Laws of rhetoric: basic principles and laws, features

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Laws of rhetoric: basic principles and laws, features
Laws of rhetoric: basic principles and laws, features

Since thinking and speech are the privilege of man, the greatest interest is given to studying the relationship between them. This task is performed by rhetoric. The laws of rhetoric are the practice of the great masters. This is a clever analysis of the ways in which brilliant writers have succeeded. You can learn about the basic principles and the name of the law of general rhetoric in this article.


Rhetoric is the art of speaking correctly. It is a very serious science, meant to educate people, to control passions, to correct morals, to uphold laws, to guide public deliberations. The basic law of rhetoric is to force others to accept a thought, a feeling, a decision. Capture the mind, heart and will.


Rhetoric is based on the study of the human spirit and masterpieces of eloquence. Admiration for the powerful effect created by oratorical genius leads a person to look for ways to achieve it. In ancient times, the Greeks highly valued public participation in politicallife. Therefore, rhetoric has become the most important tool for influencing politics. According to sophists such as Gorgias, a successful speaker could speak persuasively on any topic, regardless of his experience in this field.

Oratory in antiquity

History of Creation

Rhetoric originates in Mesopotamia. The earliest examples of it can be found in the writings of the priestess and princess Enheduanna (circa 2280-2240 BC). Later - in the scrolls of the Neo-Assyrian state during the time of Sennacherib (700-680 BC).

In ancient Egypt, the art of persuasion appeared during the Middle Kingdom. The Egyptians highly valued eloquence. This skill was of great importance in their social life. The Egyptian laws of rhetoric state that knowing when to be silent is respected and necessary. This approach is a balance between eloquence and wise silence.

In ancient China, rhetoric goes back to Confucius. His tradition emphasized the use of beautiful turns of phrase.

In ancient Greece, the use of oratory was first mentioned in Homer's Iliad. His Achilles, Odysseus and Hector were honored for their inherent ability to advise and admonish their peers and associates in wise and proper action.

Orator of ancient Greece

Scope of application

Scholars have debated the scope of rhetoric since ancient times. Some limit it to a specific area of ​​political discourse, others cover all aspects of culture. Modern researchlaws of general rhetoric affect a much wider range of areas than was the case in antiquity. At that time, speakers learned effective persuasion in public forums and institutions such as courtrooms and assembly halls. The laws of modern rhetoric apply to human discourse. It is studied in a wide variety of fields, including social and natural sciences, religion, visual arts, journalism, fiction, digital media, history, architecture, and cartography, as well as more traditional legal and political fields.

Orator of ancient Rome

Civil Art

Rhetoric was considered a civil art by some ancient philosophers. Aristotle and Isocrates were the first to see her in this light. They argued that the laws of speech and the rules of rhetoric are a fundamental part of the social life of every state. This science is capable of shaping the character of a person. Aristotle believed that the art of persuasion could be used in public places in three different ways:

  1. Political.
  2. Judicial.
  3. Ceremonial.

Rhetoric is a public art capable of forming an opinion. Some of the ancients, including Plato, found fault with her. They argued that it could be used to deceive or manipulate, with negative consequences for civil society. The masses were incapable of analyzing or deciding anything on their own, so they could be swayed by the most persuasive speeches. Civil life couldcontrolled by those figures who knew how to deliver the best speech. This concern continues to this day.

Philosopher Aristotle

Early School

Throughout the centuries, the study and teaching of the laws and rules of rhetoric has been adapted to the specific requirements of time and place. It corresponded to a variety of applications: from architecture to literature. Learning originated in the school of philosophers known as the sophists around 600 BC. e. Demosthenes and Lysias became the chief orators during this period, while Isocrates and Gorgias were prominent teachers. Rhetorical education is built on the four laws of rhetoric:

  • invention (inventio);
  • memory (memoria);
  • style (elocutio);
  • action (actio).

Modern teaching continues to refer to these laws in discussions of the classical art of persuasion.

Rhetoric in politics

School of the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, the laws of rhetoric were taught in universities as one of the three original liberal subjects, along with logic and grammar. With the rise of European monarchs in the following centuries, it moved into court and religious applications. Augustine had a strong influence on Christian rhetoric during this time, advocating its use in the church.

After the fall of the Roman Republic, poetry became the instrument of rhetorical training. The letter was considered the main form through which state and church affairs were conducted. The study of verbal art has been in decline for several centuries. AfterThis was followed by a gradual increase in formal education, culminating in the rise of medieval universities. Late medieval rhetorical writings include Saint Thomas Aquinas and Matthew of Vendôme.

Modern speaker

Late School

In the 16th century, education in rhetoric was more restrained. Influential scientists such as Ramus believed that the process of invention and organization should be elevated to the realm of philosophy.

In the 18th century, the art of persuasion began to play a more serious role in social life. This led to the emergence of a new education system. "Schools of oratory" began to emerge. In them, women analyzed works of classical literature and discussed pronunciation tactics.

With the rise of democratic institutions in the late XVIII - early XIX centuries. the study of the subject experienced a renaissance. Scottish writer and theorist Hugh Blair became a true supporter and leader of the new movement. In his Lectures on Rhetoric and Fiction, he promotes persuasion as a resource for social success.

Throughout the twentieth century, this science has developed as a concentrated field of study with the creation of courses in rhetoric in many educational institutions.

Rhetoric in science


The four laws of rhetoric, discovered by Aristotle, serve as a guide to the emergence of persuasive arguments and messages. This is:

  • developing and arranging processarguments (invention);
  • choosing how to deliver your speech (style);
  • process of learning words and persuasive messages (memory);
  • pronunciation, gestures, tempo and tone (delivery).

There is an intellectual discussion going on in this area. Some argue that Aristotle considers rhetoric to be the art of persuasion. Others believe it implies the art of judgment.

One of Aristotle's most famous doctrines was the idea of ​​"common themes". The term most commonly referred to "places of argument" (a list of modes of reasoning and categories of thought) that a speaker could use to generate arguments or proofs. Topics were an inventive tool to help classify and better apply frequently used arguments.

Rhetoric in court

Analysis methods

The laws of rhetoric can be analyzed by various methods and theories. One of them is criticism. This is not the scientific method. It implies subjective methods of argumentation. Critics use various means in studying a particular rhetorical artifact, and some of them even develop their own unique methodology. Contemporary criticism explores the relationship between text and context. Determining the degree of persuasiveness of the text, you can explore its relationship with the audience, purpose, ethics, argumentation, evidence, location, delivery and style.

Another method is analytics. The object of rhetorical analysis is usually discourse. Therefore, it is very similar to discursive analysis. aimrhetorical analysis is not just a description of the statements and arguments put forward by the speaker, but the definition of specific semiotic strategies. Once analysts discover language use, they move on to questions:

  • How does it work?
  • What impact does it have on the audience?
  • How does this effect give more clues about the speaker's goals?
Rhetoric in religion


Rhetorical strategy is the author's desire to convince or inform his readers. Writers use it. There are various argumentation strategies that are used in writing. The most common ones are:

  • arguments from analogy;
  • arguments from absurdity;
  • thought research;
  • conclusions for better explanation.
Rhetoric in business

In today's world

At the turn of the 20th century there was a revival of rhetoric. This was manifested in the creation of departments of rhetoric and speech at educational institutions. National and international professional organizations are being formed. Twentieth century studies have offered an understanding of the laws of rhetoric as the "rich complexity" of oratory. The rise of advertising and the development of the media have brought rhetoric into people's lives.

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