Rhetoric: How persuasive are you?

The art of rhetoric started with the ancient Greek philosophers. Later, during the Roman republic, politicians and statesmen used rhetoric in speeches given to crowds in the public square. Modern politicians may prefer Twitter, but they still use persuasive language. Sam and Neil discuss the topic and teach you related vocabulary.

This week’s question

Roman politicians used many rhetorical tricks to persuade people including the ‘argumentum ad hominum’ which was an attack on their opponent’s moral character. Another was called the ‘argumentum ad baculum’ – but what did it mean?

a) an argument based on logic
b) an argument based on emotion
c) an argument based on the stick Listen to the programme to find out the answer.


short and memorable phrase used by politicians

unite to support a common goal

pull the wool over someone’s eyes
(informal) trick or deceive someone

idea you believe to be true and use as the basis for developing an argument

decision or plan of action after thinking about something carefully and considering all the relevant facts

arguing very strongly for or against a particular opinion or idea

Video thanks to BBC Learning English

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