The Forest of Rhetoric
silva rhetoricae

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How to Use This Site
Citations & Awards
Scholarly Disciplines Served

This online rhetoric, provided by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University, is a guide to the terms of classical and renaissance rhetoric. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest (the big picture) of rhetoric because of the trees (the hundreds of Greek and Latin terms naming figures of speech, etc.) within rhetoric.

This site is intended to help beginners, as well as experts, make sense of rhetoric, both on the small scale (definitions and examples of specific terms) and on the large scale (the purposes of rhetoric, the patterns into which it has fallen historically as it has been taught and practiced for 2000+ years).

A forest is the metaphor for this site. Like a forest, rhetoric provides tremendous resources for many purposes. However, one can easily become lost in a large, complex habitat (whether it be one of wood or of wit). The organization of this central page and the hyperlinks within individual pages should provide a map, a discernible trail, to lay hold of the utility and beauty of this language discipline.

Don't be scared of the intimidating detail suggested by the odd Greek and Latin terms. After all, you can enjoy the simple beauty of a birch tree without knowing it is Betula alba and make use of the shade of a weeping willow without knowing it is in fact Salix babylonica. The same is possible with rhetoric. The names aid categorization and are more or less conventional, but I encourage you to get past the sesquipedalian labels and observe the examples and the sample criticism (rhetoric in practice). It is beyond the definitions that the power of rhetoric is made apparent.

Your input (contributions of examples, explanations, links, and bibliography, or your clarifications and corrections) is heartily welcomed.


How to Use this Site

If you'd like an overview of the entire "forest" (the subject) of rhetoric, consult the "trees" (major categories) in the left frame.

If you'd like to look up specific terms of rhetoric, either scroll through the list of figures of speech (or "flowers" of rhetoric) on the right, or Search the Forest (above or here).

Cross-references throughout the website will help you see the relationship between, for example, a topic of invention, such as "comparison" and its related figures of speech, "metaphor," etc.

For students of rhetoric, literature, or communication, don't forget to look at the examples of Rhetorical Analysis (at the bottom of each of the "trees").


Awards for
Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric

The Infography

This site was awarded the Wise Owl Site of the Month for September, 1997
"in recognition of exemplary design and educational excellence."

Scout Selection
Featured in the Scout Report, January 2, 1998

Reviewed and selected September, 2000

Chosen January, 2001 for ISI's Current Web Contents, which features
evaluated websites for academic research.

Featured as of March, 2001, in Bigchalk's directory of exceptional educational websites. "Out of more than 110,000 sites reviewed, we found yours to be in the top 2% based on your rich content and its academic relevance."

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (

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