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The Art of Rhetoric Essay

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The importance of persuasion has long been recognized by many philosophers and political leaders who could pursue different objectives (Hexter 3). In both ancient and modern times, the rhetoric is associated with the ability of a person to convince other people and prompt them to a certain action. It is possible to say that the definition of rhetoric has not evolved considerably. However, there is a significant difference that should not be overlooked.

In particular, ancient orators usually addressed a very limited group of people such as the Roman senators. In contrast, modern people often have to address very wide audiences. Their oral or written messages can be received by millions of people. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about political leaders or social activists. As a rule, they need to find arguments that can be understood and accepted by people who may represent different social, cultural, or religious groups. Therefore, the task to persuade can be much more challenging. Nevertheless, in both cases, the use of rhetoric can be critical for the long-term development of the society.

While discussing the importance of rhetoric in the ancient world, one can mention Cicero’s speeches known as Catiline Orations (Pernot 109). They were aimed at exposing the plot against the government (Pernot 109).

Overall, it is possible to argue that Cicero succeeded in averting the coup d’etat that could threaten the existence of the Roman Republic. More importantly, Cicero was able to convince the senators that they needed to take action against politicians who planned this coup d’etat. Overall, Cicero was able to change the course of the Roman history. To some degree, he shaped the development of the entire ancient world. This is one of the details that can be distinguished.

Additionally, it is possible to mention the speech that Winston Churchill made in 1940. It is known as the Blood, toil, tears and sweat. In particular, the British Prime Minister warned the public about the dangers of the war with the Third Reich. In particular, he noticed that the citizens of the country should be ready for hardships. More importantly, in his opinion, the victory in this war was critical for the survival of Great Britain in the long term. To a great extent, this integrity proved to be beneficial because people could put more trust in Churchill’s decisions and policies. Nowadays, this speech is regarded as a great example of rhetoric. These examples indicate that the skillful use of rhetoric techniques can have profound implications for the society. These are the main arguments that can be advanced.

Aristotle’s views on rhetoric continue to be influential because he identified the key methods that a person could use in order to change the opinion of the audience or persuade these people to do something (Gross and Walzer 197). They continue to be widely applied nowadays. On the whole, in his books, Aristotle argues that rhetoric can be defined as the ability of a person to choose a technique that can best influence the audience (Gross and Walzer 197; Aristotle 6).

Overall, this philosopher implies that rhetoric can be viewed as a skill that every educated person should acquire and develop. One can say that his views profoundly influenced the practices of many educators who could represent different historical periods or cultures.

In his works Aristotle introduces such concepts as ethos, logos and pathos which can be viewed as different methods of appealing to the audience. In particular, a person can appeal to his/her credibility. In other words, the speaker needs to emphasize that he/she is sufficiently qualified to make arguments about a certain topic. Under such circumstances, speakers tend to refer to their expertise in a particular field.

Additionally, people can lay stress on the rational validity of their claims. They try to show that their claims are based on empirical evidence or logic. This approach seems to be the most convincing one because a person does not try to impose unfounded opinions on other people. Finally, an individual can attach importance to the emotions of the audience. Under such circumstances, a person tries to evoke the sympathy of the listeners.

According to Aristotle, an orator should combine these appeals (Gross and Walzer 197). Nevertheless, there are situations when a person can give preference to only one of these methods (Gross and Walzer 197). In this case, much attention should be paid to the setting in which a certain speech is made (Aristotle 6). This is one of the issues that should not be overlooked.

Overall, one can argue that Aristotle’s views continue to be influential, and the main concepts that he outlined in his works are important for analyzing the arguments put forward by other people. Furthermore, the knowledge of these concepts can help a person avoid the risk of being manipulated. Moreover, they are critical for understanding how to create more convincing oral or written messages that should be conveyed to wide audiences. These are the main details that can be singled out.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Rhetoric, Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 2010. Print.

Hexter, John. “The Rhetoric of History.” History and Theory 6. 1 (1967): 3-13. Print.

Gross, Alan, and Arthur Walzer. Rereading Aristotle’s Rhetoric, New York, SIU Press, 2008. Print.

Pernot, Laurent. Rhetoric in Antiquity, New York: CUA Press, 2005. Print.

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