The Three Modes of Persuasion: Socrates’ Apology
In speaking of effective rhetorical persuasion, we must appeal to our target audience in a way that will get them to accept or act upon the point of view we are trying to portray. Aristotle said that we persuade others by three means: (1) by the appeal to their reason (logos); (2) by the appeal to their emotions (pathos); and (3) by the appeal of our personality or character (ethos) (Corbett and Connors 32). When Socrates, an infamous rhetorician, gave his “apology” to his fellow Athenians after being accused of atheism or not believing in the gods and corrupting the youth with similar teachings, he employed all three modes of persuasion to prove his innocence. Despite the
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In paragraphs 13 through 31, Socrates questioned Meletus in reference to the charge of corrupting the youth. Socrates started by asking Meletus of the importance he places on improving the youth. Meletus confirmed that he places great importance on this matter and thus starts Socrates’ mission to disprove his claim and the charge. Meletus responded to Socrates deductive reasoning by confirming that “all” judges, as the interpreters of the laws, the senators, the members of the assembly and all other Athenians improve the youth with the exception of Socrates, as he is their only corrupter. Socrates asked, “Is it the same with horses? Does one man do them harm? Is not the exact opposite the truth?...Happy indeed would be the condition of youth if they had one corrupter only, and all the rest of the world were their benefactors.” He provoked the common knowledge and reasoning of his audience by comparing the improvement of the Athenian youth to that of training horses. Syllogism is again seen when Socrates asked Meletus, “Did ever a man believe in horsemanship and not in horses? Or in flute-playing and not in flute players... Can a man believe in the existence of things spiritual and divine, and not in spirits or demigods?” Socrates not only uses the method of the syllogism, but also uses common terms to further incite logos in his audience.
Although the majority of Socrates