kairos tempus speciale /
encompassing terms:

The opportune occasion for speech. The term kairos has a rich and varied history, but generally refers to the way a given context for communication both calls for and constrains one's speech. Thus, sensitive to kairos, a speaker or writer takes into account the contingencies of a given place and time, and considers the opportunities within this specific context for words to be effective and appropriate to that moment. As such, this concept is tightly linked to considerations of audience (the most significant variable in a communicative context) and to decorum (the principle of apt speech).

Rhetorical Analysis in terms of KAIROS:

Rhetorical analysis of any sort begins with some orientation to the kairos. Whether or not a rhetorical critic employs the term kairos, he or she will examine the exigencies and constraints of place, time, culture, and audience that affect choices made by speakers and authors to influence that moment:

Germany of post-World War I was demoralized and disorganized. Adolph Hitler's rhetoric was successful not only because of his personal charisma and his mastery of delivery, but because he spoke at the right time: the German people wanted a way out of its economic morass and its cultural shame, and Hitler provided them both with his strong, nationalistic oratory. Had Germany been doing better economically, Hitler's words would have bounced harmlessly off the air.

Related Figures
See Also
  • branches of oratory
    According to Aristotle Greek oratory was categorized according to three specific kinds of occasions, each of which he associated with a given time (past, present, future).
  • Progymnasmata: description, encomium, vituperation.
    Directions for describing time or time periods were included with descriptions of these basic rhetorical exercises.
  Sources: Qunt. 5.10.42-3 ("tempus speciale"), 3.6.26; Victor. 1.21; Cicero De Inv. 1.40 ("occasio")

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (rhetoric.byu.edu)