con-tra'-ri-um L. “contrary, reciprocal”

Juxtaposing two opposing statements (=antithesis) in such a way as to prove the one from the other. More generally, a composition of opposites (=antitheton).
Like other Figures of Opposition, contrarium can at times seem to emphasize a lexical pattern and sometimes the semantic or argumentative content. The Ad Herennium author refers to contrarium as a figure of diction (perhaps because of the opposition and frequent parallelism of such statements when expressed concisely). However, as Quintilian notes , contrarium is more properly understood as a method of argumentation (= Topic of Invention: Contraries).
Are we afraid to fight those on the plains whom we have hurled down from the hills?
Related Figures
Related Topics of Invention
  • Contraries and Contradictions
See Also
  • Figures of Reasoning
  Sources: Ad Herennium 4.17.25-26

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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