Consider the underlying purpose of your speech

Rhetorica ad HerenniumDear Gaius,

But first, in order to construct the most appropriate Introduction, you must consider the underlying purpose of your speech.

There are four possible purposes: honourable, discreditable, doubtful, and petty. An honourable purpose is when we either defend what seems to be a universal truth, or attack what seems to be universally accepted as reprehensible; for example, when we defend a heroic person, or denounce a heartless killer.

Conversely, a speech might be of the discreditable kind when something honourable is under attack or when something unacceptable is being defended. A doubtful (or ambiguous) purpose is when the purpose of the speech is partly honourable and partly discreditable. Another type of speech is the petty kind – when the matter being discussed is trivial or unimportant.


[Adaptation from Rhetorica ad Herennium, Book 1]
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