This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
” Or, “ If men are in the habit of gaining credit for false statements, you must also admit the contrary, that men often disbelieve what is true.4
 Another topic is derived from similar inflections, for in like manner the derivatives must either be predicable of the subject or not; for instance, that the just is not entirely good, for in that case good would be predicable of anything that happens justly; but to be justly put to death is not desirable.  Another topic is derived from relative terms. For if to have done rightly or justly may be predicated of one, then to have suffered similarly may be predicated of the other; there is the same relation between having ordered and having carried out, as Diomedon the tax-gatherer said about the taxes, “If selling is not disgraceful for you, neither is buying disgraceful for us.”5 And if rightly or justly can be predicated of the sufferer, it can equally be predicated of the one who inflicts suffering; if of the latter, then also of the former. However, in this there is room for a fallacy. For if a man has suffered justly, he has suffered justly, but perhaps not at your hands. Wherefore one must consider separately whether the sufferer deserves to suffer,
and whether he who inflicts suffering is the right person to do so, and then make use of the argument either way; for sometimes there is a difference in such a case, and nothing prevents [its being argued], as in the Alcmaeon of Theodectes6: “ And did no one of mortals loathe thy mother?
” Alcmaeon replied: “We must make a division before we examine the matter.” And when Alphesiboea asked “How?”, he rejoined, “ Their decision was that she should die, but that it was not for me to kill her.
” Another example may be found in the trial of Demosthenes and those who slew Nicanor.7 For since it was decided that they had justly slain him, it was thought that he had been justly put to death. Again, in the case of the man who was murdered at Thebes, when the defendants demanded that the judges should decide whether the murdered man deserved to die, since a man who deserved it could be put to death without injustice.  Another topic is derived from the more and less. For instance, if not even the gods know everything, hardly can men; for this amounts to saying that if a predicate, which is more probably affirmable of one thing, does not belong to it, it is clear that it does not belong to another of which it is less probably affirmable. And to say that a man who beats his father also beats his neighbors, is an instance of the rule that, if the less exists, the more also exists.8 Either of these arguments may be used, according as it is necessary to prove either that a predicate is affirmable or that it is not.  Further, if
there is no question of greater or less; whence it was said, “ Thy father deserves to be pitied for having lost his children; is not Oeneus then equally to be pitied for having lost an illustrious offspring?9
” Other instances are: if Theseus did no wrong,10 neither did Alexander Paris; if the sons of Tyndareus did no wrong, neither did Alexander; and if Hector did no wrong in slaying Patroclus, neither did Alexander in slaying Achilles; if no other professional men are contemptible, then neither are philosophers; if generals are not despised because they are frequently defeated,11 neither are the sophists; or, if it behoves a private citizen to take care of your reputation, it is your duty to take care of that of Greece.  Another topic is derived from the consideration of time. Thus Iphicrates, in his speech against Harmodius, says: “If, before accomplishing anything, I had demanded the statue from you in the event of my success, you would have granted it; will you then refuse it, now that I have succeeded? Do not therefore make a promise when you expect something, and break it when you have received it.”12 Again, to persuade the Thebans to allow Philip to pass through their territory into Attica,
they were told that “if he had made this request before helping them against the Phocians, they would have promised; it would be absurd, therefore, if they refused to let him through now, because he had thrown away his opportunity and had trusted them.”  Another topic consists in turning upon the opponent what has been said against ourselves; and this is an excellent method.13 For instance, in the Teucer14 . . . and Iphicrates employed it against Aristophon, when he asked him whether he would have betrayed the fleet for a bribe; when Aristophon said no, “Then,” retorted Iphicrates, “if you, Aristophon, would not have betrayed it, would I, Iphicrates, have done so?” But the opponent must be a man who seems the more likely to have committed a crime; otherwise, it would appear ridiculous, if anyone were to make use of such an argument in reference to such an opponent, for instance, as Aristides15; it should only be used to discredit the accuser. For in general the accuser aspires to be better than the defendant; accordingly, it must always be shown that this is not the case. And generally, it is ridiculous for a man to reproach others for what he does or would do himself, or to encourage others to do what he does not or would not do himself.  Another topic is derived from definition. For instance, that the daimonion16 is nothing else than a god or the work of a god; but he who thinks it to be the work of a god necessarily thinks that gods exist. When Iphicrates desired to prove that the best man is the noblest, he declared that there was nothing noble attaching to Harmodius and Aristogiton, before they did something
noble; and, “I myself am more akin to them than you; at any rate, my deeds are more akin to theirs than yours.” And as it is said in the Alexander17 that it would be generally admitted that men of disorderly passions are not satisfied with the enjoyment of one woman's person alone. Also, the reason why Socrates refused to visit Archelaus, declaring that it was disgraceful not to be in a position to return a favor as well as an injury.18 In all these cases, it is by definition and the knowledge of what the thing is in itself that conclusions are drawn upon the subject in question.  Another topic is derived from the different significations of a word, as explained in the Topics, where the correct use of these terms has been discussed.19  Another, from division. For example, “There are always three motives for wrongdoing; two are excluded from consideration as impossible; as for the third, not even the accusers assert it.”  Another, from induction. For instance, from the case of the woman of Peparethus, it is argued that in matters of parentage women always discern the truth;
similarly, at Athens, when Mantias the orator was litigating with his son, the mother declared the truth;20 and again, at Thebes, when Ismenias and Stilbon were disputing about a child, Dodonis21 declared that Ismenias was its father, Thettaliscus being accordingly recognized as the son of Ismenias. There is another instance in the “law” of Theodectes: “If we do not entrust our own horses to those who have neglected the horses of others, or our ships to those who have upset the ships of others; then, if this is so in all cases, we must not entrust our own safety to those who have failed to preserve the safety of others.” Similarly, in order to prove that men of talent are everywhere honored, Alcidamas said: “The Parians honored Archilochus, in spite of his evil-speaking; the Chians Homer, although he had rendered no public services;22 the Mytilenaeans Sappho, although she was a woman; the Lacedaemonians, by no means a people fond of learning, elected Chilon one of their senators; the Italiotes honored Pythagoras, and the Lampsacenes buried Anaxagoras, although he was a foreigner, and still hold him in honor. . .23 The Athenians were happy as long as they lived under the laws of Solon, and the Lacedaemonians under those of Lycurgus; and at Thebes, as soon as those who had the conduct of affairs became philosophers,24
the city flourished.”  Another topic is that from a previous judgement in regard to the same or a similar or contrary matter, if possible when the judgement was unanimous or the same at all times; if not, when it was at least that of the majority, or of the wise, either all or most, or of the good; or of the judges themselves or of those whose judgement they accept, or of those whose judgement it is not possible to contradict, for instance, those in authority, or of those whose judgement it is unseemly to contradict, for instance, the gods, a father, or instructors; as Autocles25 said in his attack on Mixidemides, “If the awful goddesses were content to stand their trial before the Areopagus, should not Mixidemides?” Or Sappho, “Death is an evil; the gods have so decided, for otherwise they would die.” Or as Aristippus, when in his opinion Plato had expressed himself too presumptuously, said, “Our friend at any rate never spoke like that,” referring to Socrates. Hegesippus,26 after having first consulted the oracle at Olympia, asked the god at Delphi whether his opinion was the same as his father's,
meaning that it would be disgraceful to contradict him. Helen was a virtuous woman, wrote Isocrates, because Theseus so judged; the same applies to Alexander Paris, whom the goddesses chose before others. Evagoras was virtuous, as Isocrates says, for at any rate Conon.27 in his misfortune, passing over everyone else, sought his assistance.  Another topic is that from enumerating the parts, as in the Topics: What kind of movement is the soul? for it must be this or that.28 There is an instance of this in the Socrates of Theodectes: “What holy place has he profaned? Which of the gods recognized by the city has he neglected to honor?”  Again, since in most human affairs the same thing is accompanied by some bad or good result, another topic consists in employing the consequence to exhort or dissuade, accuse or defend, praise or blame. For instance, education is attended by the evil of being envied, and by the good of being wise; therefore we should not be educated, for we should avoid being envied; nay rather, we should be educated, for we should be wise. This topic is identical with the “Art” of Callippus, when you have also included the topic of the possible and the others which have been mentioned.  Another topic may be employed when it is necessary to exhort or dissuade
in regard to two opposites, and one has to employ the method previously stated in the case of both. But there is this difference, that in the former case things of any kind whatever are opposed, in the latter opposites. For instance, a priestess refused to allow her son to speak in public; “For if,” said she, “you say what is just, men will hate you; if you say what is unjust, the gods will.” On the other hand, “you should speak in public; for if you say what is just, the gods will love you, if you say what is unjust, men will.” This is the same as the proverb, “To buy the swamp with the salt”29; and retorting a dilemma on its proposer takes place when, two things being opposite, good and evil follow on each, the good and evil being opposite like the things themselves.  Again, since men do not praise the same things in public and in secret, but in public chiefly praise what is just and beautiful, and in secret rather wish for what is expedient, another topic consists in endeavoring to infer its opposite from one or other of these statements.30 This topic is the most weighty of those that deal with paradox.  Another topic is derived from analogy in things. For instance, Iphicrates, when they tried to force his son to perform public services because he was tall, although under the legal age, said: “If you consider tall boys men, you must vote that short men are boys.”
Similarly, Theodectes in his “law,”31 says: “Since you bestow the rights of citizenship upon mercenaries such as Strabax and Charidemus on account of their merits, will you not banish those of them who have wrought such irreparable misfortunes?”  Another topic consists in concluding the identity of antecedents from the identity of results.32 Thus Xenophanes said: “There is as much impiety in asserting that the gods are born as in saying that they die; for either way the result is that at some time or other they did not exist.” And, generally speaking, one may always regard as identical the results produced by one or other of any two things: “You are about to decide, not about Isocrates alone, but about education generally, whether it is right to study philosophy.”33 And, “to give earth and water is slavery,” and “to be included in the common peace34 implies obeying orders.” Of two alternatives, you should take that which is useful.  Another topic is derived from the fact that the same men do not always choose the same thing before and after, but the contrary. The following enthymeme is an example: “If, when in exile, we fought to return to our country [it would be monstrous] if, now that we have returned, we were to return to exile to avoid fighting”!35 This amounts to saying that at one time they preferred to hold their ground at the price of fighting; at another, not to fight at the price of not remaining.36
 Another topic consists in maintaining that the cause of something which is or has been is something which would generally, or possibly might, be the cause of it; for example, if one were to make a present of something to another, in order to cause him pain by depriving him of it. Whence it has been said: “ It is not from benevolence that the deity bestows great blessings upon many, but in order that they may suffer more striking calamities.37
” And these verses from the Meleager of Antiphon: “ Not in order to slay the monster, but that they may be witnesses to Greece of the valor of Meleager.38
” And the following remark from the Ajax of Theodectes, that Diomedes chose Odysseus before all others,39 not to do him honor, but that his companion might be his inferior; for this may have been the reason.  Another topic common to forensic and deliberative rhetoric consists in examining what is hortatory and dissuasive, and the reasons which make men act or not. Now, these are the reasons which, if they exist, determine us to act, if not, not; for instance, if a thing is possible, easy, or useful to ourselves or our friends, or injurious and prejudicial to our enemies, or if the penalty is less than the profit. From these grounds we exhort, and dissuade from their contraries.
It is on the same grounds that we accuse and defend; for what dissuades serves for defence,40 what persuades, for accusation. This topic comprises the whole “Art” of Pamphilus and Callippus.  Another topic is derived from things which are thought to happen but are incredible, because it would never have been thought so, if they had not happened or almost happened. And further, these things are even more likely to be true; for we only believe in that which is, or that which is probable: if then a thing is incredible and not probable, it will be true; for it is not because it is probable and credible that we think it true.41 Thus, Androcles42 of Pitthus, speaking against the law, being shouted at when he said “the laws need a law to correct them,” went on, “and fishes need salt, although it is neither probable nor credible that they should, being brought up in brine; similarly, pressed olives need oil, although it is incredible that what produces oil should itself need oil.”  Another topic, appropriate to refutation, consists in examining contradictories, whether in dates, actions, or words, first, separately in the case of the adversary, for instance, “he says that he loves you, and yet he conspired with the Thirty;” next, separately in your own case, “he says that I am litigious, but he cannot
prove that I have ever brought an action against anyone”; lastly, separately in the case of your adversary and yourself together: “he has never yet lent anything, but I have ransomed many of you.”  Another topic, when men or things have been attacked by slander, in reality or in appearance,43 consists in stating the reason for the false opinion; for there must be a reason for the supposition of guilt. For example, a woman embraced her son in a manner that suggested she had illicit relations with him, but when the reason was explained, the slander was quashed. Again, in the Ajax of Theodectes, Odysseus explains to Ajax why, although really more courageous than Ajax, he is not considered to be so.  Another topic is derived from the cause. If the cause exists, the effect exists; if the cause does not exist, the effect does not exist; for the effect exists with the cause, and without cause there is nothing. For example, Leodamas, when defending himself against the accusation of Thrasybulus that his name had been posted in the Acropolis44 but that he had erased it in the time of the Thirty, declared that it was impossible, for the Thirty would have had more confidence in him if his hatred against the people had been graven on the stone.  Another topic consists in examining whether there was or is another better course than that which is advised, or is being, or has been, carried out. For it is evident that,
if this has not been done,45 a person has not committed a certain action; because no one, purposely or knowingly, chooses what is bad. However, this argument may be false; for often it is not until later that it becomes clear what was the better course, which previously was uncertain.  Another topic, when something contrary to what has already been done is on the point of being done, consists in examining them together. For instance, when the people of Elea asked Xenophanes if they ought to sacrifice and sing dirges to Leucothea,46 or not, he advised them that, if they believed her to be a goddess they ought not to sing dirges, but if they believed her to be a mortal, they ought not to sacrifice to her.  Another topic consists in making use of errors committed, for purposes of accusation or defence. For instance, in the Medea of Carcinus,47 some accuse Medea of having killed her children,—at any rate, they had disappeared; for she had made the mistake of sending them out of the way. Medea herself pleads that she would have slain, not her children, but her husband Jason; for it would have been a mistake on her part not to have done this, if she had done the other. This topic and kind of enthymeme is the subject of the whole of the first “Art” of Theodorus.48  Another topic is derived from the meaning of a name. For instance, Sophocles says, “ Certainly thou art iron, like thy name.49
” This topic is also commonly employed in praising the gods.
Conon used to call Thrasybulus “the man bold in counsel,” and Herodicus said of Thrasymachus, “Thou art ever bold in fight,” and of Polus, “Thou art ever Polus （colt） by name and colt by nature,”50 and of Draco the legislator that his laws were not those of a man, but of a dragon, so severe were they. Hecuba in Euripides51 speaks thus of Aphro-dite: “ And rightly does the name of the goddess begin like the word aphro-syne （folly）;
” and Chaeremon52 of Pentheus, “ Pentheus named after his unhappy future.
”  Enthymemes that serve to refute are more popular than those that serve to demonstrate, because the former is a conclusion of opposites53 in a small compass, and things in juxtaposition are always clearer to the audience. But of all syllogisms, whether refutative or demonstrative, those are specially applauded, the result of which the hearers foresee as soon as they are begun, and not because they are superficial （for as they listen they congratulate themselves on anticipating the conclusion）; and also those which the hearers are only so little behind that they understand what they mean as soon as they are delivered.
1 Assuming that self-control is good, then if the opposite of good （that is, bad） can be predicated of lack of self-control, this proves the truth of the first proposition; otherwise, it may be refuted.
2 Cf. 1.13.2 note.
3 Authorship unknown.
4 Euripides, Thyestes （Frag. 396, T.G.F.）.
5 The argument is that if there was no disgrace in selling the right of farming the taxes, there could be none in purchasing this right.
6 Pupil of Plato and Isocrates, great friend of Aristotle, the author of fifty tragedies and also of an “Art” of Rhetoric. Alcmaeon murdered his mother Eriphyle. Alphesiboea, his wife, says to him, Was not your mother hated? To this he replied, Yes, but there is a distinction; they said she deserved to die, but not at my hands.
7 Nothing is known of this trial.
8 The argument is that since men beat their fathers less commonly than they do their neighbors, if they beat their fathers they will also beat their neighbors, and the Paris ms. in a longer form of this argument has an explanatory addition to this effect, inserting after ὑπάρχει the words τοὺς γὰρ πατέρας ἧττον τύπτουσιν ἢ τοὺς πλησίον. In a similar passage in Aristot. Top. 2.10 εἰκός （or δοκοῦν） is inserted after μᾶλλον and ἧττον. Welldon suggests that here also the reading should be τὸ ἧττον εἰκός and τὸ μᾶλλον εἰκός （Grote, Aristotle, p. 294）.
9 From the Meleager of Antiphon （T.G.F. p. 885）.
10 In carrying off Helen.
12 Fragment of a speech of Lysias. It was proposed to put up a statue to the famous Athenian general Iphicrates in honor of his defeat of the Spartans （393 B.C.）. This was later opposed by Harmodius, probably a descendant of the tyrannicide. The speech, which is considered spurious, was called ἡ περὶ τῆς εἰκόνος.
13 Or, “the ways of doing this are various” （Jebb）.
14 The illustration is lost or perhaps purposely omitted as well known. The Teucer was a tragedy of Sophocles.
15 It would be absurd to use such an argument against the accusation of a “just man” like Aristides, and to pretend that he is more likely to have committed the crime. It must only be used when the opponent's character is suspect, and lends itself to such a retort.
16 The reference is obviously to Socrates, who claimed that a daimonion （a certain divine principle that acted as his internal monitor） checked his action in many cases. When accused of not believing in the gods, he was able to prove, by his definition of the daimonion, that he was no atheist. Similarly, Iphicrates, by his definition of γενναῖος and συγγενής could refute the allegation that he was ignoble and show that his deeds were more akin to those of Harmodius and Aristogiton than to those of his opponents. Paris could say that he was not intemperate, because he was satisfied with Helen alone. Lastly, Socrates refused an invitation to visit Archelaus, king of Macedonia, because he would be unable to return the benefits received, which would imply his being put to shame, and make the invitation a kind of insult.
17 Of Polycrates.
18 “Just as it is to requite them with evil” （Jebb）.
19 Supplying [λελέκται] περὶ τοῦ ὀρθῶς [χρῆσθαι αὐτοῖς]. Others render “in reference to the use of the word ὀρθῶς” （but ὀρθῶς does not occur in the passage in Aristot. Top. 1.15）. A suggested reading is περὶ τούτου ὀρθῶς εἴρηται.
20 Mantias had one legitimate son Mantitheus and two illegitimate by a certain Plangon. Mantias at first refused to acknowledge the latter as his sons, until the mother declared they were.
23 Something has fallen out, what follows being intended to prove that the best rulers for a state are the philosophers.
24 Epaminondas and Pelopidas. One would rather expect, “as soon as philosophers had the conduct of affairs.”
25 Athenian ambassador to Sparta （371 B.C.）, whose aggressive policy he attacked. His argument is that, if the Eumenides could agree without any loss of dignity to stand their trial before the Areopagus, as described in Aeschylus, surely Mixidemides could do the same. Nothing is known of Mixidemides, but it is clear that he refused to submit his case to it, when charged with some offense.
26 The story is told of Agesipolis （which others read here） in Xen. Hell. 4.7.2. The Argives, when a Lacedaemonian army threatened to invade their territory, were in the habit of alleging that it was festival time, when there should be a holy truce. This obviously left the door open to fraud, so Agesipolis （one of the Spartan kings） consulted the oracle of Zeus at Olympia to ask whether he was to respect such a truce. The reply of the oracle was that he might decline a truce fraudulently demanded. To confirm this, Agesipolis put the same question to Apollo: “Is your opinion as to the truce the same as that of your father （Zeus）?” “Certainly,” answered Apollo. Agesipolis thereupon invaded Argos. The point is that really Apollo had little choice, since it would have been disgraceful for the son to contradict the father.
27 After his defeat at Aegospotami （405 B.C.） the Athenian general Conon, fearing for his life, took refuge with Evagoras, king of Cyprus—a proof, according to Aristotle, of the goodness of the latter.
28 If the genus can be affirmed of any subject, then one or other of the species, which make up the genus, must also be predicable of it. If the proposition to be maintained is, the soul is moved, it is necessary to examine whether any of the different kinds of motion （increase, decrease, decay, change of place, generation, alteration） can be predicated of the soul. If not, the generic predicate is not applicable, and the proposition is refuted.
29 The bad with the good. The exact meaning of βλαίσωσις has not been satisfactorily explained. In the definition given of the retortion of a dilemma, the two opposite things would be speaking truth or untruth; the two opposite consequences, pleasing men and pleasing God.
30 e.g. a man may say that an honorable death should be preferred to a pleasant life, and honest poverty to ill-acquired wealth, whereas really he wishes the opposite. “If then his words are in accordance with his real wishes, he must be confronted with his public statements; if they are in accordance with the latter, he must be confronted with his secret wishes. In either case he must fall into paradox, and contradict either his publicly expressed or secret opinions.” （Aristot. Sophist. Elenchi 2.12, Poste's translation）.
31 This “law” （already mentioned in 23.11） is said to have been an oration on the legal position of mercenaries.
32 Cause and effect.
36 i.e., after their return, they preferred to leave the city rather than fight. This is Cope's explanation, but the meaning of the clause ὁτὲ μὲν . . . ᾑροῦντο is then somewhat obscure. A more suitable interpretation would be: “At one time they preferred to return from exile at the price of fighting; at another, not to fight at the price of being exiled a second time （St. Hilaire）,” but one does not see how this can be got out of the Greek.
37 The author is unknown.
38 Frag. 2 （T.G.F. p. 792）.
40 By pointing out what is likely to deter a man from committing a crime, and vice versa.
41 The argument is: we accept either that which really is, or that which is probable; if then a statement is made which is incredible and improbable, we assume that it would not have been made, unless it was true.
42 Athenian demagogue and opponent of Alcibiades, for whose banishment he was chiefly responsible. When the Four Hundred were set up, he was put to death. Pitthus was an Athenian deme or parish.
44 The names of traitors were inscribed on a brazen pillar in the Acropolis. Leodamas supported the oligarchic, Thrasybulus the democratic party. In answer to the charge that he had had his name removed from the pillar when his party came into power, Leodamas replied that, if he had been originally posted as an enemy of the people and a hater of democracy, he would have preferred to keep the record, as likely to increase the confidence of the Thirty in him, than to have it erased, even though it branded him as a traitor.
45 If a person has not taken the better course, when he had the chance of doing so, he cannot be guilty.
46 Leucothea was the name of the deified Ino. She was the daughter of Cadmus and the wife of Athamas king of Thebes. The latter went mad and, in order to escape from him, Ino threw herself into the sea with her infant son Melicertes. Both became marine deities.
47 Tragic poet, contemporary of Aristophanes （T.G.F. p. 798）.
48 An early edition, afterwards enlarged. It must have contained something more than the topic of “errors” to be of any use.
50 Thompson's rendering （Introd. to his edition of Plato's Gorgias p. 5）. “Colt” refers to Polus's skittishness and frisking from one subject to another.
53 “Admitting the apparent correctness of the opposing argument, we may prove the contradictory of its conclusion by an unassailable argument of our own, which is then called an elenchus” （Thomson, Laws of Thought, section 127）.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.