The persuasive appeals: logos  |  pathos  |  ethos


Pathos names the appeal to emotion. Cicero encouraged the use of pathos at the conclusion of an oration, but emotional appeals are of course more widely viable. Aristotle's Rhetoric contains a great deal of discussion of affecting the emotions, categorizing the kinds of responses of different demographic groups. Thus, we see the close relations between assessment of pathos and of audience. Pathos is also the category by which we can understand the psychological aspects of rhetoric. Criticism of rhetoric tends to focus on the overemphasis of pathos, emotion, at the expense of logos, the message.

Sample Rhetorical Analysis: PATHOS
Antony, addressing the crowd after Caesar's murder in Shakespeare's play, manages to stir them up to anger against the conspirators by drawing upon their pity. He does this by calling their attention to each of Caesar's dagger wounds, accomplishing this pathetic appeal through vivid descriptions combined with allusions to the betrayal of friendship made by Brutus, who made "the most unkindest cut of all":

Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through;
See what a rent the envious Casca made;
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd,
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar followed it,
As rushing out of doors to be resolv'd
If Brutus so unkindly knock'd or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov'd him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
—Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 3.2.174-183

Related Figures Sources: Arist.1.2.5, 2.1.8, 2.2-11

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