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topos


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A standard form of rhetorical argumentation or a variably expressible literary commonplace. In classical rhetoric, inventio helps the orator to find elements of persuasion: topoi or locī are both the places where such elements (esp. plausible argumentative patterns) lurk, and also those patterns themselves; if universally applicable they can be called loci commūnēs (‘commonplaces’). They are the habitual tools of ordinary thought but can also be studied and technically applied. No two rhetors provide the same catalogue, but some of the more familiar topoi include arguments ad hominem or ā fortiōrī, from etymology, from antecedents or effects.

See communes loci; progymnasmata.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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