Three means of effecting persuasion.

by Aristotle, 25 July 350 B.C.E. Tags: Rhetoric, Persuasion, Logic.

There are, then, these three means of effecting persuasion. The man who is to be in command of them must, it is clear, be able (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions—that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited.

It thus appears that rhetoric is an offshoot of dialectic and also of ethical studies. Ethical studies may fairly be called political; and for this reason rhetoric masquerades as political science, and the professors of it as political experts—sometimes from want of education, sometimes from ostentation, sometimes owing to other human failings. As a matter of fact, it is a branch of dialectic and similar to it, as we said at the outset. Neither rhetoric nor dialectic is the scientific study of any one separate subject: both are faculties for providing arguments. This is perhaps a sufficient account of their scope and of how they are related to each other.

The decline of eloquence.

by Cicero, 7 Dec. 47 B.C.E. Tags: Rhetoric, Politics.

If Hortensius was now living, he would probably regret many other advantages in common with his worthy fellow-citizens. But when he beheld the Forum, the great theatre in which he used to exercise his genius, no longer accessible to that accomplished eloquence, which could charm the ears of a Roman, or a Grecian audience; he must have felt a pang of which none, or at least but few, besides himself, could be susceptible. Even I am unable to restrain my tears, when I behold my country no longer defensible by the genius, the prudence, and the authority of a legal magistrate,—the only weapons which I have learned to weild, and to which I have long been accustomed, and which are most suitable to the character of an illustrious citizen, and of a virtuous and well-regulated state.

But if there ever was a time, when the authority and eloquence of an honest individual could have wrested their arms from the hands of his distracted fellow-citizens; it was then when the proposal of a compromise of our mutual differences was rejected, by the hasty imprudence of some, and the timorous mistrust of others. Thus it happened, among other misfortunes of a more deplorable nature, that when my declining age, after a life spent in the service of the Public, should have reposed in the peaceful harbour, not of an indolent, and a total inactivity, but of a moderate and becoming retirement; and when my eloquence was properly mellowed, and had acquired its full maturity;—thus it happened, I say, that recourse was then had to those fatal arms, which the persons who had learned the use of them in honourable conquest, could no longer employ to any salutary purpose. Those, therefore, appear to me to have enjoyed a fortunate and a happy life, (of whatever State they were members, but especially in our's) who held their authority and reputation, either for their military or political services, without interruption: and the sole remembrance of them, in our present melancholy situation, was a pleasing relief to me, when we lately happened to mention them in the course of conversation.

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