Gk. "strife" and "immobility"
constitutio, status

Stasis names a procedure within rhetorical invention by which one would ask certain questions in order to arrive at the point at issue in the debate, the "stasis." Four such basic kinds of conflict were categorized by the Greeks and Romans: conjectural, definitional, qualitative, and translative.
Questions to find Stasis Kind of Question Kind of Stasis
Did he do it? of Fact Conjectural Stasis
What did he do? of Definition Definitional Stasis
Was it just/expedient? of Quality Qualitative Stasis
Is this the right venue for this issue? of Jurisdiction Translative Stasis

Further argumentative strategies in the invention process would depend on which of these was determined upon, as would the number and arrangement of the parts of an oration to be followed.


Quintilian gives this example of determining a given case to have a conjectural stasis (to be a dispute over facts):

"You killed a man"
"Yes, I did. It is lawful to kill an adulterer with his paramour."
"They were not adulterers."
"They were."

Quintilian continues, showing how if there were agreement on this last point, that further questioning could reveal the case to have a qualitative stasis (to be a dispute over whether one was just or right in his/her actions--the quality of what was done):

[If it is conceded that they were in fact adulterers]
"But you had no right to kill them, for you had forfeited your civil rights" (7.1.7-8)

Related Figures

See Also

  Sources: Arist. ("amphisbetesis") 3.17.1; Ad Herennium 1.10.18-1.17.27; Cic. De Inv. 1.8-14, 2.15-115; Cic. Top. 24.93-95; Quintilian 3.6

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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