or to eulogize him-only then you will not be doing what the political speaker, as such, has to do.

If any statement you make is hard to believe, you must guarantee its truth, and at once offer an explanation, and then furnish it with such particulars as will be expected. Thus Carcinus’ Jocasta, in his Oedipus, keeps guaranteeing the truth of her answers to the inquiries of the man who is seeking her son; and so with Haemon in Sophocles.


The duty of the Arguments is to attempt demonstrative proofs. These proofs must bear directly upon the question in dispute, which must fall under one of four heads. (1) If you maintain that the act was not committed, your main task in court is to prove this. (2) If you maintain that the act did no harm, prove this. If you maintain that (3) the act was less than is alleged, or (4) justified, prove these facts, just as you would prove the act not to have been committed if you were maintaining that.

It should be noted that only where the question in dispute falls under the first of these heads can it be true that one of the two parties is necessarily a rogue. Here ignorance cannot be pleaded, as it might if the dispute were whether the act was justified or not. This argument must therefore be used in this case only, not in the others.

In ceremonial speeches you will develop your case mainly by arguing that what has been done is, e.g., noble and useful. The facts themselves are to be taken on trust; proof of them is only submitted on those rare occasions when they are not easily credible or when they have been set down to some one else.

In political speeches you may maintain that a proposal is impracticable; or that, though practicable, it is unjust, or will do no good, or is not so important as its proposer thinks. Note any falsehoods about irrelevant matters-they will look like proof that his other statements also are false. Argument by ‘example’ is highly suitable for political oratory, argument by ‘enthymeme’ better suits forensic. Political oratory deals with future events, of which it can do no more than quote past events as examples. Forensic oratory deals with what is or is not now true, which can better be demonstrated, because not contingent-there is no contingency in what has now already happened. Do not use a continuous succession of enthymemes: intersperse them with other matter, or they will spoil one another’s effect. There are limits to their number—

Friend, you have spoken as much as a sensible man would have spoken. ,as much’ says Homer, not ‘as well’. Nor should you try to make enthymemes on every point; if you do, you will be acting just like some students of philosophy, whose conclusions are more familiar and believable than the premisses from which they draw them. And avoid the enthymeme form when you are trying to rouse feeling; for it will either kill the feeling or will itself fall flat: all simultaneous motions tend to cancel each other either completely or partially. Nor should you go after the enthymeme form in a passage where you are depicting character-the process of demonstration can express neither moral character nor moral purpose. Maxims should be employed in the Arguments-and in the Narration too-since these do express character: ‘I have given him this, though I am quite aware that one should “Trust no man”.’ Or if you are appealing to the emotions: ‘I do not regret it, though I have been wronged; if he has the profit on his side, I have justice on mine.’

Political oratory is a more difficult task than forensic; and naturally so, since it deals with the future, whereas the pleader deals with the past, which, as Epimenides of Crete said, even the diviners already know. (Epimenides did not practise divination about the future; only about the obscurities of the past.) Besides, in forensic oratory you have a basis in the law; and once you have a starting-point, you can prove anything with comparative ease. Then again, political oratory affords few chances for those leisurely digressions in which you may attack your adversary, talk about yourself, or work on your hearers’ emotions; fewer chances indeed, than any other affords, unless your set purpose is to divert your hearers’ attention. Accordingly, if you find yourself in difficulties, follow the lead of the Athenian speakers, and that of Isocrates, who makes regular attacks upon people in the course of a political speech, e.g. upon the Lacedaemonians in the Panegyricus, and upon Chares in the speech about the allies. In ceremonial oratory, intersperse your speech with bits of episodic eulogy, like Isocrates, who is always bringing some one forward for this purpose. And this is what Gorgias meant by saying that he always found something to talk about. For if he speaks of Achilles, he praises Peleus, then Aeacus, then Zeus; and in like manner the virtue of valour, describing its good results, and saying what it is like.

Now if you have proofs to bring forward, bring them forward, and your moral discourse as well; if you have no enthymemes, then fall back upon moral discourse: after all, it is more fitting for a good man to display himself as an honest fellow than as a subtle reasoner. Refutative enthymemes are more popular than demonstrative ones: their logical cogency is more striking: the facts about two opposites always stand out clearly when the two are nut side by side.

The ‘Reply to the Opponent’ is not a separate division of the speech; it is part of the Arguments to break down the opponent’s case, whether by objection or by counter-syllogism. Both in political speaking and when pleading in court, if you are the first speaker you should put your own arguments forward first, and then meet the arguments on the other side by refuting them and pulling them to pieces beforehand. If, however, the case for the other side contains a great variety of arguments, begin with these, like Callistratus in the Messenian assembly, when he demolished the arguments likely to be used against him before giving his own. If you speak later, you must first, by means of refutation and counter-syllogism, attempt some answer to your opponent’s speech, especially if his arguments have been well received. For just as our minds refuse a favourable reception to a person against whom they are prejudiced, so they refuse it to a speech when they have been favourably impressed by the speech on the other side. You should, therefore, make room in the minds of the audience for your coming speech; and this will be done by getting your opponent’s speech out of the way. So attack that first-either the whole of it, or the most important, successful, or vulnerable points in it, and thus inspire confidence in what you have to say yourself—

First, champion will I be of Goddesses...
Never, I ween, would Hera...

where the speaker has attacked the silliest argument first. So much for the Arguments.

With regard to the element of moral character: there are assertions which, if made about yourself, may excite dislike, appear tedious, or expose you to the risk of contradiction; and other things which you cannot say about your opponent without seeming abusive or ill-bred. Put such remarks, therefore, into the mouth of some third person. This is what Isocrates does in the Philippus and in the Antidosis, and Archilochus in his satires. The latter represents the father himself as attacking his daughter in the lampoon

Think nought impossible at all,
Nor swear that it shall not befall...
and puts into the mouth of Charon the carpenter the lampoon which begins
Not for the wealth of Gyes...

So too Sophocles makes Haemon appeal to his father on behalf of Antigone as if it were others who were speaking.

Again, sometimes you should restate your enthymemes in the form of maxims; e.g. ‘Wise men will come to terms in the hour of success; for they will gain most if they do’. Expressed as an enthymeme, this would run, ‘If we ought to come to terms when doing so will enable us to gain the greatest advantage, then we ought to come to terms in the hour of success.’


Next as to Interrogation. The best moment to a employ this is when your opponent has so answered one question that the putting of just one more lands him in absurdity. Thus Pericles questioned Lampon about the way of celebrating the rites of the Saviour Goddess. Lampon declared that no uninitiated person could be told of them. Pericles then asked, ‘Do you know them yourself?’ ‘Yes’, answered Lampon. ‘Why,’ said Pericles, ‘how can that be, when you are uninitiated?’

Another good moment is when one premiss of an argument is obviously true, and you can see that your opponent must say ‘yes’ if you ask him whether the other is true. Having first got this answer about the other, do not go on to ask him about the obviously true one, but just state the conclusion yourself. Thus, when Meletus denied that Socrates believed in the existence of gods but admitted that he talked about a supernatural power, Socrates proceeded to to ask whether ‘supernatural beings were not either children of the gods or in some way divine?’ ‘Yes’, said Meletus. ‘Then’, replied Socrates, ‘is there any one who believes in the existence of children of the gods and yet not in the existence of the gods themselves?’ Another good occasion is when you expect to show that your opponent is contradicting either his own words or what every one believes. A fourth is when it is impossible for him to meet your question except by an evasive answer. If he answers ‘True, and yet not true’, or ‘Partly true and partly not true’, or ‘True in one sense but not in another’, the audience thinks he is in difficulties, and applauds his discomfiture. In other cases do not attempt interrogation; for if your opponent gets in an objection, you are felt to have been worsted. You cannot ask a series of questions owing to the incapacity of the audience to follow them; and for this reason you should also make your enthymemes as compact as possible.

In replying, you must meet ambiguous questions by drawing reasonable distinctions, not by a curt answer. In meeting questions that seem to involve you in a contradiction, offer the explanation at the outset of your answer, before your opponent asks the next question or draws his conclusion. For it is not difficult to see the drift of his argument in advance. This point, however, as well as the various means of refutation, may be regarded as known to us from the Topics.

When your opponent in drawing his conclusion puts it in the form of a question, you must justify your answer. Thus when Sophocles was asked by Peisander whether he had, like the other members of the Board of Safety, voted for setting up the Four Hundred, he said ‘Yes.’-’Why, did you not think it wicked?’-’Yes.’-’So you committed this wickedness?’ ‘Yes’, said Sophocles, ‘for there was nothing better to do.’ Again, the Lacedaemonian, when he was being examined on his conduct as ephor, was asked whether he thought that the other ephors had been justly put to death. ‘Yes’, he said. ‘Well then’, asked his opponent, ‘did not you propose the same measures as they?’-’Yes.’-’Well then, would not you too be justly put to death?’-’Not at all’, said he; ‘they were bribed to do it, and I did it from conviction’. Hence you should not ask any further questions after drawing the conclusion, nor put the conclusion itself in the form of a further question, unless there is a large balance of truth on your side.

As to jests. These are supposed to be of some service in controversy. Gorgias said that you should kill your opponents’ earnestness with jesting and their jesting with earnestness; in which he was right. jests have been classified in the Poetics. Some are becoming to a gentleman, others are not; see that you choose such as become you. Irony better befits a gentleman than buffoonery; the ironical man jokes to amuse himself, the buffoon to amuse other people.


The Epilogue has four parts. You must (1) make the audience well-disposed towards yourself and ill-disposed towards your opponent (2) magnify or minimize the leading facts, (3) excite the required state of emotion in your hearers, and (4) refresh their memories.

(1) Having shown your own truthfulness and the untruthfulness of your opponent, the natural thing is to commend yourself, censure him, and hammer in your points. You must aim at one of two objects-you must make yourself out a good man and him a bad one either in yourselves or in relation to your hearers. How this is to be managed-by what lines of argument you are to represent people as good or bad-this has been already explained.

(2) The facts having been proved, the natural thing to do next is to magnify or minimize their importance. The facts must be admitted before you can discuss how important they are; just as the body cannot grow except from something already present. The proper lines of argument to be used for this purpose of amplification and depreciation have already been set forth.

(3) Next, when the facts and their importance are clearly understood, you must excite your hearers’ emotions. These emotions are pity, indignation, anger, hatred, envy, emulation, pugnacity. The lines of argument to be used for these purposes also have been previously mentioned.

(4) Finally you have to review what you have already said. Here you may properly do what some wrongly recommend doing in the introduction-repeat your points frequently so as to make them easily understood. What you should do in your introduction is to state your subject, in order that the point to be judged may be quite plain; in the epilogue you should summarize the arguments by which your case has been proved. The first step in this reviewing process is to observe that you have done what you undertook to do. You must, then, state what you have said and why you have said it. Your method may be a comparison of your own case with that of your opponent; and you may compare either the ways you have both handled the same point or make your comparison less direct: ‘My opponent said so-and-so on this point; I said so-and-so, and this is why I said it’. Or with modest irony, e.g. ‘He certainly said so-and-so, but I said so-and-so’. Or ‘How vain he would have been if he had proved all this instead of that!’ Or put it in the form of a question. ‘What has not been proved by me?’ or ‘What has my opponent proved?’ You may proceed then, either in this way by setting point against point, or by following the natural order of the arguments as spoken, first giving your own, and then separately, if you wish, those of your opponent.

For the conclusion, the disconnected style of language is appropriate, and will mark the difference between the oration and the peroration. ‘I have done. You have heard me. The facts are before you. I ask for your judgement.’



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