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invention inventio heuresis
The five canons invention  |  arrangement  |  style  |  memory  |  delivery

Invention concerns finding something to say (its name derives from the Latin invenire, "to find."). Certain common categories of thought became conventional to use in order to brainstorm for material. These common places (places = topoi in Greek) are called the "topics of invention." They include, for example, cause and effect, comparison, and various relationships.

Invention is tied to the rhetorical appeal of logos, being oriented to what an author would say rather than how this might be said. Invention describes the argumentative, persusive core of rhetoric. Aristotle, in fact, defines rhetoric primarily as invention, "discovering the best available means of persuasion." An important procedure that formed part of this finding process was stasis.

Example of rhetorical analysis in terms of INVENTION:

In describing the state of humanity, Blaise Pascal aphoristically states
We desire truth, and find within ourselves only uncertainty. We seek happiness, and find only misery and death. We cannot but desire truth and happiness, and are incapable of certainty or happiness.
In these nicely parallel claims, Pascal follows a similar pattern of development based on the identification of an antecedent and its inevitable consequence. [antecedent/consequence is a common topic of invention]. We must ask ourselves, Are these the necessary antecdents to the stated consequences? Does his concision betray a larger complexity? Aren't these consequences the causes themselves for pursuing what he refers to as antecedents?

arrangement  dispositio
The five canons invention  |  arrangement  |  style  |  memory  |  delivery

Arrangement concerns how one orders speech or writing (Its Latin name, dispositio means "placement"). In ancient rhetorics, arrangement referred solely to the order to be observed in an oration, but the term has broadened to include all considerations of the ordering of discourse, especially on a large scale.

Arrangement of a Classical Oration
1. Introduction  exordium
2. Statement of Facts narratio
3. Division partitio
4. Proof confirmatio
5. Refutation  refutatio
6. Conclusion peroratio

Cicero aligned certain rhetorical appeals with specific parts of the oration. In the exordium or introduction, it is necessary for one to establish his or her own authority. Therefore, one employs ethical appeals (see ethos). In the next four parts of the oration (statement of facts, division, proof, and refutation), one chiefly employs logical arguments (see logos). In the conclusion, one finishes up by employing emotional appeals (see pathos).

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style elocutio
The five canons invention  |  arrangement  |  style  |  memory  |  delivery

Style is a rich and complex concern of rhetoric that goes far beyond the connotation of "personal flair" or the use of figurative language. Unfortunately, the field of rhetoric has sometimes been reduced to nothing but just such a limited understanding of style in which substantive ideas were simply given some attractive dressing or ornamentation.

In classical and renaissance rhetoric, style was in indeed concerned with ornamentation, but in the original sense of that word (from "ornare": to equip, fit out, or supply). In other words, "ornamentation" meant to equip one's thoughts with appropriate words and expressions sufficient to accomplish one's intentions. Because style has so much to do with propriety (of the message to the thought and of the expression to the audience), it is closely tied to the rhetorical concerns of decorum and audience. Consequently, style encompasses both very minute and very large scale language choices, all of which affect the overall style. One could divide the concerns with style as found in classical and renaissance rhetorical manuals as follows:

  1. Word Choice
  2. Sentence Composition
  3. Levels of Style
  4. Qualities of Style (Descriptive terminology)
  5. Figures of Speech
Style is often aligned with pathos, since its figures of speech are often employed to persuade through emotional appeals (see Figures of speech and pathos). However, style has just as much to do with ethos, for one's style often establishes or mitigates one's authority and credibility (see Figures of speech and ethos). But it should not be assumed, either, that style simply adds on a pathetic or ethical appeal to the core, logical content. Style is very much part of the appeal through logos, especially considering the fact that schemes of repetition serve to produce coherence and clarity, obvious attributes of the appeal to reason. There are also specific figures of speech that are based upon logical structures such as the syllogism (See Figures of speech and logos).

Style is not an optional aspect of discourse, although those who take issue with rhetorical excesses maintain the fiction that there is a "plain" method of speech. Style is essential to rhetoric in that its guiding assumption is that the form or linguistic means in which something is communicated is as much part of the message as is the content (as MacLuhan has said, "the medium is the message").

Stylistic Analysis

The analysis of discourse in terms of style has a long history, one that stretches back long before the modern-day field of stylistics or contemporary linguistics came into being. Analysis in terms of style has taken two broad paths in the period from antiquity through the Renaissance. The first of these was stylistic analysis in a pedagogical setting, a process continuous with and often identical to grammatical parsing. The second of these, an approach closer to the general literary sense of style in use today, involved identifying general characteristics of the prose involved, for which there was a technical vocabulary. Certainly these two approaches were not all-encompassing with respect to stylistic analysis up to the Renaissance, but they give a fair sense of the breadth of attention to style.

Sample rhetorical analysis in terms of STYLE:

When Julius Caesar said "Veni, vidi, vici" ("I came; I saw; I conquered") he communicated a lot with a little. In fact, the efficiency of this statement about his military conquest seems to mirror the efficiency of his campaign itself. Nothing is wasted in accomplishing the intended task. Through his use of asyndeton (the lack of conjunctions between independent clauses) he demonstrates that he is direct and to the point. We can only assume that this forthright characteristic of speech reflects his leadership as a general. Caesar's short saying also constitutes a perfect tricolon (three parallel clauses of identical length--at least in the Latin!). One can almost visualize the orderliness of a phalanx of soldiers, marching rank and file to battle, in the smooth orderliness of these parallel statements. The rhythm of the words in Latin, also, drums out a marching cadence that seems inescapable: VEni; VIdi; VIci. Caesar certainly reflected and probably augmented his credibility, or "ethos," in making this statement, one that seems completely appropriate for the report of a successful military campaign.

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