delivery actio / pronuntiatio hypokrisis
The five canons: invention  |  arrangement  |  style  |  memory  |  delivery

Delivery, the last of the five canons of rhetoric, concerns itself (as does style) with how something is said, rather than what is said (the province of Invention). The Greek word for delivery is "hypokrisis" or "acting," and rhetoric has borrowed from that art a studied attention to vocal training and to the use of gestures.

In antiquity the way a speech was delivered was considered a crucial determinant of its meaning or effect, especially since delivery made use of the powerful persuasive appeal of pathos.

Delivery (along with Memory) has often been omitted from rhetorical texts; however, it has retained a strong place in rhetorical pedagogy . The importance of delivery was emphasized in discussions of exercitatio (practice exercises) and has been manifested in the progymnasmata and practice speeches (declamations) of a rhetorical education.

Delivery originally referred to oral rhetoric at use in a public context, but can be viewed more broadly as that aspect of rhetoric that concerns the public presentation of discourse, oral or written. In either case Delivery obviously has much to do with how one establishes ethos and appeals through pathos, and in this sense is complementary to Invention, which is more strictly concerend with logos.

The oral nature of rhetorical training and performance in antiquity made a closer association between rhetoric and literature than exists today. Aristotle identifies commonalities between the recitation of poetry and the delivery of speeches. Both involved matters of style and emotion in vocalizing words.

Sample Rhetorical Analysis: DELIVERY
Winston Churchill could never have stirred the British public as he did were it not for the grave, serious, and controlled tone of voice that he employed in his radio speeches. His faith in the allied powers rang out in stentorian cadences that by their very vibrations instilled belief in the masses. His message was often cliche, but his delivery was never anything but spell-binding. Had he had a feeble voice, perhaps Germany would have fared better.
Related Figures
  • mimesis
    The imitation of another's gestures, pronunciation, or utterance.
  • mycterismus
    A mock given with an accompanying gesture, such as a scornful countenance.
  • tasis
    Sustaining the pronunciation of a word or phrase because of its pleasant sound
  • epenthesis
    The addition of a syllable or letter to the middle of a word. A kind of metaplasm that is sometimes employed in order to facilitate easier articulation.

See Also

Sources: Aristotle Rhet. 3.1.3-9; Cic. De Inv. 1.7; Cic. De Or. 3.11.40-3.12.46

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (