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The Art of Rhetoric:
Learning How to Use the Three Main Rhetorical Styles
According to Aristotle, rhetoric is "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion." He described three main forms of rhetoric: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos.
Ethos is appeal based on the character of the speaker. An ethos-driven document relies on the reputation of the author.
Ethos names the persuasive appeal of one's character, especially how this character is established by means of the speech or discourse.
Aristotle claimed that one needs to appear both knowledgeable about one's subject and benevolent. Cicero said that in classical oratory the initial portion of a speech (its exordium or introduction) was the place to establish one's credibility with the audience.
Sample Rhetorical Analysis: ETHOS
In Cicero's speech defending the poet Archias, he begins his speech by referring to his own expertise in oratory, for which he was famous in Rome. While lacking modesty, this tactic still established his ethos because the audience was forced to acknowledge that Cicero's public service gave him a certain right to speak, and his success in oratory gave him special authority to speak about another author. In effect, his entire speech is an attempt to increase the respectability of the ethos of literature, largely accomplished by tying it to Cicero's own, already established, public character.
Acme Gizmotronics, the company that you've trusted for over 100 years, has recently entered the World Wide Web! Now you can purchase our fine products through the internet. Our quality gizmos, widgets, and thingamabobs can be shipped to you within minutes. All come with the famous lifetime guarantee that makes Acme the company that the world depends on for it's gizmo needs.
Our spokesperson, Mr. Coyote says, "I'm not really a coyote, but I play one on tv. I've used Acme products for years. Their slingshots, rocket launchers, crowbars, pogo sticks, and power pills are the best around. And don't forget their high-powered dynamite! I buy everything from Acme. They are the company that I trust the most."
ACME is currently supporting research into a form of clean, ultra-efficient, cesium-based power that promises to usher in a new period of cheap, globally available power. Based on a small island off the coast of Costa Rica, ACME Technology Research is one of our most significant divisions.
Interested in learning more about ACME? We thought you might be.
Back to reality - ACME is not a real company, contrary to popular belief. It's something we made up to use as an example of Ethos. The ACME homepage is an example of ethos because of the way it keeps referring back to the character of ACME. ACME is a company that "you have trusted for over 100 years." They even have a spokesperson vouching for their integrity.
Figures used to establish credibility (ethos)
Anamnesis: Calling to memory past matters. More specifically, citing a past author from memory.
Anamnesis helps to establish ethos, since it conveys the idea that the speaker is knowledgeable of the received wisdom from the past.
Examples: Was it not Socrates who said the unexamined life is not worth living?
Figures used to establish credibility (ethos)
Epicrisis: When a speaker quotes a certain passage and makes comment upon it.
Figures used to establish credibility (ethos)
Chreia: Employing an anecdote which relates a saying or deed of someone well known.
Chreia (from the Greek chreiodes, "useful") is "a brief reminiscence referring to some person in a pithy form for the purpose of edification." It takes the form of an anecdote that reports either a saying, an edifying action, or both.
Directions for Composition
Praise the sayer or doer, or praise the chreia itself
Give a paraphrase of the theme
Say why this was said or done
Introduce a contrast
Introduce a comparison
Give an example of the meaning
Support the saying/action with testimony of others
Conclude with a brief epilog or conclusion
Example If one were to begin with this proverb from the Bible:
"It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house." —Proverbs 21: 9
One could amplify it using the steps mentioned above as follows:
Solomon, that paragon of wisdom, did indeed show his acumen when he stated in Proverbs that it would be better to live in a tiny and insignificant dwelling than to have a mansion but share it with a cantankerous wife. A man of so many wives must have known this from experience, yet he gave this proverb as a caution both to wives and their husbands and for their mutual benefit. It is indeed better to have domestic harmony than to have that discord that comes when one spouse rails against the other.
Living with a nagging, brawling wife is like living with the TV forever tuned to Rush Limbaugh on a cranky day. For example, I knew of one man of great potential for public office who won over ever constituency except that at his house. There, where his wife seemed to have an inordinate power of veto, none of his legislation ever passed. He became so discouraged that he gave up his political ambitions and now sweeps floors at Taco Bell.
Experts in family science have cautioned us to maintain peace in the home. We cannot hope to follow these experts or the older and wisest Solomon if we do not take the advice of the latter and so avoid the unhappy scene described by the former.
This example, taken from Plato's Republic, does not follow the above steps strictly, but you can get a sense of how the chreia was used in literature to support a point.
In the following passage Cephalus addresses Socrates and Glaucon regarding the apparent pains of old age:
"How well I remember the aged poet Sophocles, when in answer to the question, How does lovemaking suit with old age, Sophocles, —are you still the man you were? Peace, he replied; most gladly have I escaped the thing of which you speak; I feel as if I had escaped from a mad and furious master
His words have often occurred to my mind since, and they seem as good to me now as at the time when he uttered them. For certainly old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the passions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we are freed from the grasp not of one mad master only, but of many."
Deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite. The Ad Herennium author suggests litotes as a means of expressing modesty (downplaying one's accomplishments) in order to gain the audience's favor (establishing ethos).
litotes--deliberate understatement meant to intensify what is being said: "It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain" (Salinger, Catcher in the Rye). Often this figure works by denying the contrary: "I am a citizen of no mean city" (St. Paul).
Examples It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain. —J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Figures that can damage credibility (ethos)
Stylistic vices, of course, will damage ethos (such as cacozelia). And some figures seem more obviously artificial or affected, and can thus hurt one's credibility, especially if overused.
A stylistic affectation of diction, such as throwing in foreign words to appear learned.
Bad taste in words or selection of metaphor, either to make the facts appear worse or to disgust the auditors.
Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning).
The Ad Herennium author further specifies that this is brought about through various kinds of metaplasm. (The Rhetorica ad Herennium is the oldest surviving Latin book on rhetoric).
A general term for orthographical figures (changes to the spelling of words). This includes alteration of the letters or syllables in single words, including additions, omissions, inversions, and substitutions.
Such changes are considered conscious choices made by the artist or orator for the sake of eloquence or meter, in contrast to the same kinds of changes done accidentally and discussed by grammarians as vices.
Examples Several transpositions of letters in the first two words make possible the last two words of this humorous statement:
"Elvis Lives in Evil Levis."
Logos is appeal based on logic or reason. Documents distributed by companies or corporations are logos-driven. Scholarly documents are also often logos-driven.
Logos appeals to patterns, conventions, and modes of reasoning that the audience finds convincing and persuasive.
In making decisions about the best way to use logos, the writer must answer three questions:
What do we believe, think, or feel in common?
Are the premises, or evidence, for the argument just and appropriate? and
Does the proper conclusion follow from the assumptions of the premises and what would prevent the audience from accepting the conclusion?
Accurately assessing the audience and the subject allows the writer the best chance to pick the best reasons and proofs to sway that audience and to pick the best methods of presentation so that the audience is more likely to be accept what the writers offers as proof.
Aristotle analyzed the process whereby a statement can be logically inferred to be true from the fact that its premises are true, a process he called a syllogism. A syllogism is the most common type of deductive logic. Aristotle thought of it as the "main instrument for reaching scientific conclusions."
ACME's new dihydro-cesium detonation process
By combining cesium and dihydro-oxide in laboratory conditions, and capturing the released energy, ACME has promised to lead the way into the future. Our energy source is clean, safe, and powerful. No pollutants are released into the atmosphere. The world will soon have an excellent source of clean energy.
ACME is currently working towards a patent on our process. Our scientists are exploring ways to use the process in cars, houses, airplanes, and almost anything else that needs power. ACME batteries will be refitted with small dihydro-cesium reactors. Once the entire world is powered by ACME's generators, we can all relax and enjoy a much easier life.
Logos is an argument based on logic or reason. The ACME Research page is primarily logos-based because it appeals to the reason of people reading it. It suggests that Cesium will provide the world's energy for a very long time. It is clean, safe, and efficient, all of which are appeals to the logic of the audience. By using such convincing reasons in it's argument, ACME hopes to provide the world's energy.
Pathos is appeal based on emotion. Advertisements tend to be pathos-driven.
Pathos, also called the pathetic or emotional appeals, persuades audiences by arousing the emotions.
“Suasive” language: language designed to persuade or dissuade the reader or listener.
Enargeia refers to the rhetor's goal of arousing the passions within the audience to move them to act
Aristotle argued that there are two different sources of the emotional appeals. First, the rhetor may use enargeia. The word enargeia means literally "in work" — energizing or actualizing. It refers to the rhetor's goal of arousing the passions within the audience to move them to act
Since it is defined as representative of not only tangible pieces of art but also any expressly visual scene, it can also be used to describe that which we see in our imagination.
phantasms -- Those random, yet intensely visual images that our mind creates. These emanate from various situations: memories, dreams, fantasies, fleeting glimpses, imaginings. While many of these are not in fact actual (even memories can be distorted, and often they are), they nevertheless represent a form of "truth" and/or "reality" in that our eyes have "seen" them.
Cesium-Based Reactor Kills!
A baby turtle breaks free from the leathery shell of its egg, catching its first glimpse of its first sunrise. It pauses a moment to rest, unaware of the danger that lies so close to it. As the tide comes in, approaching the nest, it also approaches a small pile of metal - cesium. The water draws closer and closer, the turtle unsuspecting of the danger. Finally, the water touches the cesium. The nest is torn to bits in the resulting explosion, destroying even more of an endangered species.
Why does this happen? One name: Acme.
Acme Gizmotronics is supporting a dihydro-cesium reactor, trying, in their anthrocentrism, to squeeze energy out of such destructive explosions. And, they are dumping waste cesium onto the shores of their island, threatening the environment. Studies have shown that the dihydro-cesium reactor will destroy the island's ecosphere in less than four months!
How can they get away with this?
Costa Rica (where the island is near) has lax environmental laws, allowing Acme to do whatever they want - including destroy endangered species.
What can you do about this?
Don't let them get away with it! Boycott Acme products! And call your representatives, and tell them you support stricter legislation to prevent things like this!
Pathos is an argument based on emotion, playing on sympathy, fears, and desires. The Say "NO!" To Acme! page is pathos-based because it relies on an emotional response from the people reading it. By stressing the helplessness of the (endangered) turtle, it attempts to sway people to its side, against the "commercial hordes" of Acme.