Aristotle's Rhetoric

Index to Book II

Chapter 1 (1378a)

Since rhetoric -- political and forensic rhetoric, at any rate -- exists to affect the giving of decisions, the orator must not only try to make the argument of his speech demonstrative and worthy of belief; he must also (1) make his own character look right and (2) put his hearers, who are to decide, into the right frame of mind. As to his own character; he should make his audience feel that he possesses prudence, virtue, and goodwill. This is especially important in a deliberative assembly. In the law courts it is especially important that he should be able to influence the emotions, or moral affections, of the jury who try the case. Definition of the several emotions. In regard to each emotion we must consider (a) the states of mind in which it is felt; (b) the people towards whom it is felt; (c) the grounds on which it is felt.

Chapter 2 (1378b, 1379a, 1379b, 1380a)

In chapters 2-11, the various emotions are defined, and are also discussed (with incidental observations) from the three points of view just indicated. In chapter 2, Anger is the subject. The orator must so speak as to make his hearers angry with his opponents.

Chapter 3 (1380b)

Calmness (as the opposite of Anger).

Chapter 4 (1381a, 1381b, 1382a)

Friendship and Enmity.

Chapter 5 (1382b, 1383a, 1383b)

Fear and Confidence.

Chapter 6 (1384a, 1384b, 1385a)

Shame and Shamelessness.

Chapter 7 (1385b)

Kindness and Unkindness.

Chapter 8 (1386a, 1386b)


Chapter 9 (1387a, 1387b)


Chapter 10 (1388a)


Chapter 11 (1388b)


Chapter 12 (1389a, 1389b)

The various types of human character are next considered, in relation to the various emotions and moral qualities and to the various ages and fortunes. By "ages" are meant youth, the prime of life, and old age; by "fortunes" are meant birth, wealth, power, and their opposites. The youthful type of character is thereupon depicted.

Chapter 13 (1390a)

The character of elderly men.

Chapter 14 (1390b)

The character of men in their prime. -- The body is in its prime from thirty to five-and-thiry; the mind about forty-nine.

Chapter 15

The gifts of fortune by which human character is affected. First, good birth.

Chapter 16 (1391a)

Second, wealth.

Chapter 17 (1391b)

Third, power.

Chapter 18 (1392a)

Retrospect, and glance forward. The forms of argument common to all oratory will next be discussed.

Chapter 19 (1392b, 1393a)

The four general lines of argument are: (1) The Possible and Impossible; (2) Fact Past; (3) Fact Future; (4) Degree.

Chapter 20 (1393b, 1394a)

The two general modes of persuasion are: (1) the example, (2) the enthymeme; the maxim being part of the enthymeme. Examples are either (a) historical parallels, or (b) invented parallels, viz. either (a) illustrations or (b) fables, such as those of Aesop. Fables are suitable for popular addresses; and they have this advantage, that they are comparatively easy to invent, whereas it is hard to find parallels among actual past events.

Chapter 21 (1394b, 1395a, 1395b)

Use of maxims. A maxim is a general statement about questions of practical conduct. It is an incomplete enthymeme. Four kinds of maxims. Maxims should be used (a) by elderly men, and (b) to controvert popular sayings. Advantages of maxims: (a) they enable a speaker to gratify his commonplace hearers by expressing as a universal truth the opinions which they themselves hold about particular cases; (b) they invest a speech with moral character.

Chapter 22 (1396a, 1396b, 1397a)

Enthymemes. In enthymemes we must not carry our reasoning too far back, nor must we put in all the steps that lead to our conclusion. There are two kinds of enthymemes: (a) the demonstrative, formed by the conjunction of compatible propositions; (b) the refutative, formed by the conjuction of incompatible propositions.

Chapter 23 (1397b, 1398a, 1398b, 1399a, 1399b, 1400a, 1400b)

Enumeration of twenty-eight topics (lines of argument) on which enthymemes, demonstrative and refutative, can be based. Two general remarks are added: (a) the refutative enthymeme has a greater reputation than the demonstrative, because within a small space it works out two opposing arguments, and arguments put side by side are clearer to the audience; (b) of all syllogisms, whether refutative or demonstrative, those are most applauded of which we foresee the conclusions from the beginning, so long as they are not obvious at first sight -- for part of pleasure we feel is at our own intelligent anticipation; or those which we follow well enough to see the point of them as soon as the last word has been uttered.

Chapter 24 (1401a, 1401b, 1402a)

Nine topics of apparent, or sham, enthymemes.

Chapter 25 (1402b, 1403a)

Refutation. An argument may be refuted either by a counter-syllogism or by bringing an objection. Objections may be raised in four ways: (a) by directly attacking your opponent's own statement; (b) by putting forward another statement like it; (c) by putting forward a statement contrary to it; (d) by quoting previous decisions.

Chapter 26 (1403b)

Correction of two errors, possible or actual: (1) Amplification and Depreciation do not constitute an element of enthymeme, in the sense of "a line of enthymematic argument"; (2) refutative enthymemes are not a different species from constructive. This brings to an end the treatment of the thought-element of rhetoric -- the way to invent and refute persuasive arguments. There remain the subjects of (A) style and (B) arrangement.

Lee Honeycutt ( Last modified:3/16/04