Pathopoeia

Pathopoeia ( path-o-poy’-a): A general term for speech that moves hearers emotionally, especially as the speaker attempts to elicit an emotional response by way of demonstrating his/her own feelings (exuscitatio). Melanchthon explains that this effect is achieved by making reference to any of a variety of pathetic circumstances: the time, one’s gender, age, location, etc.


He was born in 1946–at the end of WWII. He grew up in the 1950s—he volunteered to take the experimental polio vaccine, he watched Howdy Doody and Rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and played first base in Little League. He barely graduated from high school in 1966. He joined the Army and went to Vietnam. After that, he went to Woodstock. He bought a Triumph Thunderbolt and wandered around America on two wheels. He took a lot of acid, and learned how to do leatherwork, ending up in Monterey, CA, working in a small leather shop overlooking the Bay. One day, he decided to go to college on the GI Bill. He started out at a community college where they had open admissions. He got an Associate’s Degree and applied to the UC system, and was admitted to UC Santa Barbara. He graduated with a Masters and then went on to get a PhD from the University of Washington. He was a professor for many years. After 2 failed marriages, he met his current wife and they have a beautiful daughter. Their lives overflowed with love.

In every direction I look, I see tearful people, people remembering the goodness of this man and feeling the bonds of friendship that tied their lives, but no more. Now, there are memories—ephemeral traces and visions of what no longer exists, but affects us all as if he was seated there among you.

Goodbye my friend—my truest friend. Goodbye forever.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Perclusio

Perclusio (per-clu’-si-o): A threat against someone, or something.


He: If you don’t get off your fat ass and start cooking dinner by the time I count to ten, we’re going to play the abusive husband game again.

He: Where the hell did you get that huge knife? Put it down dumbo. Ow damn—you cut my friggin’ pinkie off. Call 911! I’m bleeding!

He: What do you mean, you hate me and you’re calling the police? If you call the police, I’ll tell them you cut off my pinkie. You’ll be arrested and I’ll be sitting here with stitches and a bandage watching Wheel of Fortune with our neighbor’s wife.

He: What? I NEVER beat you. Prove it. Oh, the video on your phone. So what? How’d you get it on Facebook? Hmmm. Well, I’m screwed. Thanks. I’m outta here. It’s been hell knowing you.

She: Go! I was a normal person when I met you. Now, I hide in the shadows, fearful of your constant wrath. Go! Get out! Go find another victim. Or better yet, die. I’m going to get help and restore my soul.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Periergia

Periergia (pe-ri-er’-gi-a): Overuse of words or figures of speech. As such, it may simply be considered synonymous with macrologia. However, as Puttenham’s term suggests, periergia may differ from simple superfluity in that the language appears over-labored.


The unchained melody climbed the staircase of my mind, skipping a step every two steps, like a frog in full-hop on the slanted plane. I felt like a rubber boot starring in a 21st century version of Cinderella; a boot that was “gripping” in its performance, as the eiderdown-like like dust blowing in the window made things slippery and threatened me with a fall. I laid on the dirty sticky floor, rather than fall on its splattered remnants of spilled food, alcoholic beverages, and fragments of plastic toys.

Suddenly, I woke up in the bathtub choking on soapy grey water. My tiny tugboat had sunk and the tub’s water was lukewarm like urine.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Period

Period: The periodic sentence, characterized by the suspension of the completion of sense until its end. This has been more possible and favored in Greek and Latin, languages already favoring the end position for the verb, but has been approximated in uninflected languages such as English. [This figure may also engender surprise or suspense–consequences of what Kenneth Burke views as ‘appeals’ of information.


We set our lives, inevitably, inconsolably, wickedly, painfully, faithfully by time. Hours and hours, into boredom’s dread. Minute by minute into the throes of anxiety fearful of not “finishing” in time. Seconds pass predictably in countdowns to New Years or birthdays, competitions of all kinds: swimming, racing horses, running, holding one’s breath.

And the seasons pass—timed by their climates’ characteristics: warm, hot, chilly, cold. And to each season measures must be taken to adapt; to fit: with the right clothing (and more). Buried in the seasons broadly understood, like seasoning, is the idea of what is appropriate or fitting: the right time for . . . . This is the Kairos—celebrated and elucidated in Ecclesiastes.

Kairos is the most important time. It bears the weight of the quality of your life’s episodes, for better and for worse. It gives your life meaning. It gives your life purpose. Always know what time it is. Whether Chronos or Kairos, time is time.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text inserted by Gorgias.

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Periphrasis

Periphrasis (per-if’-ra-sis): The substitution of a descriptive word or phrase for a proper name (a species of circumlocution); or, conversely, the use of a proper name as a shorthand to stand for qualities associated with it. (Circumlocutions are rhetorically useful as euphemisms, as a method of amplification, or to hint at something without stating it.)


Hey look, it’s The Liar—fooling all of his followers all of the time. His technique is to appear to believe himself, himself. He affects righteous indignation all day every day, floating his lies on it with a raised voice, rolling eyes and wild gestures. The only time he slows down is to compliment Newsmax, because they compliment him and repeat his lies.

Lincoln was the Great Emancipator. Trump is the Great Prevaricator. Both Republicans. Two different trajectories. One directed us to affect charity toward the defeated after a war, the other, directs us to affect malice toward the winners after an election. Trump’s rebuke is a raw display of his sense of entitlement’s delusional inability to deal with democracy—to accept the majority’s voice as a guarantor of the Republic’s future. Prince Donald sees it differently. He believes he has a right (maybe divine) to be President and that that right has been usurped by a “stolen” election. Yes, “stolen” from him by the will of the people.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Personification

Personification: Reference to abstractions or inanimate objects as though they had human qualities or abilities. The English term for prosopopeia (pro-so-po-pe’-i-a) or ethopoeia (e-tho-po’-ia): the description and portrayal of a character (natural propensities, manners and affections, etc.).


The onions said nothing, but they made me cry. Maybe they were telling me that silence isn’t golden after all. Or maybe I wasn’t crying. Maybe my eyes were just irritated by the onion as I chopped it into little pieces. My knife said “Go Johnny, mince that little sucker!” Then I thought: There’s violence in the kitchen—the ruthless cutting, peeling, poking, boiling, baking, sautéing, frying, chopping, tossing, pounding. Meat, fish, vegetables, birds, it doesn’t matter. Then I thought: OMG, smoothies! Whirring razor-sharp blades slashing solids into liquids.

There is violence up and down the vegetable food chain. Yanking a happy red tomato off its vine. Digging a snug russet potato up by its roots. Cutting a resting rhubarb leaf away from its mother plant. Ripping young corn cobs from their trembling stalks. Thrashing helpless grain.

But hey, we’ve got to eat.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Polyptoton

Polyptoton (po-lyp-to’-ton): Repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.


Who condemns the condemner? When the accused accuses, the accusations usually circle around lying or attributions of misinformation denying an alibi. Imagine a society where the accuser judges the accused. Disaster! But that’s exactly what often happens in interpersonal relationships, where the verdict may be “I’m leaving, you dog.” For better and for worse, this is how it goes too often. When there is a lot at stake, Divorce Court is an option.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Polysyndeton

Polysyndeton (pol-y-syn’-de-ton): Employing many conjunctions between clauses, often slowing the tempo or rhythm. (Asyndeton is the opposite of polysyndeton: an absence of conjunctions.)


He huffed and he puffed and he fell on the floor, and he looked up at the ceiling and he said “Wow” and he tried to get up and he couldn’t. So his wife put a blanket over him and he fell asleep and he dreamed he was a cannoli orbiting Earth.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Procatalepsis

Procatalepsis (pro-cat-a-lep’-sis): Refuting anticipated objections.


I want to go on a rampage. I’ll do a ‘light’ rampage—not much destruction, maybe a little fire and rock throwing. I know you’re thinking I’ll be arrested. Ha! I’ve got one of those Z masks: the joker is wild. I just take off the mask and nobody will know I was wearing it. Pretty smart, huh? Anyway, if anybody recognizes me, I can hide out at our Country Club—posing as a dishwasher. Oh, by the way, I’m rampaging for a good cause: Stop the Steal. Somebody stole my father’s Rolex right off his wrist! Now he has to go to the trouble of filing an insurance claim. They say he’s hiding it somewhere. That’s enough for a rampage right there! By the way, how do you like my new watch? Coincidentally, it’s a Rolex. Ha ha.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Prodiorthosis

Prodiorthosis (pro-di-or-tho’-sis): A statement intended to prepare one’s audience for something shocking or offensive. An extreme example of protherapeia.


Freedom by any means. Justice for all. Sometimes the pursuit of political reform cannot be achieved by the ballot. You heard the noise outside—the yelling, the explosions, the gunfire. Accordingly, reform has taken place. Blood has been spilled. The tyrant is no more. He is dead. His corpse is burning in the town square as I speak. 

Now, we shall return to our democratic roots. The tyrant’s political co-conspirators will be tried and most likely die by being hanged. 

This has been a horrific time in our country’s history. Our democracy is restored. Elections will be held in three months. Go out and spread the word. We are once again the home of freedom and justice for all.


  • Post your own prodiorthosis on the “Comments” page!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Proecthesis

Proecthesis (pro-ek’-the-sis): When, in conclusion, a justifying reason is provided.


Me: Ok. I lied to you about everything. My name isn’t John. My father isn’t George Bush. I never went to college. I hate Swiss cheese. This house isn’t mine. I’m not an attorney. But, I love you. When your dad was fatally wounded during our last liquor store holdup, I promised him I would do anything to make sure you have a good life, and we have had a good life despite my lies.

You: My father?! I’m leaving. I’m never coming back. You piece of shit.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Prolepsis

Prolepsis (pro-lep’-sis): (1) A synonym for procatalepsis [refuting anticipated objections]; (2) speaking of something future as though already done or existing. A figure of anticipation.


1. You tell me you’re faithful—that you’ll always love me. Ha! You make us dinner? Ha! So does the guy at Arby’s when we go there. Does he love me? You have sex with me? Ha! What do you call sex? Watching “Wheel of Fortune” together? What about the guy that lives in the basement? Bill’s not your brother—I checked—you don’t have a brother. Things are adding up: 1,2,3 get the hell away from me.

2. We’re going to Pasta Palace tonight! I’m going to have the Mountain of Spaghetti with those basketball-sized meatballs, at least two bottles of vino, and the special Holy Cannoli with the plastic lamb on it. I can smell it. I can taste it. Who’s paying for it?


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Protherapeia

Protherapeia (pro-ther-a-pei’-a): Preparing one’s audience for what one is about to say through conciliating words. If what is to come will be shocking, the figure is called prodiorthosis.


We take too much for granted. Life seems to go on over the smoothness of our daily routines—called “hum drum” because they drone on, beating out their beat monotonously. But then, in a couple of hours, this morning, the mall burned down: right to the ground. Now, it’s a smoking heap. Who could know? Who would ever believe there would be a riot that put the mall in flames? What started with a small peaceful group protesting the parking lot’s inability to accommodate all shoppers’ cars, turned into the most destructive criminal act in our city’s history. But don’t worry: the perpetrators (mostly from out of town) will be brought to justice and the mall will be rebuilt with a larger parking lot. All will be made well.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Protrope (pro-tro’-pe): A call to action, often by using threats or promises.


If you don’t pick up your clothes, I’m going to take away your phone. I thought you’d learned after the lawn mowing failure incident when I locked you in the garage for a week. But no. Pick up the damn clothes you little bastard! I’ll count to ten and then it’s hand over the phone. 1 . . .


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Proverb

Proverb: One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, gnome, maxim, paroemia, and sententia.


“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln said this on the eve of the Civil War. As the political polarization in the US continues to evolve, we have to ask where we are going. Although the circumstances of our divisions are different from the Civil War’s, the divisions exist, and they are monumental. If they persist and grow and fester, violence is inevitable. The 1/6 Insurrection is a case in point. I don’t see a remedy.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Prozeugma

Prozeugma (pro-zoog’-ma): A series of clauses in which the verb employed in the first is elided (and thus implied) in the others.


I went into town. To the farmer’s market. To the hardware store. To the library. To the police station, where I turned myself in.

As I was sitting in my cell, I could hear the police laughing and talking about me. They kept saying, “Who’s he trying to kid? There’s no way he did it.” Maybe it was true, but I had woken up with a Box Turtle in my bed and there was urine on my kitchen floor. Also, I couldn’t find my fountain pen or my new stainless steel taco holders. Put it all together and it spells crime. But, when the police finally asked me what I had done that was criminal, I couldn’t tell them.

“Did you kill the mayor?” one of them asked. “No” I answered. They all laughed and one of them to told me to go home, and I did.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Pysma

Pysma (pys’-ma): The asking of multiple questions successively (which would together require a complex reply). A rhetorical use of the question.


Me: How much do you love me? What are our prospects for the future? Would we have children? When would I meet your parents?

You: How did you find me? How did you get in here? What about the order of protection? What about the time you spent jail? Get back, this thing will knock you on your ass. I’m calling the police.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Ratiocination

Ratiocinatio (ra’-ti-o-cin-a’-ti-o): Reasoning (typically with oneself) by asking questions. Sometimes equivalent to anthypophora. More specifically, ratiocinatio can mean making statements, then asking the reason (ratio) for such an affirmation, then answering oneself. In this latter sense ratiocinatio is closely related to aetiologia. [As a questioning strategy, it is also related to erotima {the general term for a rhetorical question}.]


I am the best person for the job. Why? I am a liar. I am loyal. I have a violent streak. I am a racist. But most important, I have been a Conervative all my life.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Repotia

Repotia (re-po’-ti-a): 1. The repetition of a phrase with slight differences in style, diction, tone, etc. 2. A discourse celebrating a wedding feast.


1. Where’s my hammer? Where IS my hammer? C’mon—where is it? The hammer! Where! Look, I have another birdhouse to build. Why are you hiding my hammer? Stop laughing and give me my hammer.

2. I’ve been married 6 times—every one a total failure. Here, today, on your wedding day—on your first wedding day, I wish you more happiness than I ever had, or could have had, as a cheating shagmeister. But men are like that—they cheat, they lie, they break hearts, they yell, they push their wives around, they get divorced.

Whoops! I am so sorry, I got sidetracked there, talking about my loser self. Ray here will love Gloria forever and try his best to make her happy. Of course he’ll lie to Gloria now and again, but I’m pretty sure he won’t cheat. So, together, you should celebrate your love and the good times marriage affords. As a bonus, you’ve got a baby on the way very soon—you’ll get to start your marriage as a family: you’re on a fast track! Most people wait a year.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Restrictio

Restrictio (re-strik’-ti-o): Making an exception to a previously made statement. Restricting or limiting what has already been said.

I told you yesterday that we have to be frugal—save our money and live simply. Well, maybe that’s too money conscious, and anyway, I bought a parrot this morning. So, starting tomorrow, let’s start our frugality campaign. We can start by cancelling all your subscriptions and credit card, and I’ll keep thinking about what I can do, and don’t forget, I’ve got to feed this hungry parrot. Also, I may need to get hm a friend if he gets lonely.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Sarcasmus

Sarcasmus (sar’kaz’-mus): Use of mockery, verbal taunts, or bitter irony.


I have been living with you for two years—oh, I should say “dying” with you. Since you’ve dyed your hair like a-shades-of-shit rainbow, I’ve been looking around the house for your brain so I can stuff it back into your head and maybe make you normal again. I might as well be living with a piece of cheese: a reticent wedge of not so sharp cheddar.

I don’t know what happened to you to throw you so far out of character. Maybe it was falling down the stairs? Maybe it was being hit by a car? Maybe it was catching fire at your birthday party? Maybe it was being attacked by a shark and losing your foot? I don’t know, but I am compassionate. You have a month to find yourself.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Scesis Onomaton

Scesis Onomaton (ske’-sis-o-no’-ma-ton): 1. A sentence constructed only of nouns and adjectives (typically in a regular pattern). 2. A series of successive, synonymous expressions.


1. Life good, death bad, high good, low bad, happy good, sad bad. Vexed opposites. Vexed insofar as the qualities of the oppositions are seemingly steady. But it isn’t so. Today, on Memorial Day it is good to be sad: indifference to our military’s sacrifices would be criminal and dancing on their graves would be worse. We are left with gratitude: a sort of sadness (in this case) accompanied by a realization of the goods preserved by their deaths as well as the sorrow felt by families and friends that testifies to their love: the struggle with absence and the unavoidable question: What would they be doing now?

2. Where’s my water pipe? I can’t find my toker stoker. Definitely disappeared. Check the cat’s toy basket. It won’t be the first time that something lost has turned up there. Remember my sock and my car keys?


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Sententia

Sententia (sen-ten’-ti-a): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegem, gnome, maxim, paroemia, and proverb.


Somewhere, in strange places, in weird times, in the play of conflict and in the throes of rancor, somebody will say “Actions speak louder than words.” Here’s where the opportunity for conflict escalation opens up. I say, “You just SAID that. Actions don’t speak. Their meanings are interpreted with words. For example, pulling a gun’s trigger and killing somebody is an action. But we need to talk about it to determine whether is was an accident, self defense, or murder.” At this point my conversation partner often waves me off, saying “You are full of crap.”


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Simile

Simile (si’-mi-lee): An explicit comparison, often (but not necessarily) employing “like” or “as.”


My preferred character is projected by my speech. It’s like a currently popular catchphrase or a buzz word: I want to utilize incentivization to maximize our leverage in the upcoming negotiations. Ha ha! That’s me! Smart! With it! Learned!

I am constantly masking my rough origins and basic dishonesty with Latinized words. In a way, I am like a brick painted with elaborate images that will eventually be hurled through somebody’s window.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Skotison

Skotison (sko’-ti-son): Purposeful obscurity.


A: When the used car lot is closed, and the pigeon’s wings are done flapping, I will buy us first class train tickets and we will ride together to the rodeo. Do you understand?

B: More than you will ever know. I am behind the brick wall with my clipboard and carry-on luggage. When the conditions have been met, I will meet you at the station.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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