the four categories of change
quadripartita ratio

Addition, subtraction, transposition, and substitution comprise the four categories of change. These are fundamental rhetorical strategies for the manipulation and variation of discourse across a vast array of linguistic levels: word forms, sentences, paragraphs, entire texts or speeches, etc.

These have been used as categories to identify changes in word forms considered to be vices; as generative strategies for invention; as stylistic possibilities for both tropes and schemes; as pedagogical methods for developing rhetorical flexibility (see copia and rhetorical exercises); and as methods of imitation by which one could transform a model into something different and original.

These become another means of mapping the forest of rhetoric—a way of finding motifs, habits of mind, or simply similar approaches operating on multiple levels across the breadth of rhetoric.

Related Figures

See Also

Sources: Quint. 1.5.38 ("quadripartita ratio"); Barzizza, De imitatione, passim.


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