The Rhetoric has three books in it.

Book I is a general overview of Rhetoric, offering a purpose and definition of rhetoric.  It goes over rhetorics major parts and types.

Book II discusses the three means of persuasion that an orator uses: those founded in credibility (ethos), in the emotions and psychology of the audience (pathos), and in patterns of reasoning (logos).

Book III introduces elements of style (word choice, metaphor, and sentence structure) and arrangement (organization).  Discusses delivery, but Poetics goes into detail on that area.


BOOK I Important Parts…

Chapter One – Aristotle first defines rhetoric as the counterpart (antistrophos) of dialect (Bk. 1:1:1-2). He explains the similarities between the two but fails to comment on the differences. Here he introduces the term enthymeme (Bk. 1:1:3). This chapter is inconsistent with what follows in the others however.

Chapter Two – Aristotle’s famous definition of rhetoric is viewed as the ability in any particular case to see the available means of persuasion. He defines pisteis as atechnic (inartistic) and entechnic (artistic). Of the pisteis provided through speech there are three parts: ethos, pathos, and logos. He introduces paradigms and syllogisms as means of persuasion.

Chapter Three – Introduces the three genres of rhetoric: deliberative, forensic, epideictic. Here he also touches on the “ends” the orators of each of these genres hope to reach with their persuasions – which are discussed in further detail in later chapters (Bk. 1:3:5-7).

BOOK II Important Parts…

Chapter 1: Introduction In Chapter 1, Aristotle notes that emotions cause men to change their opinion in regard to their judgments. As such, emotions have specific causes and effects (Book 2.1.2-3). Thus, a speaker can employ his understanding as a stimulus for the sought emotion from an audience. However, Aristotle states that along with pathos, the speaker must also exhibit ethos, which for Aristotle encompasses wisdom (phronesis), virtue (arête), and good will (eunoia) (Book 2.1.5-9).

Chapters 2-11: Efficacious Emotions for Speakers in All Genres of Rhetoric Chapters 2-11 explore those emotions useful to a rhetorical speaker. Aristotle provides an account on how to arouse these emotions in an audience so that a speaker might be able to produce the desired action successfully (Book 2.2.27). Aristotle arranges the discussion of the emotions in opposing pairs, such as anger and calmness or friendliness and enmity. For each emotion, Aristotle discusses the person’s state of mind, against whom one directs the emotion, and for what reasons (Book 2.1.9). It is pertinent to understand all the components in order to stimulate a certain emotion within another person.

Chapters 12-17: Ethos: Adapting the Character of the Speech to the Character of the Audience George A. Kennedy in On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse remarks that ethos predominantly refers to the “moral character” of actions and mind. On page 148, Kennedy reveals the purpose of chapters 12-17 as a demonstration to the speaker of “how his ethos must attend and adjust to the ethos of varied types of auditor if he is to address them successfully.”[17] As seen in the chapters explaining the various emotions, in chapters 12-17 Aristotle focuses on the necessary means of successfully persuading an audience.

Yet, in these chapters, Aristotle analyzes the character of different groups of people so that a speaker might adjust his portrayed ethos in order to influence the audience.

Chapters 18-26: Dialectical Features of Rhetoric Common to All Three Genres Although Book II primarily focuses on ethos and pathos, Aristotle discusses paradigm and enthymeme as two common modes of persuasion. There exist two kinds of paradigm: comparisons, referencing that which has happened before, and fables, inventing an illustration (Book 2.20.2-3). Maxims, or succinct, clever statements about actions, serve as the conclusion of enthymemes (Book 2.1-2). In choosing a maxim, one should assess the audience views and employ a fitting maxim (Book 2.21.15-16). Amplification and deprecation, although not elements of an enthymeme, can contribute to refuting an opponent’s enthymeme or revealing a falsehood by exposing it as just or unjust, good or evil, etc.

BOOK III Important Parts…

Book III contains informative material on lexis (style) which refers to the “way of saying” (in Chapters 1-12) and taxis, which refers to the arrangement of words (in Chapters 13-19).

hypokrisis (pronuntiatio)-Aristotle argues that voice should be used to most accurately represent the given situation mostly by a poetic.

 arête-which is defined as virtue or excellence. When applied to rhetoric, arête means natural rather than forced or artificial (Bk. 3 2:1-4).

Metaphors are also addressed as a skill that cannot be taught and should bestow “verbal beauty” also discusses archaic words and similes. Goes over other figurative language like hyperbole ect.

  • Chapter 13- Covers the necessary parts of a speech which include the prosthesis (which is the statement of the propostion) and then the pistis (which is the proof of the statement), along with the prooemium (introduction) and epilogue (Bk.3 13:1-4).
  • Chapter 14- Discusses the prooemiun (introduction), which demonstrates how the introduction should be used in both epideictic and judicial speeches. Both have the main goal of signaling the end of the speech (Bk. 3 14:1-11).
  • Chapter 16- Diēgēsis or narration is discussed and demonstrates how one must work through an argument by using logos. Narration differs in epideictic, judicial, and deliberative narratives.
  • Chapter 19- Fittingly, Aristotle’s final chapter in Book III discusses epilogues, which are the conclusion of speeches and must include four things: “disposing the hearer favorably toward the speaker and unfavorably to the opponent, amplifying and minimizing, moving the hearer into emotional reactions, and giving reminder of the speech’s main points” (Bk. 3 19:1-4).
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