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Classical personification of rhetoric as regina artis , d. H. Queen of the Liberal Arts (representation from the Mantegna Tarocchi , Northern Italy around 1470)

Rhetoric ( ancient Greek ῥητορική (τέχνη) rhētorikḗ (téchnē) , German , the oratory ' ) is the art of speech. It was already known as a discipline in ancient Greece and played a particularly prominent role in the opinion-forming processes of Athens and other poles . The task of the speech is to convince the listener of a statement or to induce a certain action. As the art of speech, rhetoric provides the means for this; as the theory of conviction, it analyzes them. In this respect, rhetoric always has a double task and should be both art and science . On the one hand it is about the art of convincing people of an opinion or moving them to an action, on the other hand it is about the science of effective speech.

Even before the first explicit theory of conviction by Aristotle was worked out, the practice of the rhetoric teachers existed and corresponding manuals existed. The ability to use rhetoric skillfully and successfully was believed to be so important that the entire educational system (the so-called paideia ) of antiquity was geared towards training a future speaker. In this respect, rhetoric was not one subject alongside others, but the main subject, the needs of which all others had to orient themselves. The rhetoric system was developed on the model of the court speech and taught in schools.

The rhetoricians partly belonged to the sophist movement and legitimized the persuasion with the view that a truth does not exist or, if so, that it is not recognizable. In the Middle Ages, rhetoric, along with logic and grammar, was part of the trivium of the canon of the seven liberal arts that emerged in antiquity .

Facsimile of the Strasbourg manuscript of the Hortus Deliciarum der Herrad von Landsberg by Christian Moritz Engelhardt (1818), destroyed in 1870 : Philosophy with the seven liberal arts. The rhetoric with stilus and tabula ( diptych ) to the right of the grammar at the top. The inscription reads: Causarum vires per me, Rhetor alme, requires. (From me, dear speaker, you will draw the strength for the trials.)

The Enlightenment, which strived for unconditional truth, and even more so on the part of Romanticism, which was concerned with the authenticity of feelings, ultimately disdained rhetoric. In addition to her other persuasion strategies, which are suitable for manipulating the judgment of the addressee, her work with frozen conventional topoi also led to this, since these also confirm existing prejudices by linking to actual or even supposed experiences of the addressee. Since then, rhetoric has no longer been regarded as the goal and identification of education, but as a medium of deception and untruth. Their knowledge was now seen primarily as a necessary tool for analyzing and criticizing their strategies. The abuse of rhetoric by the dictators of the 20th century for propaganda purposes did the rest. Both the recourse to rhetorical practice and the use of anti-Semitic topoi or stereotypes (e.g. "Eternal Jew", "Wandering Jew", "corrosive Jewish spirit", "Jewish avarice", "Jewish world conspiracy" etc.) by Adolf Hitler and other National Socialist leading figures such as Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels ( Sportpalastrede ) as well as the high political importance that the rhetoric attained in the socialist dictatorships as so-called socialist rhetoric , which with special socio-political choice of words and interpretation of the political conditions in the sense of the state ideology the authority of the regime and its representatives contributed significantly to their further discrediting.

The rhetoric was now, especially in the Federal Republic of Germany, especially by representatives of subjects such as political science , sociology and educational science viewed as a dangerous weapon of demagoguery, which can only be achieved by imparting knowledge of its psychological foundations, looking through their mechanisms of action and the appropriate evaluation of their Consequences are to be rendered harmless. The imparting of this knowledge and competences has to take place within the framework of an educational concept that has to focus on education for democracy . Looking through rhetorical strategies and techniques as well as critically examining traditional and unquestioned topoi , prejudices , narratives and stereotypes are of crucial importance.

Scientific work on rhetoric deals - especially since the middle of the 20th century - mainly with conversation and questions of speech and conversation pedagogy; her research are among others from the Speech Science , the linguistics (especially the use of language in the advertising language ), the psychology , the pedagogy and sociology .

History of rhetoric

Rhetoric in ancient times

Aristotle the founder of the rhetorical system

The history of rhetoric begins in ancient Greece . In the city-states of ancient Greece , where all male full citizens could participate in political and legal decisions, rhetoric played a major role. Disputes, for example over open land issues after the evictions of tyrants or over different political positions that were relevant to the general public, led to the art of public speaking in greater depth. Those who wanted to get their rights had to be able to present their concerns personally in court. Since the majority of the population was not sufficiently educated for this itself, they looked for speech teachers - like Korax or his pupil Gorgias  - who would help her with the preparation of the speeches or who would do this work for her entirely.

Practical eloquence has always existed (the Homeric epics already reflect on it), but its express teaching as art did not develop until the 5th century BC. Chr. Out of practical needs. This is how the first textbooks on rhetoric came into being, regulating all work steps from the conception of the speech, finding and arranging suitable arguments and their effective linguistic design to memorizing the speech and the oral presentation. Korax was one of the first to deal with persuasive speech and probability inference. Essential elements of rhetoric, such as evidence , circumstantial evidence and the conclusion, persuasion and the right time to add a certain argument, appear here, albeit unsystematically.

In Plato's dialogues ( Gorgias ) , arguments about the art of speaking are also conducted. The central distinction is that between the philosophers and the sophists . The difference is based on epistemological as well as ethical reasons: the sophists are only concerned with the persuasiveness of speech, even if the counterpart is to be convinced of wrong or contradictory. This position is successful, but ethically questionable; for true philosophers it can only be a question of leading to the truth through speech . Socrates is ascribed the invention of maeutics (in the metaphorical sense), the "midwifery art" of skillfully asking questions and interpreting paradoxes , with the help of which a counterpart is ultimately supposed to find the truth "by itself". A positively understood rhetoric must therefore, as Plato explains in Phaedrus , direct the soul ( psychagogy ). Today, however, it is controversial whether the Platonic dialogues are not just presenting a sophistic of their own.

Aristotle was the first to develop a systematic representation of the art of speaking in his rhetoric . He defines it as the "ability to look at what is possibly convincing (pithanon) in every matter " and sees it as a counterpart to the argumentation theory of dialectics . He differentiates between three forms of conviction: the speaker's credibility ( ethos ) , the listener's emotional state ( pathos ) and the argument ( logos ) .

He considers the argument to be the most essential instrument. The rhetorician is particularly convincing because he derives the desired thesis from the convictions of the audience. Aristotle calls this form of argument an enthymeme . For these enthymemes he provides numerous construction instructions - so-called topoi  - such as:

“Another (topos arises) from the more and less, such as: 'If the gods don't know everything, then probably hardly the people.' Because that means: If something does not belong to the person to whom it could be more appropriate, then it is obvious that it does not belong to the person to whom it could not be so appropriate. "

- Rhetoric II 23, 1397b12-15

Aristotle criticizes his contemporaries for the irrelevant arousal of emotions, for example when the accused lets his family appear during the trial in order to arouse pity in this way. This prevents a factual judgment. His own theory of emotion arousal, on the other hand, aims to emphasize existing facts and thus only promote adequate emotions, but prevent inadequate ones. The speaker's character is ultimately convincing if it appears credible, i.e. H. when he is benevolent, good, and virtuous. The optimal linguistic form of a speech is achieved when it appears primarily clear, but neither banal nor sublime. This promotes both understanding and attention. He considers the stylistic device of metaphor to be particularly suitable for this .

Roman rhetoric

After a phase of rejection by the Greek rhetoric teachers, rhetoric lessons also established themselves in Rome. The first Latin rhetoric is the anonymous rhetorica ad Herennium . At about the same time, Cicero's youth work De inventione was created . Other rhetorical writings of Cicero are Orator , Brutus , the Partitiones oratoriae and above all the dialogue De oratore , the culmination of Cicero's preoccupation with rhetoric. Even after the end of the republic, rhetoric instruction remained central, but lost its place in life in Roman culture. Testimony to this is the Dialogus de oratoribus of Tacitus . In research one sometimes speaks of a process of literarisation of rhetoric, which is now the basis of literature production ( Horace ). With Quintilian , a professor of rhetoric was appointed for the first time at the end of the 1st century AD. His Institutio oratoria in twelve books is the sum total of ancient reflections on rhetoric.

The traditional medieval and early modern image of rhetoric as the master of oratory, jurisprudence and poetry, surrounded by famous representatives of these disciplines (woodcut from Gregor Reisch's Margarita Philosophica , 4th authorized edition Basel 1517)

In the Middle Ages, Ciceros De inventione and Quintilians Institutio oratoria became the basis of rhetoric lessons within the framework of the trivium of grammar , dialectics and rhetoric, which formed the basic course and the basis of every academic activity at the universities of Europe. The five extant Latin school speeches by Laurentius von Durham from the middle of the twelfth century, which pretend to be court speeches before a court of the Palatinate Bishop, are very rare occurrences.

Rhetoric in Modern Times

For the entire early modern period (16th to 18th centuries), rhetoric formed the undisputed basis of literature and its theory, poetics . Poets like Martin Opitz or Georg Philipp Harsdörffer wrote German-language poetics, the structure and content of which were based on the model of rhetoric. The poem was considered a speech in the sense of eulogy , and erudition and rhetorical training were required of the poet. The model for this process of vernacularization was the Latin scholarly culture of the early modern period.

The Enlightenment , on the other hand, accused rhetoric of distracting from rational knowledge. It was devalued even more towards the end of the 18th century with the emergence of the aesthetic of genius among German intellectuals. Speeches should now work convincingly because they flowed from the inside of the soul or the heart , and no longer because a certain technique was used as skilfully as possible. In this respect, rhetoric in the 18th century came under the morally colored suspicion of being a strategically manipulative "art of pretending". This devaluation led to rhetoric increasingly disappearing as a subject over the course of the 19th century. Goethe , who was one of the greatest opponents of the rhetorical art theory and described it as the school of pretending, had himself received a rhetorical training. The rhetoric promotes the incitement and is a technique with which it is possible for the speaker to "achieve certain external advantages in bourgeois life". In his Critique of Judgment, Immanuel Kant devalues the art of speaking as a method of making use of the weaknesses of the opponent, which is why it is “not worthy of any respect”.

At a time when rhetoric was only understood to mean the technique of speech, conversation and text analysis, it gained new meaning from the socio-political side, above all through Karl Marx and other social revolutionaries. A socialist rhetoric with a special choice of words developed under communism . She interpreted the political conditions in the sense of Marxism and supported the arguments of its representatives and their power of persuasion in a combative manner. As a result, however, in bourgeois circles the art of speaking as a whole fell into a crooked light.

Walter Jens (Univ. Tübingen) leads the bad reputation of rhetoric in Germany a. a. back to the feudal system of many territorial lords. The essence of rhetoric is the linguistic power of reason, which reflects on morality and humanity, and not a mere technique. Occidental eloquence, however, had sunk to the paucity of German ceremonial rhetoric due to the subjection. Bismarck himself, although a great speaker, had despised rhetoric and was proud of not having been a rhetorician . In the disregard for the word in relation to the deed, there were remnants of a submissive attitude that only knew commands and obeying. This lack of a rhetorical tradition in Germany, unlike in England and France, was a reason for the susceptibility to mass psychological propaganda. For Nietzsche , too , the meaning of speech only begins with the political form of democracy.

In France, on the other hand, where the influence of the ancient rhetoricians was most noticeable since the Middle Ages (in the spiritual realm, among others, Jacques Bénigne Bossuet and Louis Bourdaloue ), the French Revolution sparked a further boost in public eloquence. In England, Parliament encouraged the training of rhetoricians such as William Pitt , Edmund Burke , William Ewart Gladstone , Charles James Fox and Thomas Babington Macaulay .

Rhetoric in the 20th and 21st centuries

In the 20th century, rhetoric was rediscovered by a number of theorists from different perspectives (study of mass culture, theory of reasoning , the foundation of literary studies, etc.). Prominent representatives of this renewed interest in rhetoric include Roland Barthes , Ed Black , Wayne Booth , Kenneth Burke , Karlyn Kohrs Campbell , Dale Carnegie , Edward PJ Corbett , Jacques Derrida , G. Thomas Goodnight , Groupe µ , James Kinneavy , Richard A. Lanham , Paul de Man , Michael Calvin McGee , Marie Hochmuth Nichols , Jean Paulhan , Chaim Perelman , Robert M. Pirsig , IA Richards , Stephen Toulmin , Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca and Richard M. Weaver .

Nevertheless, rhetoric is only taught as a separate subject at a German-speaking university - at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen . Walter Jens (1923–2013) held this chair from 1963 to 1988 ; it was set up for him. It was the first of its kind in Germany since 1829. His successor until 2009 was Gert Ueding (* 1942), one of his students; his successor was Dietmar Till . With Eberhard Karls University as the only university location and currently (as of June 2019) three chairs for rhetoric located there, rhetoric is considered a minor subject in German university policy . In addition, there is a "Chair for Public Law, Legal Rhetoric and Legal Philosophy" at the law faculty of the Fernuniversität Hagen .

Since 2008, the Paris-Lodron University in Salzburg has offered a cross-faculty offer to acquire a major rhetoric certificate. The speech science and speech training , however, dealt teaching and inquiring mostly with applied rhetorical communication. In modern linguistics , rhetorical questions are dealt with, for example, in the context of conversation analysis . In the meantime, the rhetorical tradition has also been rehabilitated in literary studies . As “usage rhetoric”, such as rhetoric for managers, it has a place on the bookshelves again.

Concept of rhetoric

Rhetoric has always been art teaching and art exercise at the same time, both a social practice and its theory. Up to the 17th century there was a differentiation on the one hand into the rhetorica or rhetorica docens as a designation for the theory (" speech art"), on the other hand into the oratoria , eloquentia or rhetorica utens for practice ("eloquence"). In the 20th century, the terminological distinction between general rhetoric (for theory) and applied rhetoric (for practice) was established in the German-speaking scientific field . However, rhetoric trainers and guidebook authors largely ignore this.

This "double dual character of rhetoric", which generally contributes to the confusion of terms, was summarized by Richard Albrecht as saying that under rhetoric "on the one hand and in general the intention and proposition of speech acts as a linguistic phenomenon, on the other hand and specifically the science of public speech (art) “Understood.

Under Applied rhetoric the discipline of practical speech is understood. In doing so, someone consciously or unconsciously makes use of the rules and techniques that are formulated in the historically developed system of general rhetoric . As concrete instructions for verbal and written communication, it includes the training and practice of effect-oriented speaking, behavior and writing. Knowledge of speech science and speech training flow into it today as well as knowledge of psychology and linguistics (linguistics). The Applied rhetoric refers primarily to the speech practice in business, in politics and in court; but the therapeutic conversation or the private controversy are also shaped by it. Since it relates not only to the monologue but also to the dialogue , it also deals with dialectics (in the Socratic sense) and is sometimes referred to as conversational rhetoric (see speech training ).

Non-European rhetoric

"If word, concept and thing 'rhetoric' are a European invention, then, strictly speaking, rhetoric in the sense of a specific art doctrine can only be used in the (or the) European cultures and those influenced by this (or these) cultures. But because it is If there is a more or less reflective oratory practice in all societies and cultures, it is legitimate to research it and to look for rhetorical theorems and rules outside of the European tradition of rhetoric in a methodically careful expansion and transfer of one's own conceptions. "

System of rhetoric

The five production stages of a speech

There are five steps to go from the idea to the presentation ( Latin officia oratoris or rhetorices partes ):

  1. inventio : finding the arguments ; the most important aid is the topic .
  2. dispositio : structure of the lecture .
  3. elocutio : the cladding of thoughts in words ("speech jewelry"; Latin ornatus ); the linguistic design (choice of words, rhetorical stylistic devices , communicative direction , sentence structure, pauses).
  4. memoria : memorize the speech for reciting by heart; Memorization by means of mnemonic (e.g. through visual presentations ).
  5. actio / pronuntiatio : public lecture in whichvocal,facialandgesturalmeans are used, i.e. bothverbally(volume,tempoandpauses,articulation,timbre,prosody) andnon-verbal(facial expressions; gestures; eye or eye contact,physiognomy,personal presence,body language) is communicated.


Aristotle distinguished three genres in his rhetoric:

  1. Court speech ( gr.γένος δικανικόν génos dikanikón , Latin genus iudiciale )
  2. Advisory speech; political decision speech (gr. γ νος συμβουλευτικόν génos symbouleutikón , Latin genus deliberativum )
  3. Praise and ceremonial speech ( gr.γένος ἐπιδεικτικόν génos epideiktikón , Latin genus demonstrativum or genus laudativum )

While the court speech judges the past (for example: Did the defendant murder Mr. XY?), The political decision speech deals with a future issue (for example: should war be waged or not?). In both cases, however, it is about an active decision that should be influenced by the speech. In the case of the eulogy, on the other hand, the audience remains largely uninvolved.

In the further history of rhetoric, this genre was understood normatively. It was only in late antiquity that it was expanded to include other rhetorical types of text such as letters, lectures (non-fiction) or sermons . Established facts are brought closer to the listener in the subject speech. The sermon is there to tell the audience from the Bible (especially the Gospel) and to explain this (s) and make them understandable.

Parts of speech

The individual mental sections of a speech are referred to as partes orationis 'parts of a speech' .

  1. Introduction ( exordium / prooemium )  - The speaker tries to gain the audience's goodwill and ensure their attention.
  2. Narration ( narratio ) - This is followed by a description of the issue at hand; in the court speech the case is told here.
  3. Structure ( propositio ) of the following argument.
  4. Proof ( argumentatio ) - The actually arguing part of the speech in which the speaker argues for the credibility of his cause ( confirmatio ). May also include the refutation of the opposing arguments ( confutatio ).
  5. End of speech ( peroratio / conclusio ) - Conclusion: Here z. B. once again appealed to the emotions of the audience.

How a speech works

Officia oratoris are the names of the modes of action of speech:

  • docere et probare 'teach and argue'
  • conciliare et delectare 'win and delight'
  • flectere et movere 'stir and move'

Style heights of a speech

The ancient theory of style distinguished v. a. three style levels for speeches, some of which were loosely linked to the modes of action. Which style level should be chosen and when was the subject of heated debates, of which Cicero's orator is testimony. Cicero advocates choosing the style level according to the subject of the speech:

  • genus humile or subtle : simple style similar to everyday language, works particularly with simple argumentation
  • genus medium or mixtum : medium or mixed style, typical for scientific lectures, for example
  • genus grande or sublime : elevated or sublime style, is close to poetic language, works strongly with the production of affect

Stylistic devices

The stylistic devices are divided into tropes and figures .

Tropics are modes of expression that differ from common language usage in that the usual, actual expression is replaced. Depending on the semantic relationship between the replacing and the replaced word, the tropes can be divided into types: metaphor , metonymy , synecdoche , emphasis , hyperbole , antonomasie , irony , litotes , periphrase .

Figures, on the other hand, concern either the arrangement of the words, figurae elocutionis , which are subdivided into figurae per adiectionem : Geminatio , anaphor , epipher , polyptoton (repetition of a word in different cases ), the enumeratio (list), the epithet (formulaic decorative addition), of the polysyndeton (repeated placement of connective words) and numerous others; figurae per detractionem like ellipse (omission), Zeugma (language) (assignment of a part of a member to several coordinated members), asyndeton (no connective words); figurae per ordinem : anastrophe (rhetoric) (unusual word sequence), hyperbaton (blocking), isocolon (coordinated juxtaposition of several kola ).

Or they concern whole sentences or sentence components, figurae sententiae , which are subdivided into: figures of the audience like the address, the obsecratio (imploring), the licentia (self-empowerment), the apostrophe (turning away from the audience to another interlocutor), the question, the Subjectio (fictional dialogue), the Dubitatio (doubt); Figures of factual affinity, including semantic figures such as the finitio (definition of terms), the conciliatio (use of an opposing argument against it), the correctio (improvement of the initially chosen expression), the antithet (the comparison), the commutatio (comparison of a thought and its Reversal as parallelism or chiasm ) and other, affective figures such as the exclamatio (exclamation), the evidentia (clarification through listing of details), the sermocinatio (characterization through quotations), the fictio personae ( personification , animation of objects) and others.

Monologue and dialogue

For the free lecture ( monologue ), the speaker uses various rhetorical figures , theses , premises and arguments . The argument here enhances the premise or thesis by means of a targeted conclusion with which the speaker tries to convince his counterpart. By arranging these elements in free speech (increase, sequence, dialectic, etc.), the speaker generates attention and tension in the audience.

In the dialogue of a conversation, the interaction becomes particularly important. Far more than during the lecture, which can also form certain interactions, the speaker now has to react to the verbal and non-verbal reactions of his counterpart. Here, the body language signals as a measure of the emotional state of a conversation partner play a particularly important role, which can sometimes be contradicting. If non-verbal and verbal statements are inconsistent, one speaks of incongruence . The arrangement of the rhetorical elements in the dialogue depends above all on the effect it achieves.


Rhetoric is also an auxiliary teaching of literature for the central task of hermeneutics . Here she asks about the strategies of presentation, reader guidance and the internal impact intent of texts. With the text-critical knowledge of rhetoric, written sources can be analyzed for their persuasive strategies.

Ethics and rhetoric

Ancient bust of Cicero

Thoughts about ethics have always been part of rhetoric. When is a speech (still) a legitimate way of influencing attitudes? Where does manipulation begin ? Does the end justify all means? - A conflict around these questions developed in antiquity between the Sophists ( e.g. Gorgias , Isocrates ) and the philosophers (e.g. Socrates , Plato ). Closely connected with this was the question of a “final” truth that could have clarified how and of what one can convince.

Many ancient authors developed ideas about which means of rhetoric were ethically legitimate and increased the acceptability of speech. Aristotle says: “The way the speaker appears, we gain trust, and that is the case when he appears as a righteous or friendly person or both.” Ethics in the sense of the character of the speaker counts for him - in addition to arousing passion and reasoning - to the three means of persuasion. Before him it was Isocrates (370 BC) who formulated the so-called golden rule as a recommendation for the speaker in his speech to Nicocles .

In ancient Rome, it is especially Cicero, Quintilian and Seneca who create an ideal image of the speaker as orator perfectus (Cicero) or vir bonus (Quintilian) and thus link eloquence, wisdom and a virtuous life.

In the Middle Ages, ethics shows itself as a form of applied rhetoric, among other things, in the fact that Thomas Aquinas formulated strict rules for a "scholastic dispute". These arguments forced listening as a form of appreciation. Before someone was allowed to present their own point of view in these practice speeches, they had to be able to reproduce the opposing speech correctly in their own words ( paraphrasing ). Otherwise he was disqualified.

The end of rhetoric is often associated in literature with Immanuel Kant , who took the position that the exploitation of fellow human beings often associated with rhetoric was “not worthy of any respect”.

If the number of reservations about rhetoric increased in Germany in the second half of the 20th century, this was also due to its one-sided instrumentalization by National Socialism . The time of National Socialism and its atrocities can be seen as a consequence of rhetoric without an ethical foundation. However, critics themselves recognize a rhetorical figure in this argument and refer to the linguistic work of Victor Klemperer , who explored the language of the Third Reich, its euphemisms and veils from the perspective of a Jew threatened by persecution. Swear words , defamation and fighting terms are also part of the language, but - contrary to the thesis that there is no bad language, only bad speakers - can hardly be regarded as neutral.

The fact that the verb “überreden” is perceived as disreputable in the German language and that “convince” is used instead as the goal of rhetoric - a differentiation that the Greeks and Romans did not yet know - may also be seen as evidence of the relevance of an ethically-oriented speech culture .

The use of rhetorical strategies per se is therefore not regarded as illegitimate and is also common in today's politics. It is used to form opinions as long as the public is aware of the intention to influence and the possibility of comparison with other views exists. The task of identifying and evaluating such strategies rests with the citizen.

Studies and courses in rhetoric

One could study rhetoric even in ancient times. One example is the rhetoric course at the old University of Trier . Even today, rhetoric can be studied as an independent course or as a sub-area in the subject of speech science and speech training . The subject of rhetoric is offered at the following German universities:

University Course of study graduation
University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart rhetoric master
Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen rhetoric Bachelor / Master
University of Saarland German studies with a focus on speech studies and speech training master
University of Koblenz-Landau Corporate Communication and Rhetoric / Business Communication and Rhetoric Master of Education
Friedrich Schiller University Jena Speech Science and Phonetics Bachelor
Philipps University of Marburg Speech Science with a specialization in Speech Science master
University of Regensburg Speech Communication and Rhetoric in Speech Science and Speech Education Master of Education
Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg Speech Science Bachelor / Master

Moreover, rhetoric can also as a section within the Bachelor program speech training and elocution at the University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart are studied.

Famous historical speeches


  • "A good speech has a good beginning and a good end - and both should be as close together as possible." ( Mark Twain )
  • "What you want to ignite in others must burn within you." ( Augustine von Hippo )
  • "Oratory is the most comprehensive art." ( Augustine of Hippo )
  • "Therefore it is necessary to use artistry without one noticing it, and to let the speech appear not as manufactured but as natural - namely, this makes it credible." ( Aristotle )
  • Rem tene, verba sequentur. ”( Cato the Elder , 234–149 BC , German:“ Control the matter, then the words follow ”)
  • "A good speech is like a bikini - short enough to be exciting, but covering all the essential points." ( John F. Kennedy )
  • "Choose topics for your speeches that are important to you." ( Dale Carnegie )

Source texts on the history of rhetoric

Classic texts

  • Plato: Gorgias .
  • Plato: Phaedrus .
  • Aristotle: rhetoric .
  • Rhetorica ad Herennium .
  • Cicero: De inventione  - About finding the substance .
  • Cicero: Brutus .
  • Cicero: Orator .
  • Cicero: De oratore  - About the speaker .
  • Quintilian: Institutio oratoria  - training of the speaker .
  • Tacitus: Dialogus de oratoribus  - conversation about the speakers .


  • Karl-Heinz Göttert: Introduction to rhetoric. 4th edition. Munich 2009.
  • Wolfram Groddeck: Talking about rhetoric. To a style of reading. Stroemfeld / Nexus, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-86109-107-0 .
  • Gregor Kalivoda among others: rhetoric. In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric . Volume 7, WBG, Darmstadt 2005, Col. 1423-1740. (Also as a separate print: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Rhetoric: Concept - History - Internationality . Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-484-68120-9 )
  • Josef Kopperschmidt: We are not born to be silent: An introduction to rhetoric . de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2018, ISBN 9783110548907
  • Rouven Soudry (Ed.): Rhetoric - an interdisciplinary introduction . Heidelberg 2006.

History of rhetoric

  • Øivind Andersen: In the garden of rhetoric. The art of speech in ancient times . Darmstadt 2001, ISBN 3-534-14486-4 .
  • Werner Eisenhut: Introduction to ancient rhetoric and its history. 5th edition. Darmstadt 1994, ISBN 3-534-04177-1 .
  • Johannes Fried (ed.): Dialectics and rhetoric in the early and high Middle Ages. Reception, tradition and social impact of ancient scholarship primarily in the 9th and 12th centuries (= writings of the Historisches Kolleg . Colloquia, vol. 27) Munich 1997, ISBN 978-3-486-56028-2 ( digitized version )
  • Erik Gunderson (Ed.): The Drama of Rhetoric at Rome. In: Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rhetoric. Cambridge University Press , Cambridge 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-67786-8 .
  • Handbook of Classical Studies . 2.3.
  • Gregor Kalivoda : Concept of science, history of rhetoric. In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric . Volume 10, WBG, Darmstadt 2011, Sp. 1451-1486.
  • Joachim Knape : General rhetoric. Stations in the history of theory . Stuttgart 2000.
  • Urs Meyer: Political Rhetoric . Paderborn 2001, ISBN 3-89785-111-3 .
  • Franz-Hubert Robling: speakers and rhetoric. Study on the conceptual and idea history of the speaker ideal . Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7873-1834-6 .
  • Franz-Hubert Robling: Rhetoric historiography. In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric. Volume 10, WBG, Darmstadt 2011, Sp. 1079-1099.
  • Klaus Semsch: Distance from rhetoric. Structures and functions of aesthetic distancing from the 'ars rhetorica' of the French encyclopedists. (= Studies on the 18th century. 25). Felix Meiner, Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-7873-1396-6 .
  • Craig R. Smith: Rhetoric & human consciousness: a history. 2nd Edition. Prospect Heights, 2003, ISBN 1-57766-174-5 .
  • Wilfried Stroh: The power of speech. A little history of rhetoric in ancient Greece and Rome . Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-550-08753-0 .
  • Brian Vickers, with the collaboration of Sabine Köllmann: Mächtige Wort - Ancient Rhetoric and European Literature . Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-8258-1191-4 .
  • Volkhard Wels: Trivial Arts. The humanistic reform of grammatical, dialectical and rhetorical training at the turn of the 16th century. Berlin 2000. Second edition. Available in open access: urn : nbn: de: kobv: 517-opus-51433

Theory of rhetoric

The authoritative representation of the system and the terminology of ancient rhetoric is:

Reflection on the practice of rhetoric

  • Hans Jürgen Apel, Lutz Koch (Ed.): Convincing speech and educational effect. On the importance of traditional rhetoric for educational theory and practice . Juventa Verlag, Weinheim / Munich 1997.
  • Albert Bremerich-Vos: Popular rhetorical advice . Tübingen 1991.
  • Andrea Hausberg: Analysis of political language using current examples. Rhetorical-argumentative strategies in speeches on the Iraq war . Saarbrücken 2007.
  • Josef Kopperschmidt (Ed.): Hitler the speaker . Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7705-3823-4 .
  • Jan CL König: About the power of speech. Strategies of political eloquence in literature and everyday life. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht unipress, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89971-862-1 .
  • Helmut Schanze : Two rhetorics? On Friedrich Kittler and Joachim Dyck's controversy about the tasks of German studies. In: Thomas Müller, Johannes G. Pankau, Gert Ueding (eds.): “Not just with words”. Festschrift for Joachim Dyck on his 60th birthday. Frommann-Holzboog, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1995, ISBN 3-7728-1703-3 , pp. 258-265.
  • Ludwig Reiners , style art. A textbook of German prose . improved new edition. Beck, Munich 1951, ISBN 3-406-34985-4 .
  • Peter Sprong: The liberated word . Nicolai Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-89479-644-0 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Rhetoric  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

supporting documents

  1. sometimes referred to as "eloquence"
  2. Rhetoric I 2, 1355b26 f.
  3. ^ Aristotle, Rhetoric I 1, 1354a1.
  4. Aristotle, Rhetorik II 1, 1356a2–4.
  5. Aristotle, Rhetoric I 1, 1355a7 f.
  6. Christof Rapp : Aristoteles. Rhetorik , Berlin 2002, Volume 2, pp. 223-240.
  7. ^ Aristotle, Rhetoric I 1.
  8. Christof Rapp: Aristoteles. Rhetoric. Berlin 2002, Volume II, pp. 543-583.
  9. Aristotle, Rhetorik I 2, 1356a5-11; II 1, 1378a6-16.
  10. Aristotle, Rhetorik III 2, 1404b1-4.
  11. ^ Edited by Udo Kindermann : The five speeches of Laurentius von Durham. In: Middle Latin Yearbook. Volume 8, 1971, pp. 108-141.
  12. Ursula Geitner: The language of adjustment. Studies of rhetorical and anthropological knowledge in the 17th and 18th centuries. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1992 (=  Communicatio, Vol. 1), ISBN 3-484-63001-9 .
  13. a b Immanuel Kant: Critique of the Judgment , Academy Edition, print-like representation in the Bonner Kant corpus, Volume V, pp. 165–487, there, p. 327; Footnote. Available online at: korpora.org .
  14. Small subjects: rhetoric on the Kleine Fächer portal. Retrieved June 12, 2019 .
  15. Chair for Public Law, Legal Rhetoric and Legal Philosophy at the Fernuniversität Hagen. Retrieved June 12, 2019 .
  16. ^ Richard Albrecht: "Destroyed Language - Destroyed Culture": Ernst Bloch's lecture in exile seventy years ago. History and current affairs. In: Bloch yearbook. Volume 13, 2009, pp. 223-240, p. 228.
  17. Th. Zinsmaier, entry "Rhetorik, extra-European", in: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric. Volume 8, WBG, Darmstadt 2005, column 16.
  18. Aristotle, rhetoric 1366a.
  19. ^ Institute for Speech Art and Communication Education at the University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart: Homepage .
  20. ^ Seminar for General Rhetoric at the University of Tübingen: [1] .
  21. Department of Speech Science and Speech Training at the Saarland University, Saarbrücken: Homepage ( Memento of the original from April 24, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.uni-saarland.de
  22. in cooperation with Saarland University , Faculty of Law and Economics: Homepage .
  23. Institute for German Linguistics at the University of Jena: Homepage ( Memento of the original from April 19, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.sprechwissenschaft.uni-jena.de
  24. Institute for German Linguistics at the University of Marburg: Homepage ( Memento of the original from August 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.uni-marburg.de
  25. ^ Department of Oral Communication and Speech Training at the University of Regensburg: Homepage .
  26. ^ Seminar for Speech Science and Phonetics at the University of Halle-Wittenberg: Homepage .
  27. Only fragmentarily and with a tendency to have been handed down in Appian (Ἐμφύλια - Bella civilia 2, 143-147; 3, 35) and Cassius Dio ( Roman history , book 44, chapters 36-49).