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The Unbounded Reach Of Rhetoric Essay

1085 words - 5 pages

The Unbounded Reach of Rhetoric
In the year of 1938, during the Nuremburg Conference, a man stands up to deliver the closing speech. This speech is not particularly as well known or as significant as many of his other speeches, but the words of this thin and paunchy man are strong and resolute. He states, “When the question is still put to us why National Socialism fights with such fanaticism against the Jewish element in Germany, why it pressed and still presses for its removal then the answer can only be: Because National Socialism desires to establish a true community of the people…. Because we are National Socialists, we can never suffer an alien race which has nothing to do with us to claim the leadership of our working people (Statements).” These are the words of Adolf Hitler. This speech, along with many other speeches given by Hitler has arguably caused one of the greatest genocides in the history of world. Whether it was Alexander the Great asking his fatigued men to continue the conquest to India or it was William Wilberforce addressing the British Parliament on necessary reformations on slavery, great men throughout history have used the power of rhetoric to gain immense support in their objectives. Rhetoric is capable of creating and changing history, and despite its relativity, rhetoric provides the pieces for an individual to come to a truth even if it is not the absolute truth. This is especially important because encompassed in the existence of the human condition is the inevitability of curiosity. Both Xenophon’s The Persian Expedition and Lysias’ orations exemplify the power of rhetoric.
It is important to realize that The Persian Expedition is written using a compilation of diaries during the time period around 400 B.C., so although many of the events in the novel are factual and did occur, the book as a whole is not supposed to be taken as concrete historical text. However, for the sake of the argument that rhetoric is capable of changing and creating history, the Persian Expedition will be used as such due to its realistic nature and factual characters. In Book One of the Persian Expedition, Clearchus, a general of Cyrus, handles a potential mutiny from the Greek mercenary soldiers when they become suspicious of Cyrus’s motives. “At first Clearchus tried to force his own soldiers to go forward, but they threw stones at him and at his baggage animals as soon as they attempted to make a start. Clearchus was very nearly stoned to death on this occasion (Warner 65).” Realizing that force was not going to work, he appeals to the method of rhetoric by making a speech and having two of his men deliver a pre-constructed speech. He coyly feigns loyalty to the soldiers while he simultaneously makes it seem that going against Cyrus would be impossible. Although still suspicious, the soldiers reluctantly decide to go with and fight for Cyrus. This scene depicts rhetoric overcoming brute force in the promotion of violence. Rhetoric is...

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