Aristotle’s treatise on Rhetoric
                                                                trans. W. Rhys Roberts
                                                        Vol. 11, The Works of Aristotle
                                                       (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)

     
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                              Book I
                            Chapter 1

RHETORIC is the counterpart of Dialectic. Both alike are concerned with
such things as come, more or less, within the general ken of all men and
belong to no definite science. Accordingly all men make use, more or less,
of both; for to a certain extent all men attempt to discuss statements and
to maintain them, to defend themselves and to attack others. Ordinary people
do this either at random or through practice and from acquired habit. Both
ways being possible, the subject can plainly be handled systematically, for
it is possible to inquire the reason why some speakers succeed through
practice and others spontaneously; and every one will at once agree that
such an inquiry is the function of an art.

Now, the framers of the current treatises on rhetoric have constructed
but a small portion of that art. The modes of persuasion are the only true
constituents of the art: everything else is merely accessory. These writers,
however, say nothing about enthymemes, which are the substance of rhetorical
persuasion, but deal mainly with non-essentials. The arousing of prejudice,
pity, anger, and similar emotions has nothing to do with the essential facts,
but is merely a personal appeal to the man who is judging the case.
Consequently if the rules for trials which are now laid down some states-
especially in well-governed states-were applied everywhere, such people would
have nothing to say. All men, no doubt, think that the laws should prescribe
such rules, but some, as in the court of Areopagus, give practical effect to
their thoughts and forbid talk about non-essentials. This is sound law and
custom. It is not right to pervert the judge by moving him to anger or envy
or pity-one might as well warp a carpenter's rule before using it. Again, a
litigant has clearly nothing to do but to show that the alleged fact is so or
is not so, that it has or has not happened. As to whether a thing is important
or unimportant, just or unjust, the judge must surely refuse to take his
instructions from the litigants: he must decide for himself all such points as
the law-giver has not already defined for him.

Now, it is of great moment that well-drawn laws should themselves define all
the points they possibly can and leave as few as may be to the decision of
the judges; and this for several reasons. First, to find one man, or a few
men, who are sensible persons and capable of legislating and administering
justice is easier than to find a large number. Next, laws are made after
long consideration, whereas decisions in the courts are given at short
notice, which makes it hard for those who try the case to satisfy the
claims of justice and expediency. The weightiest reason of all is that
the decision of the lawgiver is not particular but prospective and
general, whereas members of the assembly and the jury find it their duty to
decide on definite cases brought before them. They will often have allowed