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Demonstration and refutation: ‘Investigational rhetoric’

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on Gellius use of the logical structures of the enthymeme, which actively engage the reader of his anecdotes in a rhetoric of humour. Gellius engages his reader in a kind of investigatory rhetoric, which considers whether certain actions or words are inconsistent with the rest of someones conduct. Ancient rhetorical theory distinguished two types of enthymeme: one type that proves something from agreed premisses (the demonstrative enthymeme), and one type that refutes the opponent (proves him wrong) by a reasoning from incompatibles or contraries (the refutative enthymeme). The chapter illustrates Gellius use of the enthymeme in his rhetoric of humour in more detail, and to pay attention to its close association with his use of antithesis, which is not only a stylistic embellishment, but also a rhetorical figure, and as such comparable to the enthymeme based on contraries.

Keywords: Aulus Gellius; demonstrative enthymeme; humour; investigatory rhetoric; refutative enthymeme



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