Rhetoric: Elocutio (Part 1)

OrnamentElocutio, or ornament,  is the canon of rhetoric concerned with the correct deployment and usage of words.

There are three traditional levels of style:

  • Plain (attenuata or subtile)
  • Middle (mediocris or robusta)
  • High (florida or gravis)

The four elements necessary to achieve good style are:

  • Correctness (purity)—words are current and adhere to grammatical rules
  • Clearness—words are used in their ordinary, everyday senses (meaning “shines through” like light through a window)
  • Appropriateness—the writing fits the given situation
  • Elocutio (Ornament)—extraordinary or unusual use of language; divided into three broad categories

Elocutio is broken down into three categories:

  1. Figures of speech—any artful patterning or arrangement of language; four fundamental categories of change govern the formation of all figures of speech: addition, omission, transposition, and permutation; there are over 184 different figures of speech; the aim is to use language inventively to accentuate the effect of what is being said; figures of speech are divided into two main categories: schemes (shape; change the ordinary of expected pattern of words) and tropes (turn; change the general meaning of words)
  2. Figures of thought—artful presentations of ideas, feelings, and concepts, thought that departs from ordinary patterns of argument
  3. Tropes—artful substitution of one term for another

 

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