Aristotle’s Rhetoric

Oxford Dictionaries Online (2016) defines the Latin word, rhetoric, as, ‘the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.’ This modern definition still supports how philosopher and scientist, Aristotle, defined rhetoric in his book. He defines rhetoric, ‘…as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion,’ (Aristotle 350 B.C.E.). Ames (2016) makes the link between Aristotle and Shakespeare and how their writing is still important and relevant in modern times as they discuss themes that are still current even though they were written hundreds of years ago.

One of the key points Aristotle makes about rhetorical speech is that, ‘rhetoric falls into three divisions, determined by the three classes of listeners to speeches,’ (Aristotle 350 B.C.E.). He states that these are political, forensic, and the ceremonial oratory of display. The reason for this is that they each represent a different part of time. Aristotle (350 B.C.E.) states that political speaking (urging to do or not to do something) is concerned with the future, forensic speaking (attacking or defending somebody) is concerned with the past, and the ceremonial oratory of display (praising or censuring somebody) is concerned with the present.

Aristotle treats rhetoric as a science and believes that the study of it can assist in the defence of truth and justice (SparkNotes Editors 2005). Another key point Aristotle (350 B.C.E.) makes about rhetorical speech is that each kind of rhetoric has its own appropriate style – written and spoken. This again, is still relevant today and is even the name of this course; Speech and Script. He also discusses mainly that enthymemes are the substance of rhetorical persuasion, meaning where one of the premises spoken is not clearly revealed (Aristotle 350 B.C.E. & Oxford Dictionaries Online 2016).

My Use of Rhetoric

Listen here:

Review: In Defense of Rhetoric: No Longer Just for Liars


The video – produced by graduate students in the MA in Professional Communication program at Clemson University – ‘…explains why popular notions of rhetoric are inaccurate and demonstrates how rhetoric actually produces new knowledge,’ (Clemson English 2011). At the beginning, Clemson English (2011) defines rhetoric as, ‘the study of the technique of using language effectively.’ They discuss how all choices are rhetorical including; when we persuade, when we make purchases, and when we make emotional appeals.

Another key argument stated was when there was talk of making rhetoric a discipline across universities. This movement did not progress however, as rhetoricians also wanted rhetoric to weld everything together (Clemson English 2011). They add that at many points in the history of rhetoric, people began to suppose that it was not necessary to learn the process of communication and therefore were not accepting or rhetorical studies. As said in the video, rhetoric is something that cannot be suppressed, as it is prevalent in culture and in language (Clemson English 2011). It is beneficial for students as it is not only the forefront of technology, but influences the way we communicate throughout our lives.


Reference List

Ames, K 2016, COMM12033: Speech and Script Lesson 3: Rhetoric: study guide, CQUniversity e-courses,

Aristotle. (350 B.C.E.) Rhetoric. Rhys Roberts, W. (Trans). Retrieved from

Clemson English 2011, In Defense of Rhetoric: No Longer Just for Liars, viewed 26 March 2016,

Oxford Dictionaries Online 2016, Enthymeme, viewed 25 March 2016,

Oxford Dictionaries Online 2016, Rhetoric, viewed 25 March 2016,

SparkNotes Editors 2005, SparkNote on Aristotle, viewed 25 March 2016,


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