Speech, argumentation and discussion are in themselves an art . Few are those who know how to convince through a neatly ordered argument , and therefore it is important to know about rhetoric .


What is rhetoric?

We understand it as the art or discipline of the act of arguing . It crosses different areas of knowledge. Its ultimate purpose is persuasion , trying to get the rhetorician to gain victory over some plot conflict.

  • Rhetoric meaning
  • Etymology
  • Characteristics of rhetoric
  • Source
  • History
  • Types of rhetoric
  • Elements
  • Legal rhetoric
  • Political rhetoric
  • How is it different from public speaking?
  • Importance
  • Examples

Rhetoric meaning

In the world and in life, one can find many perspectives on an issue. Many blind men can find themselves in a room with an elephant, and argue that the part they play is the only true part. In these situations, one can meet another person who puts his own arguments on something , and on that something wants to convince , impose his truth about it.


Many say that the truth does not exist, that everything is a matter of perspectives and conviction. If so, then the question arises: How to convince of a truth? How to win the duel of the arguments?

It is precisely on this point that rhetoric specializes. Used in the past by the sophists , the rhetorician is the specialist of conviction . Use different techniques to assert one argument over any other. For the rhetorician, the validity of an argument does not matter so much, its closeness to the truth in abstract . The important thing about rhetoric is conviction . It is the victory of one’s own argument.


Its etymology is, of course, of Greco-Latin roots. Its origins can be traced to the Greek rethorike techne , or what is the same, “the art of the speaker” or “the technique of the speaker . ” Rethorike is, in turn, a conjugation of other Greek words. Rethor can be seen, in this case, as the grouping of the verb eiro (I speak) and tor (agent).

Characteristics of rhetoric

  • It consists, in essence, of the art of argumentation .
  • It was originally used by the sophists . Its first exponents would be Protagoras and Gorgias .
  • It maintains the non-existence of the truth. Argues that this is just a derivation of the speech.
  • The truth is, in essence, an act of convincing about the mentality of others.
  • Various procedures are used to arrive at this truth. We can observe among them the technique of Making Absurdity or Generalization as strategies that dispense with logical validity to reach the point of conviction.
  • They use the emotions and weaknesses of someone else’s speech to achieve the victory of their own argument.


Like much of the philosophical, its principles are in the Greek. Classic are the conflicts between Socrates and the sophists, whom he branded as charlatans and jugglers of the truth. The first rhetoricians, it is said, were born in Syracuse . After the fall of the tyrants, many citizens tried to recover their lost lands through the resources that the word allowed. Its origins, it can be seen, have a more political and legal source than literary and philosophical .


Of course they started in Greece, but the rhetoricians were not limited to these lands. We have, for example, the Roman case of Cicero . Cicero was one of the most important personages of the decadent Roman republic, and from whose pen was born one of the most important treatises on applications of rhetoric. He and other authors have works on rhetoric that are still taken into account today. Its evolution, of course, continued to spread over the centuries, to the point that it was the instrument of conviction of great tyrants of the 20th century . Famous are Hitler’s rhetorical speeches . Its power of conviction is a phenomenon that is still being studied in depth even now.

Types of rhetoric

Rhetoric, like most philosophical concepts, is not one. We can trace the following typology:

  • Judicial genre: used mainly to make conviction of innocence or guilt. It is the rhetorical genre used before judges.
  • Political genre: its center is in the events that have not yet happened. A speaker tries to convince a group of magistrates of some decision to take.
  • Demonstrative gender : which tries to exalt or repudiate any figure or person. It is usually done before an audience.


It has the following elements or parts that compose it:

  • Invention.
  • Provision.
  • Memory.
  • Elocution.
  • Action.

Legal rhetoric

Used mainly in the field of trials, it is the technique used by magistrates and legal specialists . As mentioned above, its objective is to confirm the innocence or not of a figure. The specialists speak to a judge about events from the past, and try to convince him about the positioning of the accused figure between one of the points of the pole.

Political rhetoric

It is distinguished from the previous one by focusing on events other than the past. Instead of focusing on what happened, you focus on the future . The events to happen are the specialty of the politician. The politician has to make decisions that commit a State, and therefore, its citizens. The decisions that are made can be more or less valid. The object of the orator or rhetorician is to draw attention back to a pole of political action .

How is it different from public speaking?

Like many philosophical concepts, it is easy to get carried away by associations. The difference between concepts is usually somewhat obscure to the non-specialist reader. How to differentiate the speaker from the rhetorician? Essentially, its differentiation is that rhetoric is a whole theoretical apparatus whose application may or may not be verbal . That is, it can be taken to the written act, or others.

The orator, on the other hand, carries in the act everything contained in rhetoric . It is about trying to put a topic into discursive, verbal practice, before a specialized or non-specialized audience. This theme may have been armed through the rhetorical resources already exposed.


To highlight its importance is to highlight its influence on the various current human disciplines . We can see it in politics, in sociology, in law, in psychology and in other disciplines.


Let’s see some of the examples of this discipline:

  • Ellipse
  • Euphemism
  • Metaphor
  • Hyperbole
  • Metonymy

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