Outline of Aristotle's Rhetoric, Book One.
Table of Contents

Rhetoric as Technê [1.1.1-14 (1354a-1355b)]

Text of Book One Chapter One

Definition of Rhetoric as counterpart of dialectic [1.1.1-2]

The centrality of proofs and enthymemes [1.1.3-11]

The usefulness of rhetoric [1.1.12-13]

The true and the just are naturally superior to their opposites
General audiences lack the ability to follow scientific reasoning
Rhetoric proves opposites in order to counteract false arguments

Summary [1.1.14]

Concerning Proofs [1.2(1355b-1357b)]

Definition of Rhetoric as a Faculty [1.2.1]Edit

Rhetoric may then be defined as the faculty of discovering the possible means of persuasion in reference to any subject whatever. ===Artificial and inartificial proofs [1.2.27 (1355b-1356a]

Types of inartificial (inartistic) proofs (see also forensic inartistic proofs, 1.15)[1.2.2]

Types of artificial (artistic) proofs [1.2.3-6]


Faculties necessary to grasp artificial proofs [1.2.7]

Modes of proof: example and enthymeme [1.2.8-13 (1356b-1357a)]

Rhetorical vs. dialectical proofs [1.2.8-10, cf. 2.20-24]

enthymeme superior to example

General discussion of rhetorical proofs [1.2.11-13]

The function of Rhetoric, then, is to deal with things about which we deliberate, but for which we have no systematic rules; and in the presence of such hearers as are unable to take a general view of many stages, or to follow a lengthy chain of argument. But we only deliberate about things which seem to admit of issuing in two ways; as for those things which cannot in the past, present, or future be otherwise, no one deliberates about them, if he supposes that they are such; for nothing would be gained by it.

Materials (legetai) of enthymemes and examples [1.2.14-19(1357b)]

Probabilities [1.2.14-15]

For that which is probable is that which generally happens, not however unreservedly, as some define it, but that which is concerned with things that may be other than they are, being so related to that in regard to which it is probable as the universal and the particular.

Signs [1.2.17-18]

Necessary signs (tekmêria)
Universal-particular relations in construing signs

Materials of Examples [1.2.19 (1357b)]

It is neither the relation of part to whole, nor of whole to part, nor of one whole to another whole, but of part to part, of like to like, when both come under the same genus, but one is better known than the other.

Division of Enthymemes into General and Specific Topics [1.2.20-22]

I mean by dialectical and rhetorical syllogisms those which are concerned with what we call "topics", which may be applied alike to Law, Physics, Politics, and many other sciences that differ in kind, such as the topic of the more or less… Specific topics on the other hand are derived from propositions which are peculiar to each species or genus of things.

The Topics of Enthymemes [Logos]

The rest of Book One is concerned with the Topics of Logical proofs (proofs derived from the subject of the speech) divided into the three kinds.

The Kinds of Rhetoric [1.3.1-9 (1358b-1359a)]

Division of Rhetoric into three kinds corresponding to three audiences [1.3.1-6]

Kind Subject Matter Time End
Deliberative Persuasion and Dissuasion Future Expedient and Harmful
Forensic Accusation and Defense Past Just and Unjust
Epideictic Praise and Blame Present Honor and Disgrace

General Topics [1.4-8 (1359a-1366a)]

possible and impossible
past happening and future happening
the more and the less

Catalogue of Topics of Deliberative Rhetoric

General Discussion [1.4.1-7 (1359ab)]

"But it is clear that advice is limited to those subjects about which we take counsel; and such are all those which can naturally be referred to ourselves and the first cause of whose origination is in our own power"

Five Deliberative Subjects [1.4.8-13 (1359b-1360b)]

Ways and Means
War and Peace
Imports and Exports

Topics of Exhortation and Dissuasion: Happiness [1.5.1-17 (1360b-1362a)]

Definition of Happiness (Eudaimonia)[1.5.1-4]

"Let us then define happiness as well-being combined with virtue, or independence of life, or life that is most agreeable combined with security, or abundance of possessions and slaves, combined with power to protect and make use of them; for nearly all men admit that one or more of these things constitutes happiness."

External Goods [1.5.5-9 (1360b-1361a)]

noble birth (eugeneia)
good children
good reputation (eudoxia)
honor (timê)

Internal Goods 1.5.9-16 (1361b)]

happy old age

Good Fortune [1.5.17 (1362a)]

+++Virtue Reserved For Topic Of Praise [1.5.18]

Topics of the Expedient and the Inexpedient: Goods [1.6-7 (1362a-1365b)]

Definition of the Good [1.6.1-7 (1362a-b)]

"Let us assume good to be whatever is desirable for its own sake, or for the sake of which we choose something else; that which is the aim of all things, or of all things that possess sensation or reason; or would be, if they could acquire the latter."

Necessary (Generally Recognized) Goods [1.6.8-16]

virtues of the soul
virtues of the body
capacity for action
natural cleverness
good memory
readiness to learn
quick-wittedness and the like

Doubtful Goods [1.6.17-30 (1362b-1363b)]

the opposite of evil
that which is not in excess
that which is competed for
that which is the object of praise
that which is praised by one's enemies
that chosen by the wise or good
all things deliberately chosen or wished for

Greater and More Expedient Goods [1.7 (1363b-1365b)]

"It would seem then that it is better to receive than to confer a benefit; for one would choose the former even if it should pass unnoticed, whereas one would not choose to confer a benefit, if it were likely to remain unknown" (1.7.36 (1365b))

definition of greater and less
things that belong to a superior class
first in an irreversible sequence
greater in amount of similar things
things that produce a greater good
things produced by a greater cause
that which is more desirable in itself
an end is superior to the means
things less dependent on other things
cause or first principle superior to what is not
of two causes, what results from or causes the greater is greater
that which is scarcer and the reverse
that which is more difficult and the reverse
that the lack of which is greater
virtue and vice as ends are superior to their negations
things whose works are nobler or more disgraceful
the works of things virtues and vices are greater
things in which superiority is more desirable than in other things
superiority in better and nobler things
things the desire for which is nobler and better
subjects of nobler and more dignified sciences and vice versa
that which wise people would judge to be a greater good
things better people possess or would choose
things more agreeable, nobler, for which we have a greater desire to procure
things that last longer, or are safer
things follow relations between coordinates (e.g. nominal vs. corresponding adverbial comparisons)
things chosen by all or the majority, or by opponents or judges
things in which all participate, or in which few participate
things more praiseworthy or more highly honored
special occasions, ages, places, times, and powers
things that are natural greater than things acquired
the greatest part of a great thing
things available when in greater need, more useful to a particular person, more possible, nearer the end proposed, nearer the end of life
the real preferable to matters of public opinion
things people would rather possess in reality than in appearance
things that serve several ends
goods that combine to make the whole greater (such as pleasure and freedom from pain)
things that do not go unnoticed and therefore appear more real
that which is held most dear

The Most Important Topics of Persuasion and Dissuasion: Forms of Government [1.8 (1365b-1366a)]

Definition of the Forms of Government [1.8.1-2]

Enumeration of the Four Forms of Government [1.8.3-4]

Monarchy (Kingdom or Tyranny)

Ends of Each Form of Government [1.8.5]

Aristocracy>Education and Law


Speakers should become familiar with the characters (ethei) corresponding to each of these forms of government [1.8.6-7]

Summary of the Topics of Deliberative Rhetoric

Topics of Epideictic Rhetoric [1.9.1-41]

Introduction [1.9.1-2]

Epideictic concerns topics of:

virtue and vice
the noble and the disgraceful
praise and blame

Virtue and vice in general [1.9.3-13, 1366bv]

Related qualities [1.9.14-27, 1366b-1367a]

whatever produces virtue or comes from virtue
works signs and acts of courage, just things and just actions
things of which the reward is honor rather than money
desirable things not done for one's own sake, absolute goods done for the country, natural goods, goods not done for the individual
things possible to possess after death, done for others, acts of kindness
things for which we strive without fear
things done by worthier people
things which cause others' enjoyment
retaliation, victory, things worthy of remembrance, accompanied by honor, unusual
things possessed by a single individual, that bring no profit, customs pertaining to individual groups

qualities that resemble the real qualities [1.9.28-32]

encomium [1.9.33-37, 1368a]

amplification [1.9.38-39]

Digression: Topics of Argument Suited to Each Kind [I.9.40]

epideictic = amplification
deliberative = example
forensic = enthymeme

Summation of Epideictic Topics [I.9.41]

Topics of Accusation and Defense (Forensic)

Introduction [1.10-1-4, 1368b-1375a]

Partition [1.10.1-2, 1368b]

nature and number of motives of injustice
state of mind of those who act unjustly
character of those exposed to injustice

Definition [1.10.3-4]

"Let injustice, then, be defined as voluntarily causing injury contrary to the law." *particular-general law


Topics of Accusation and Defense (Forensic): The Particulars [1.10.5-1.12.35]

Nature of Motives [1.10.5-1.11.29]

Seven causes of human action [1.10.5-18, 1369a]


The pleasant [1.10.18-11.29, 1370a-1372a]

"all that we do voluntarily is or seems good or pleasant"

definition [1.11.1-5, 1370a]

"Let it be assumed by us that pleasure is a certain movement of the soul, a sudden and perceptible settling down into its natural state, and pain the opposite."

rational and irrational desires [1.11.5]

hope and memory [1.11.5-12, 1370b]

"Therefore all pleasant things must either be present in sensation, or past in recollection, or future in hope"

more topics of the pleasant [1.11.13-28, 1371a]

gaming, competition, and disputation
honor and good repute
admiration and flattery
familiarity and change
learning and admiring
bestowing and receiving benefits
imitations we learn from
sudden changes and narrow escapes
like things are pleasant to each other
pleasure in one's own likeness to oneself
flattery, honor, children
one's own work
being regarded as wise
finding fault with neighbors
devoting time to things in which one excels
amusements and ridiculous things

the painful the contrary of all these [1.11.29]

States of Mind of those who commit injustice [1.12.1-17]

they think it can be done by them
their action will be undiscovered or unpunished
the punishment will be less than the profit
they will escape due to eloquence, business sense, trial experience, influence, wealth
or their friends have the above qualities
if they are friends of those wronged or of the judges
if character out of keeping with charges
if acts are done openly
if acts are of such a nature no one would be likely to attempt them
if they have either no enemy or many enemies
they have ways to conceal stolen property or means of disposal
they can get the trial put off or corrupt the judges
can avoid the fine or have nothing to lose
profit is large and immediate while punishment is remote
there is no punishment equal to the advantages
acts are real gains and punishment merely disgrace
unjust acts are creditable (i.e. vengeance) and punishment is exile or financial loss
they have often escaped punishment
or have often been unsuccessful
hope for pleasure or profit immediately (intemperate)
or the pain is immediate but the pleasure lasting (temperate)
acted by chance rather than intent
hope to obtain indulgence
need whether necessary or superfluous
highly esteemed will not be suspected
or will be no more suspected than they are already

++Character of those who suffer injustice [1.12.17-31]

those who possess what others lack
those far off (reprisal slow) or near (speedy gain)
those not cautious or confiding
shy people (not likely to fight back over money)
those who have been wronged and have not prosecuted
never or often suffered wrong (both ways, off their guard)
those who have been slandered or are easy to slander
those against whom the offender can concoct a slight
enemies and friends (friends easy, enemies pleasant)
the friendless
the unskilled in speech and action
those who can't await the verdict (strangers, workmen)
those who are wrongdoers themselves
those who have injured us
those we wrong to please our friends, masters, family
those against whom we have a complaint
those likely to be attacked by others anyway
those for whom we will be able to repair the wrong easily

Kinds of wrong likely to be committed [1.12.32-35]

those many are in the habit of committing
we steal objects easy to conceal, dispose of or alter
wrongs the victims are ashamed to disclose (rape)
wrongs in which an appeal to the law would appear litigious

Just and Unjust Actions [1.13-14]

Classification [1.13.1-11]

Particular (cultural) laws (written and unwritten)
General (natural) laws
Laws pertaining to persons (individual and communal)

Unwritten laws [1.13.12-19]

injustice arising from excess of virtue or vice
whatever is omitted from written law
Definition of equity
Justice that goes beyond the written law. Omissions are inevitable owing to infinite number of cases.

Greater and the less applied to law (general) [1.14]

Acts are greater in proportion to root injustice
The greater potentially inheres in the less; for he who has stolen three consecrated half-obols will commit any wrong whatever
Greater by extent of the injury done
Greater when there is no adequate punishment
When there is no remedy
When victim cannot obtain satisfaction
If victim has inflicted injury upon himself as result
When unprecedented, first of a kind, seldom paralleled
When frequently committed
When because of it new penalties are required
The more brutal
When for a long time premeditated
When the recital of it inspires terror rather than pity
Heaping crime on crime
When committed in the courtroom itself
When accompanied by great disgrace
When committed against a benefactor
When it offends against unwritten law
When it violates written law

Forensic Topoi for Inartistic Proofs [1.15]

Laws [1.15.1-12]Edit

If the written law is counter to the case
Equity oath of the dicast
Equity is constant and never changes, even as the general law, which is based on nature, whereas the written laws often vary
Contradictions between laws
Equivocal meaning
Obsolete laws
If the written law favors the case
Oath does not justify decision contrary to written law
No difference between not using the law and the law not being enacted
No advantage in being wiser than the physician

Witnesses [1.15.13-19]

Poets and traditionists
Interpreters of oracles
Well-known decisions
Those who share the risk of the trial
No witnesses: Rely on probabilities
Opponent has no witnesses: Rely on evidence

Contracts [1.15.20-25]

If on our side, prove worthy of credit
laws give force to legal contracts
law is a kind of contract
most transactions are contractual
If contract favors opponent, discredit it
we refuse to obey ill-made laws, likewise contracts
judge dispenses justice, not contract
contract differs from law in that it can be entered into fraudulently
Contrary to written law, general law, other contracts

opposed to the interest of the judges

Torture [1.15.26]

If in our favor, assert it is the only true kind of evidence
If against us, tell the truth about all kinds of torture

Oaths in four kinds [1.15.27-]

Oaths can be accepted or tendered and the opposite of these

Do not Tender

Men readily perjure themselves
He will not repay the money
If he does not take it the dicasts will condemn him

Do not accept

Oath only taken with view to money
A scoundrel would have taken it at once
If you do not accept you will lose, thus your refusal is due to moral excellence


Your confidence is in yourself not your opponent
Monstrous to refuse while the judges must take it


Act of piety to leave matter to gods
you allow opponent to make the decision himself
ridiculous he should be unwilling to take oath when he demands dicasts take one

Combinations of the above

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