Rhetoric

Rhetoric has gotten an undeservedly bad rap in recent decades. The only ways most people know the word are derogatory: a question where no answer is expected is a rhetorical question, and politicians who are all talk and no action are using empty rhetoric. But the ancient art of rhetoric, one of the seven liberal arts, deserves more respect than that.

Rhetoric, simply stated, is the art of persuasion — using language to convince or sway an audience — or the study of that art. Able rhetoricians, including good writers and good lawyers, know how to make their points effectively, by arranging their arguments and choosing the appropriate language in which to convey them.

Classical rhetoricians divided the field into several varieties:

Those who study rhetoric have classified many hundreds of figures of speech, sometimes strictly ornamental, but often concerned with achieving certain effects. Many of them are used only by professional rhetoricians (erotesis, hypophora, epidiorthosis), and you needn't worry about them. But others are handy means of describing uses of literary language. See the entries in this guide for:


From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
Please send comments to Jack Lynch.
Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
Three question marks mean I have to write more on the subject. Bear with me.