Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


The use of persuasive speech is to lead to decisions. (When we know a thing, and have decided about it, there is no further use in speaking about it.) This is so even if one is addressing a single person and urging him to do or not to do something, as when we scold a man for his conduct or try to change his views: the single person is as much your ’judge’ as if he were one of many; we may say, without qualification, that any one is your judge whom you have to persuade. Nor does it matter whether we are arguing against an actual opponent or against a mere proposition; in the latter case we still have to use speech and overthrow the opposing arguments, and we attack these as we should attack an actual opponent. Our principle holds good of ceremonial speeches also; the ’onlookers’ for whom such a speech is put together are treated as the judges of it. Broadly speaking, however, the only sort of person who can strictly be called a judge is the man who decides the issue in some matter of public controversy; that is, in law suits and in political debates, in both of which there are issues to be decided. In the section on political oratory an account has already been given of the types of character that mark the different constitutions.

The manner and means of investing speeches with moral character may now be regarded as fully set forth.

Each of the main divisions of oratory has, we have seen, its own distinct purpose. With regard to each division, we have noted the accepted views and propositions upon which we may base our arguments-for political, for ceremonial, and for forensic speaking. We have further determined completely by what means speeches may be invested with the required moral character. We are now to proceed to discuss the arguments common to all oratory. All orators, besides their special lines of argument, are bound to use, for instance, the topic of the Possible and Impossible; and to try to show that a thing has happened, or will happen in future. Again, the topic of Size is common to all oratory; all of us have to argue that things are bigger or smaller than they seem, whether we are making political speeches, speeches of eulogy or attack, or prosecuting or defending in the law-courts. Having analysed these subjects, we will try to say what we can about the general principles of arguing by ’enthymeme’ and ’example’, by the addition of which we may hope to complete the project with which we set out. Of the above-mentioned general lines of argument, that concerned with Amplification is-as has been already said-most appropriate to ceremonial speeches; that concerned with the Past, to forensic speeches, where the required decision is always about the past; that concerned with Possibility and the Future, to political speeches.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "18," Rhetoric, trans. W. Rhys Roberts in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed August 21, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PWIBEP3LRV7YNTN.

MLA: Aristotle. "18." Rhetoric, translted by W. Rhys Roberts, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 21 Aug. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PWIBEP3LRV7YNTN.

Harvard: Aristotle, '18' in Rhetoric, trans. . cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 21 August 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PWIBEP3LRV7YNTN.