Table of Contents


Preface                                                                                                   4

The System of This Book

The Hard Science of Rhetoric:  Theory

The Habit of Rhetoric:  Imitation

The Creation of Rhetoric:  Practice

A General Disclaimer


Chapter 1   Origin and Definition of Rhetoric                                      10


Chapter 2   Parts of the Definition:  Rhetorical Situation                      14


Chapter 3   Rhetorical Situation Continued                                          17


Chapter 4   Parts of the Definition:  Means of Persuasion                     20


The Five Canons of Rhetoric


Chapter 5   Canons of  Rhetoric:  Invention:  Parts of a Speech           23


Chapter 6   Parts of a Speech:  Introduction                               26


Chapter 7   Introduction Continued                                                      29


Chapter 8   Parts of a Speech:  Statement of Facts                      33


Chapter 9   Statement of Facts Continued                                            37


Chapter 10   Parts of a Speech:  Division                                             39


Chapter 11   Parts of a Speech:  Proof and Refutation                          42


Chapter 12   Proof and Refutation Continued                                      45


Chapter 13   Parts of a Speech:  Conclusion                               49


Chapter 14   Conclusion Continued                                                     52


Chapter 15   Canons of Rhetoric:  Invention Reviewed                        55


Chapter 16   Canons of Rhetoric:  Arrangement                                   58


Chapter 17   Arrangement Continued                                                   61


Chapter 18   Canons of Rhetoric:  Style                                               66


Chapter 19   Style Continued                                                               69


Chapter 20   Style Continued                                                               72


Chapter 21   Canons of Rhetoric:  Memory                                          75


Chapter 22   Canons of Rhetoric:  Delivery                                          78


Chapter 23   Delivery Continued                                                          81


Chapter 24   Review of the General Theory of Classical Rhetoric        84


Chapter 25   Introduction to the Practical Media of Communication    87


Chapter 26   Written Media:  Papers and Essays                                   90


Chapter 27   Written Media:  Letters and Articles                                 94


Chapter 28   Written Media:  Stories                                                    97


Chapter 29   Aural Media:  Speeches and Reading                               101


Chapter 30   Aural Media:  Music and Rhetoric                                    105


Chapter 31   Visual Media:  Meaningful Images                                   110


Chapter 32   The Life of Rhetoric                                                        112


Appendix I                                                                                            114


Appendix II                                                                                          117


Glossary                                                                                                120







Chapter 1:  Origin and Definition of Rhetoric


Rhetoric is the counterpart of Dialectic.  Both alike are concerned with such things as come, more or less, within the general ken of all men and belong to no definite science. 

Aristotle, On Rhetoric


What, exactly, is the study of rhetoric?  This question has been asked ever since the term was coined.  The literal meaning of the word in English is the art of speaking or writing effectively. “Rhetoric” comes from the Greek word for “speech” or “spoken.”  It has not always been considered a respectable academic discipline.  Plato was critical of the idea that rhetoric should be called an art, while Aristotle argued in On Rhetoric that it was indeed an art.  Plato’s perspective on rhetoric has not been uncommon throughout the ages, namely, that rhetoric is no art at all but merely practiced flattery.  The “fantastical banquet” of words is “mere cookery in words”; words that are plain and to the point are all that are needed.  Plato puts forth this position in his dialogue Gorgias, where rhetoric is called “the art of persuasion.”  Through the character of Socrates he tears this definition apart by showing that bare persuasion cannot be an art in the proper sense of the word.


            Plato’s argument, through Socrates, goes something like this:  He compares rhetoric to those things traditionally considered art, such as medicine, politics, and warfare, and reveals that rhetoric, unlike them, has no specific subject or any basic data to serve as the foundation for those who practice it.  The subject of medicine is healing, which is accomplished by knowledge of illnesses and medicines.  The subject of warfare is victory, which is accomplished by knowledge of troops and tactics.  But with rhetoric, there are endless difficulties discovering a subject, especially since both the doctor and the general must use persuasion—which is supposed to be the realm of rhetoric—and since the ability to persuade can be considered a knack, not a skill based on knowledge.  Based on the fact that rhetoric (as the art of persuasion) cannot meet the definition of an art (a discipline with a specific subject and basic data), Socrates concludes it is no art.  He goes on at length to explain that rhetoric is merely a form of flattery, and more comparable to cookery than to medicine.  He heaps shame on rhetoric by employing, ironically, a number of rhetorical means.  The gist of his argument is that when we compare rhetoric to other “arts,” it doesn’t fit the description; hence we shouldn’t even call it an art.


In answer to this criticism, Aristotle in On Rhetoric defines rhetoric so that he can explain its place as a counterpart to dialectic (logic).  He says that rhetoric is like dialectic in that its subject is all things.  While the subject of dialectic is logical thought and the subject of rhetoric is effective communication, they differ from many of the lesser arts, such as medicine and warfare, since the subjects of health and victory are comparatively narrow.  The definition of rhetoric settled on, then, must take up this universal nature of its referent.  Aristotle proposes that we call rhetoric “the art of finding the possible means of persuasion in reference to any given situation.”


This definition may seem somewhat clumsy at first, but as you begin to experience the everyday nature of rhetoric you will have a greater appreciation for Aristotle’s insight.  Aristotle strikes the balance by using a definition that acknowledges the goal—persuasion—but grounds its use in the “given situations.”  Rhetoric, like logic, has all things as its subject—every “given situation” is the subject for either discipline.  This definition also goes a long way toward answering the age-old question about rhetoric: “What makes rhetoric more than a base appeal to the emotions?”  Many have answered like Plato—“not much”; but those who delve a little further come to appreciate the important role of the human will in communications.  Every message from human to human is laden with the will (emotions or desires) of the speaker, and comes to a hearer who is full of his own emotions and predispositions.  This fact makes the study of how words are made persuasive both legitimate and necessary.  Although some philosophers dream wistfully of pure rational discourse, in reality it is a comical pretense (and sometimes shows up in literature as such—for instance, in Dickens’ Mr. GradgrindHard Times).  Every person who is opposed to rhetoric nevertheless participates in his very own rhetoric.  More than likely he will attempt to persuade you that rhetoric is no legitimate art.  He won’t just coolly let the “truth” of his position win out in the end.  No, he wants you to believe as he does; and if or when you do, he expects you to want it to be believed just as he did.  Desires and predispositions are part of the world as much as reason is, argues Aristotle’s definition.


One of the ways in which Aristotle showed the legitimacy and necessity of rhetoric was by setting forth three divisions of oratory that demonstrated its role in public life. These categories illustrated that there was a system to the “situation” of rhetoric.  They are the Deliberative (or Political), Forensic (or Judicial), and Epideictic (which includes many different kinds of rhetoric).  These three have a more or less future, past, and present order to them.


Deliberative oratory is concerned with the future and with persuading someone to take a certain course of action. With the Athenian democracy probably in mind, Aristotle identifies the use of rhetoric before the legislative assembly as Deliberative. The Roman Republic also afforded a use for this type of oratory.  Today we still have this use in our legislative assemblies all the way from the town council to the U.S. Senate.  And, in the sense that advertising seeks to persuade people to take an action in the future for their future benefit, it is also a kind of deliberative rhetoric. 


Forensic oratory deals with events that happened in the past—whether a certain man or institution did or did not do something and what we ought to do consequently.  The proper sphere of Forensic oratory is generally considered to be the judicial court.  Although there are other disciplines (history, for example) that fit the specific criteria given above in some ways, Forensic causes are almost always courtroom situations. 


Epideictic oratory is the broadest category, and you need to remember two main branches. First, Epideictic oratory deals with the present by recommending someone or something to the audience as worthy of praise or blame.  (This was the understanding of Epideictic oratory in the classical world.)  Second, today we call upon Epideictic rhetoric to accomplish any ideologically driven persuasion—put another way, any persuasion that persuades primarily to belief, although that belief may result in action as a secondary effect.  


These are the general categories of oratory.  The Deliberative cause is concerned mainly with the wisdom or practical implications of a certain course of action.  In Forensic oratory, you must show how the law speaks to the situation at hand, either in letter or in spirit.  Finally, in Epideictic oratory you must convince the audience of the positive or negative value of a certain person, place, thing, or idea.  None of these categories is completely exclusive.  You will have some Forensic-like sections in your Deliberative speech as you try to determine the judicial precedent for a certain law and how it relates to the course of action being considered.  You will also seek to persuade the audience that the course of action is either good or bad, which are Epideictic concerns.  So you see that the categories do overlap, but usually one type of oratory will define your situation better than the others. 


In the classical world, and especially in the Athenian democracy, the power to persuade was a necessity for any public citizen.  Aristotle’s arguments were potent because he showed that one of the proper ends of rhetoric was to apply the means of persuasion to Deliberative and Forensic situations.  This was not only acceptable but interesting to citizens of the ancient world, who could be required to defend themselves in court without the assistance of a lawyer.  The citizen of a democracy or a republic also had to vote for a candidate, distinguishing the smooth talker from the honest man—a perennial problem in politics.  It was easy for Aristotle’s audience to understand that there was a legitimate use for a systematic study of the means of persuasion.  The comparison to logic was a stroke of genius that freed each man from objections like Plato’s.  Rhetoric was an art, to be studied right alongside Logic.


Finally, there are always those aforementioned smooth talkers, who give rhetoric a bad name.  Such were the sophists, or philosophical relativists, who were certain that persuasive power is a might that makes right.  They viewed rhetoric as a legitimate means for gaining whatever they liked.  The sophists were not so much mistaken in their understanding of rhetoric as in their application of ethics.  They correctly recognized rhetorical ability as power.  Aristotle also recognized that rhetoric is power and, as such, can corrupt, and he warned his readers that rhetoric must be used ethically or it will become sophistry.  While it is used for good it is an art, but it becomes base sophistry when corrupted.  He argued that the corruption of rhetoric is a man-based problem, that rhetoric cannot be evil in itself.  As Christians we agree with this conclusion.  Godless ethics always attempts to locate sin in things rather than in man’s nature.  We need to realize that rhetoric is powerful and must be learned in conjunction with the grace of God, which alone can keep its power from being a tool of corruption. 


Summary:  From the beginning, rhetoric has encountered influential advocates and detractors.  While Plato questioned its legitimacy, Aristotle defended rhetoric by comparing it to dialectic and calling it dialectic’s sister art.  Among those in favor of it are those who use it ethically (rhetoricians) for good and truth, and those who use it dishonestly (sophists) for gain.  Three main divisions of oratory set forth by Aristotle—Deliberative, Forensic, and Epideictic—illustrated the concrete and inescapable nature of rhetoric and reinforced the correlation of rhetoric and dialectic.


Exercise 1:  Theory

a.     Memorize both definitions of rhetoric given in this lesson. 

b.     Describe and discuss the reasons for Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric.

c.      What question has often been asked about rhetoric?

d.     What does Aristotle answer?

e.     What role did the three types of oratory play in the debate?

f.      What do sophists do with rhetoric, besides give it a bad name?


Question for discussion:

Pure rational discourse is conversation or discussion in which emotion and sense play no part—in other words, where a mind speaks to a mind without the interference of desire or distraction.  Is pure rational discourse really so laughable?  If so, how and why?


Exercise 2:  Imitation

Read the first half of the book of Psalms.  Notice particularly the beauty of the language.  Does Scripture condone the idea that man is a “rational animal”?  Notice what the Psalms say about desires in man.  Do you think it is good to be moved emotionally by the Psalms?  Why or why or not?


Exercise 3:  Practice

Write the definition of rhetoric from memory and then consider each part of it.  “Finding the means of persuasion ….” What does that mean?  List a means of persuasion you can think of right off the bat.  “In any given situation .…”  What situation?  List three situations in which you might want to be persuasive.  Then consider the first section again.  What are the means of persuasion in reference to the situations you thought of?  Write a short paragraph outlining your thought process.



For Example:


I am driving too fast, and my neighborhood policeman stops me to discuss it.  (situation)


Means of Persuasion:  I should do exactly what he asks now and ask respectfully for pity.  He has probably heard every excuse under the sun, so unless my wife is having a baby I might rather phrase my story as piteous than as justification for my speed.  I certainly should not tell him that he’s nosy and ought to leave people like me alone.  (a short paragraph explaining the means of persuasion)



Chapter 19:  Style Continued


Now, I can’t tell you how to be graceful and elegant in the same way I can tell you how to be clear and direct.  What I can do is describe a few of the devices that some graceful writers use.  But that advice is, finally, about as useful as listing the ingredients in the bouillabaise of a great cook and then expecting anyone to make it.  Knowing ingredients and knowing how to use them is the difference between reading cookbooks and cooking. 

Joseph Williams, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace


            As we continue to discuss Style, let us look in more detail at how language takes on Style.  First we will consider one of the primary methods of giving your speech the balance, texture, and contrast that make a pleasant and tasteful Style.  By this I mean the ornaments or figures of speech, such as metaphor, simile, analogy, etc.  But before we get into the details, let us consider a great rhetorician who used ornamentation and variety to great effect.


            If you go into a used bookstore sometime, ask if there are any authors from the middle part of the last century whose books move through the store quickly.  Then visit a library and try to check out a book by C.S. Lewis.  You will quickly realize that although he’s been dead for almost half a century, people still haven’t had enough.  Everywhere you go, his writings are in demand.  Lewis was a great thinker, yes, but by almost any account he was especially good at communicating complex and profound ideas in a clear and vivid manner.  The clarity of his writing is remarkable, especially since he manages it in many cases apparently without knowing or following any of the rules.  But by far the most remarkable thing about his writing is the way he sets his ideas off with striking analogies and similes that help the reader understand and remember the ideas he is communicating.  His thoughts are connected, and he manages to tell you how in such a way that you love and remember them.  That is good rhetoric!


One of the things that Lewis does well is “put handles” on the material he communicates.  This means that he makes an explanation or idea stand out from the surrounding writing in such a way that you naturally pick it up with your mind and take it with you.  This illustrates one of the functions of ornaments in a speech.  They give language texture.  Without texture your speech will have no access points, no contrast of parts or detail for your audience to follow.  Without balance, however, the connections and flow of ideas can be lost or obscured by the ornamentation.  Using a figure of speech or an analogy will set out one part of a speech in distinction from others.  A speech has a natural texture as it is, of course.  Even so, a monotonous Style and Delivery can make the textures of the topic that may be clear to you so obscure to your audience that they become inattentive.  Ornamentation accentuates the best parts of a speech’s natural texture by a tasteful interspersing and balanced intuition about when to use an analogy or metaphor and when to abstain.


            We will mention three basic kinds of ornamentation here because they are the most common and, I think, the most useful.


First, we have the analogy or comparative story.  This type of ornamentation serves as both an explanatory tool and a delightful bit of imagery to capture the imagination.   Everyone loves a story, and most people like to hear things described.  Analogy is simply using one system or story common and understandable to the audience to explain something that is more obscure or less obvious about the topic at hand.


Second is the metaphor or simile, which is basically a shorter analogy. This is so much the case that sometimes analogy is called “extended metaphor.”  With both we use a commonly understood or recognized object or event and compare it to what we are trying to convey, so that the first object becomes a sort of description of the second.  There is a technical difference between a simile and a metaphor:  a simile contains the word “as” or “like,” while a metaphor makes a comparison by saying that one thing is another, but without the use of comparative words.  “Our God is like a consuming fire” is a simile.  “Our God is a consuming fire” is a metaphor.  This ornament is striking, and when used well it can be very lovely.  It reminds me of the Apostle’s admonition to “let your speech be seasoned with salt,” which is both an exhortation to speaking well and an example of it (metaphor).


Third are various “figures of speech.”  Sometimes when we say “figure of speech” today we think of idioms such as, “It is raining cats and dogs.”  I am using the more traditional definition of a “figure of speech” as adornment that brings distinction and balance to the language, by using structures of language such as repeated use of a word or a phrase, use of opposites, etc.  Figures of speech accentuate texture and balance, as I mentioned above, and in the classical scheme of classification the two types of ornament (metaphor and analogy) mentioned above would most likely fall under the heading of “figures of speech” as well.  But because metaphor and analogy fill a more descriptive and artistic role, I am using “figure of speech” to refer specifically to other kinds of ornamentation that make the language of the speech seem polished and the argumentation balanced and sound by using certain patterns or structures of language.  For instance, Epanaphora is a figure of speech in which the same word or words are repeated at the beginnings of successive phrases in such a way as to tie them together.  Like this:


“The children of Israel complained in the wilderness. The children of Israel failed to drive out the Canaanites.  The children of Israel turned from God to worship idols in the high places of the land.  These same children of Israel were brought into captivity in Babylon.” 


Another example is paralipsis, in which the speaker mentions that he is passing over something as a way to mention it.  Like this:


 “Although it would be right and just for me to mention the President’s moral laxity and his political scheming, I will pass by without comment to the urgent matters of policy that concern us.” 


For more figures of speech, see Appendix I.  As with other forms of ornamentation, these must be used with taste and good judgment. 


            Finally, learning what the tools are and using them well are two different things.  This is why it is so important for every student of rhetoric to remember the three methods for attaining proficiency—Theory, Imitation, and Practice.  Just learning that these kinds of ornamentation exist is a big first step.  Now that you know they are there, notice when you can use them and learn to use them well.


Summary:  A truly successful Style makes use of ornaments of speech.  There are three main kinds of ornamentation:  (1) analogy or comparative story—the practice of using the familiar or common to explain or illustrate your rhetorical point; (2) metaphor or simile—which is a shortened analogy and adds spice to the language; and (3) “figures of speech” (Appendix I), under which I group the structures of language and methods of dialectic considered to be “figures of speech” by the classical writers.


Exercise 1:  Theory

a.     What is the primary function of ornamentation of style?

b.     Give the three main types and their most important features.

c.      What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor?

d.     What are the three ways to attain proficiency at rhetoric?  How are those related to ornaments of style?


Exercise 2:  Imitation

Finish reading Style:  Toward Clarity and Grace.  Read the first third of That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis.  Notice his style and enjoy the story.  It is not an allegory.  


Exercise 3:  Practice

Write two or three segments of prose and make use of at least one of each of the types of ornamentation listed above.  You must use at least one analogy or comparing story, one metaphor or simile, and one figure of speech. 




            “As a cunning snake in the grass, Julius Caesar has waited and watched.  He knew that there was little hope of victory if he was honest.  He knew that if he was a man of principle he would never achieve his ambition.  He knew that his was not so much a desire for justice but for greatness. 

            “So you see that his seeming innocence—his apparent lack of guile—his strident appeals to his blamelessness are without basis. The Trojan horse looked innocent, yes even honorable to those in Troy who forgot to ponder the anomaly of such a gift.  This man is a living Trojan horse to us.  If we fail to consider his motives and plunge at least a small way beneath the surface of this smooth and polished exterior, so flatteringly shaped as a horse, we will no doubt regret it when the firebrands come spilling out the moment we turn our backs.”



Chapter 30:  Aural Media:  Music and Rhetoric


                              We hear music as we hear the voice:  it is the very soul of another, a ‘coming forth’ of the hidden individual.  These descriptions may be metaphors but they seem to be forced upon us, and invite us to treat the relation between music and language as something more than a passing accident. 

Roger Scruton,  The Aesthetics of Music


The next type of aural media I want to look into as a form of persuasive communication is music.  You may doubt my sanity.  You are probably thinking, “Oh, boy, this is a stretch.”  After all, when was the last time any of us heard a “persuasive” piece of music?  Nevertheless, I ask you to bear with me and hear me out.  First of all, I will make it clear that rhetoric and music are separate disciplines.  There are, however, striking similarities between rhetoric and music; in fact, music is a form of communication, as we will see.  In effect, rhetoric and music shed light on each other.  As I show some of the ways in which they do this, I hope you will come to agree with me that music does communicate, and in a sense we might even say persuasively.


First of all, music and rhetoric share a basic situation; there is always a maker of music, a hearer of music, and the music—much like the speaker, the audience, and the speech. Music is sometimes called the “international language.”   A language without words, it communicates regardless of language barriers.  This seems to be a strong indication that music is, in fact, communicative.  But what does music communicate?  Many theories have been postulated, such as the theory that music is an expression of the composer’s inner self, or the idea that music really has no meaning at all.  Most feasible to me is the theory that music is like gestures or facial expressions.  In other words, listening to music is like watching someone speak a foreign language.  I may not understand the meaning of the words he uses, but insofar as human nature expresses itself similarly in all cultures, I can see by a smile that the man is expressing happiness or has found something funny, or by a grimace that he is expressing displeasure at something.  I may even go further and tell by the tone of the speaker’s voice that his scowl expresses anger, or sadness, or injury.  On a happier note, I might be able to tell from tone of voice and facial expression whether he is smiling at something humorous, or at something sublime.  This example illustrates the fact that the specific meaning of music is not usually clear, but we can tell in general what it is gesturing or what attitude it expresses.  I may not know the object of a piece of music’s expressed agitation, but I can at least tell that it is communicating agitation.  Music can be seen as comparable to the gestures and range of expression that come through in the spoken word apart from explicit meaning.  As I mentioned in the last chapter, the comparison goes the other way as well.   Spoken words communicate both by means of the literal meaning of the words and by the inflected emphasis and tone of voice.  Music, then, is of great interest to the serious rhetorician.


There is also a connection or similarity between music and rhetoric in the sense that they both require expressive Delivery.  When studying the theory of Delivery for the first time, I was struck by the similarities between the advice from my violin instructor on creating dynamics when playing a piece of music and the theory of Delivery that I was learning in my rhetoric class.  The similarities are real, and I recommend that you look into music lessons as a way to improve your oral Delivery.  You will also learn an incredible amount about how sound gestures.  Both music and rhetorical Delivery use rhythm, volume, and quality of tone to communicate.  Finally, along with all the other points of similarity, both musical and oratorical performances provide opportunities for overcoming nervousness.  This enemy of smooth Delivery in both arts is formidable and can really only be conquered finally in battle, no matter what other techniques can be used to reduce its strength.  So take up an instrument; let your public speaking benefit from your recitals, and your recitals from your public speaking.


Third, and finally, music and rhetoric are both oriented toward the audience, with a strong emphasis on the aesthetic sense.  That is to say, they both appeal to the human sense of beauty. Rhetoric can help us evaluate music.  Today, almost every form of music is tacitly given the same status as being “beautiful” because it is beautiful in the eye of some beholder.  But does every piece of music really have the same potential for aesthetic value?  Many people actually think that the beauty of a piece of music is determined by each individual isolated from every other individual.  While this may be part of the truth (in the sense that every person’s experience of music is unique), the fact still stands that people—collectively—know there is a difference between beauty and ugliness.  The Theory involved in persuasion lends an interesting perspective to musical evaluation.  The rhetorician is in the business of knowing what will be beautiful, in shape, balance, and texture.  Even his voice is an instrument he uses much like the musician uses his horn or violin.  He evaluates both his message and his situation based on certain principles.  These principles of aesthetics and composition give at least a handhold on some standards in aesthetics.  For example, the theory of rhetoric discusses the natural arrangement of beginning fact, middle action, and final conclusion that can shed light on the structure of a musical piece, which will either follow the pattern (beginning theme, middle tension, final resolution) or disrupt it.  This of course doesn’t immediately answer the question whether a work of art is “good” or “bad,” but it gives the person interested in analyzing and evaluating music some tools for the task.  It would take far too long for me to fully develop this kind of evaluation here.  I have tried to begin laying the groundwork in this chapter.  If music does communicate something, and if we can tell with at least some consistency what it is communicating and how well it does what it sets out to do, then we have a starting place from which to judge it. 


How is music “persuasive”?  This question still remains, and it is not an easy one.  In order to formulate a basic answer to it, let me make a comparison.  Consider the fact that music is like the gesture, tone, and tempo of spoken words without the specific meaning of the words.  Can I take the comparison a step further?  Can music be compared to connotations or aura in other media?  For example, stories and poetry (whether considered textually or aurally) have flavors and tones.  There are gestures in the sounds and shapes of the words chosen and in the organization of the writing.  Sometimes the names of the characters even set a tone for the piece (as in Wodehouse and J.R.R. Tolkien).  The comparison seems to work.  So then, music tells the kind of story or involves the kind of tonal significance of a poem.  In both the poem and the story these are persuasive factors, not so explicitly, but rather as a way to convince the reader or hearer that the secondary world of the author is interesting and enjoyable.  The purpose (implicit or explicit) of the author can vary widely, sometimes conveying beauty and meaning and sometimes merely making the audience laugh.  In any case, when you enjoy art, you are in this sense persuaded.  In this way I claim that there is a kind of rhetorical or persuasive element to music.


Unfortunately, I only have the space to introduce you to the idea that music means.  I mention this to show the similarities of rhetoric and music, and so that you will begin to reject aesthetic relativism.  Music does mean, and we know its beauty, both by experience and by the testimony of Scripture, which encourages us to “make a joyful sound” and to “worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness.”  I want you to be able to firmly proclaim that there are standards for beauty and art, and yet to acknowledge that aesthetic standards are at times subtle.  Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, yet none of us knows beauty apart from being a beholder.  Remember that the Lord beholds all and that His “opinion” is our standard, and then seek to know His standard and how He communicates it to us. 


Summary:  This chapter is about the similarities between rhetoric and music and ways in which we can learn about each from the other.  I outline three main areas of similarity: (1) the basic communication situation, (2) the importance of Delivery, and (3) the aesthetic emphasis of each.  The persuasive element of music is like the persuasion of stories or poetry.


Exercise 1:  Theory

a.     Does music communicate?

b.     What do rhetoric and music have in common?

c.      Aesthetic consideration plays what role in the art of rhetoric?

d.     What kind of meaning or significance does music express?

e.     Does music persuade?  Defend your answer.

f.      Question for discussion:  Beauty and the beholder are related to each other and to God in what ways?


Exercise 2:  Imitation

Listen to some music from the baroque, classical, and romantic periods of musical history.  Compare and consider the rhetorical and especially historical societal setting of each piece of music.   How does the music gesture? 


Exercise 3:  Practice

If you play an instrument or sing, practice more.  Write a short story that follows the gestures of your favorite piece of classical music.  In other words, write a story to which your favorite music would make a good soundtrack.


Exercise Checklist:


1.     Practice your musical instrument or sing.

2.     Pick a favorite piece of classical music.

3.     Write a story that follows the gesture of the favorite piece of music.






Aristotle’s Definition of Rhetoric: The art of finding the possible means of persuasion in reference to any given situation.  Contrast with Plato’s View of Rhetoric.


Attentive:  One of the qualities the rhetorician is supposed to cultivate in the audience, basically denoting a willingness on the part of the audience to listen. (See Receptive and Well Disposed.) 


Arrangement: See Canons of Rhetoric.


Canons of Rhetoric:  The five classically defined areas of discipline or skill which the rhetorician must master in order to use the means of persuasion effectively.


§       Invention: Composing and compiling the material of a speech.

§       Arrangement:  The effective ordering of the invented speech. 

§       Style:  The selection and implementation of a certain type of language in a discourse.  The three basic styles are the Grand, the Middle, and the Simple. (See Grand Style, Middle Style, and Simple Style.)

§       Memory:  Memorization and recall.

§       Delivery: The use of the elements of presentation, including (but not limited to) gestures, tone and volume of voice, and facial expression.


Cause: A short-hand way of referring to the rhetorical situation.


Causes, Four Types:


§       Honorable:  A situation in which the audience views you or your message, or both, with favor.  Use the Direct Opening (most common) or the Subtle Approach.

§       Discreditable:  A situation in which the audience is actively opposed to you or your message, or both.  Use the Subtle Approach. 

§       Doubtful:  A situation in which the audience is undecided about you, your message, or both.  Use the Direct Opening or the Subtle Approach.

§       Petty:  A situation in which the audience considers you or your message not worth their time.  In the petty cause the audience is not so much opposed to you as they are contemptuous.  Use the Subtle Approach.


Conclusion:  See Parts of a Speech.


Deliberative Oratory:  See Divisions of Rhetoric.


Delivery:  See Canons of Rhetoric.


Direct Opening:  An opening in which the rhetorician states clearly his position and what he hopes to accomplish.  It is the first of two ways to begin a discourse, the other of which is the Subtle Approach.  The Direct Opening is only recommended for use with the Honorable Cause and the Doubtful Cause.  (See Causes, Four Types, and Subtle Approach.)


Discreditable Cause:  See Causes, Four Types.


Division:  See Parts of a Speech.


Divisions of Rhetoric:  Aristotle classified all speeches  according to these three categories: Deliberative, Forensic, Epideictic.  Deliberative oratory addresses issues that are yet in the future, for the purpose of persuading men to take one course of action or another for future benefit (e.g., legislative assemblies).  Forensic oratory speaks of the past, debating whether or not an action was done by someone and why, or how; and finally what ought to be done in the light of what happened in the past.  Criminal trials and court cases are examples of Forensic oratory.  Epideictic oratory is less concerned with action and more concerned with belief.  By Epideictic oratory we are persuaded to praise or blame someone or something.


Doubtful Cause:  See Causes, Four Types.


Epideictic Oratory:  See Divisions of Rhetoric.


Ethos:  One of the artistic means of persuasion.  Ethos uses the reputation of the speaker, and comprises the various ways in which it can be developed or improved.  (See Pathos and Logos.)


Forensic Oratory:  See Divisions of Rhetoric.


Grand Style: A speaking style characterized by ornate language and elaborate descriptions, used to create a suitable setting for great subjects.  The Grand Style is appropriate for use with a sophisticated audience.  (See Middle Style and Simple Style.)


Honorable Cause: See Causes, Four Types.


Imitation:  One of the three means for attaining proficiency in the science of rhetoric.  The methods by which the student becomes familiar with the work of great rhetoricians in order to imitate them.  In the classical world, Imitation involved the memorization and delivery of great speeches.  (See Theory and Practice.)


Introduction:  See Parts of a Speech.


Invention:  See Canons of Rhetoric.


Logos: One of the artistic means of persuasion.  Logos is the use of the message itself with didactic argument, in order to show a truth or apparent truth.  (See Ethos and Pathos.)


Means of Persuasion:  One of the two major parts of the definition of rhetoric used in this text.  Aristotle identifies certain means of persuasion, such as evidence, witnesses, contracts, and other supporting data as not belonging specifically to the study of rhetoric.  He does set forth three “artistic means of persuasion,” ethos, pathos and logos, by which the rhetorician uses his own reputation and personality, the audience’s sympathies and emotions, and arguments and proofs, in order to persuade his hearers. 


Media: The physical carriers (signs) of message from one person to another.  This book considers three main types: textual, aural (or audible), and visual.  Textual media account for written words.  Aural media correspond to the spoken word first, but also include music and other kinds of audible signs.  The visual media do in a technical sense include the textual media; but because the written word is important enough to be considered on its own I use visual media primarily for the consideration of pictures, both still and motion, which communicate meaning to us and have a persuasive influence on us.  


Memory:  See Canons of Rhetoric.


Middle Section:  See Parts of a Speech.


Middle Style:  A speaking style characterized by relaxed and direct language, which presents the message in a distinguished, though not elaborate way.  This style is suitable for most ordinary subjects and a broad range of audiences.  (See Grand Style and Simple Style.)


Parts of a Speech:  The Introduction, the Middle, and the Conclusion.  These three parts will be found in almost every speech.  The Middle section may be further subdivided into three parts.  This subdivision is optional, but at the very least an Introduction, a Middle, and a Conclusion ought to be used by the beginning rhetorician.


Introduction:  One of the parts of a speech.  The Introduction proper begins the speech and is used to establish rapport with the audience.  Lesser introductions may be used at the beginning of any major section divisions of the speech, or to introduce new material that needs some explanation to connect it to the rest of the speech.


Middle:  One of the parts of a speech.  Here, the speaker develops his position, usually by explaining and describing his point of view (Statement of Facts), and by presenting arguments for it and answering arguments against it (Proof and Refutation).


Statement of Facts (Narrative):  A subdivision of the Middle section.  Here the rhetorician sets forth the facts of the subject matter from his perspective.  The material set forth here will often be the source of premises used in the Proof and Refutation.


Division:  A subdivision of the Middle section.  Here, the speaker explains and clarifies points of difference between himself and his audience or opponent.  He also defines any special use of terms, and outlines the crucial issues of the case from his perspective.  The Division is often a specialized connection between a Statement of Facts and a Proof and Refutation, although any part of a speech involving the definition of terms or outlining points of disagreement can be considered division.


Proof and Refutation:  A subdivision of the Middle section.  Here, the rhetorician presents the arguments for his case and refutes objections to it.  Premises for these arguments are often drawn from the Statement of Facts.  


Conclusion:  One of the parts of a speech.  The Conclusion proper ends the speech and comprises a recapitulation of previous points.  It may include an appeal to the audience.  Lesser conclusions can be used at a number of places in a speech to reemphasize or review points made in the section just previous.  Conclusions are concentrations of the force of the previous material of the speech.


Pathos:  One of the artistic means of persuasion.  Pathos is used to move or control the attitude or emotions of the audience. (See Ethos and Logos.)


Petty Cause:  See Causes, Four Types.


Plato’s View of Rhetoric:   As expressed in the dialogue Gorgias, Plato’s opinion of the function and value of rhetoric was low (he called it “cookery in words” and “practiced flattery”).  He seems to admit some use (apparently the exception rather than the rule) for rhetoric in a perfect society, in the dialogue Phaedrus.  (Contrast with Aristotle’s Definition of Rhetoric.)


Practice:  One of the three means for attaining proficiency in the science of rhetoric.  When the rhetorician puts the principles of rhetoric and his familiarity with good rhetoric to use in creating his own discourse, this is Practice.  (See Imitation and Theory.)


Proof and Refutation:  See Parts of a Speech.


Receptive: One of the qualities the rhetorician is supposed to cultivate in the audience; the indication that the audience is not only willing to listen, but willing to hear what he has to say, and consider it.  (See Attentive and Well Disposed.) 


Rhetorical Situation:  One of the two major parts of the definition of rhetoric used in this text.  “Rhetorical Situation” is in this case synonymous with the “given situation” in Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric.  The Rhetorical Situation is the real world situation in which the rhetorician uses the means of persuasion.  It always involves the relationship between a communicator, the one being communicated to, and the communication in between.  The theory of Rhetorical Situation is used by the rhetorician to diagnose his strengths and weaknesses in each situation so that he will more readily meet the rhetorical challenges.  (See Means of Persuasion.) 


Simple (or Low) Style: A speaking style characterized by a breezy and chatty atmosphere, using the most common lingo of the streets.  This style is suitable for young audiences and can lend ethos an amicable and easy-going flavor.  (See Grand Style and Middle Style.)


Statement of Facts: See Parts of a Speech.


Stasis:  A word derived from the Greek word for “stand,” especially as referring to the stance of a boxer.  In rhetoric the word is used to denote the question at issue, or the crucial point of contention between two sides in a case.  It forms an important element in the invention of Proof and Refutation, and in the thrust of the whole argument.


Style: See Canons of Rhetoric.  Also see Grand Style, Middle Style, and Simple Style.


Subtle Approach:  An opening in which the rhetorician leads up gradually to his main topic, not introducing it immediately.  It is the second of two ways to begin a discourse, the first of which is the Direct Opening.  The Subtle Approach may be used with all four types of causes.  (See Causes, Four Types and Direct Opening.)


Theory:  One of the three means for attaining proficiency in the science of rhetoric.  It is the systematic study of the parts and principles of rhetoric, especially as considered in the abstract.  (See Imitation and Practice.)


Topics:  In rhetoric, a category under which to list the different kinds of things it is possible to talk about in discourse.  Topics comprise a sizable amount of the material concerning rhetoric in Aristotle’s On Rhetoric.  In this text we consider only these general topics:  1) to speak of yourself, 2) to speak of your audience, 3) to speak of your adversaries, 4) to speak of the facts. 


Trivium:  Three canonical disciplines for students, as formulated in the classical system, especially as codified by Cassiodorus and revived in our day by the Classical Christian schooling movement.  Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric are the three disciplines, which correspond to three stages in a child’s development.  


Well-Disposed: One of the three qualities the rhetorician is supposed to cultivate in his audience.  The audience in such a disposition will not only listen willingly but will even hope that the speaker is right, wanting to believe him.  (See Attentive and Receptive.)