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20. It remains to speak of the proofs common to all branches of Rhetoric, since the particular proofs have been discussed. These common proofs are of two kinds, example and enthymeme (for the maxim is part of an enthymeme). [2] Let us then first speak of the example; for the example resembles induction, and induction is a beginning.1

There are two kinds of examples; namely, one which consists in relating things that have happened before, and another in inventing them oneself. The latter are subdivided into comparisons or fables, [3] such as those of Aesop and the Libyan.2 It would be an instance of the historical kind of example, if one were to say that it is necessary to make preparations against the Great King and not to allow him to subdue Egypt; for Darius did not cross over to Greece until he had obtained possession of Egypt;
but as soon as he had done so, he did. Again, Xerxes did not attack us until he had obtained possession of that country, but when he had, he crossed over; consequently, if the present Great King shall do the same, he will cross over, wherefore it must not be allowed. [4] Comparison is illustrated by the sayings of Socrates; for instance, if one were to say that magistrates should not be chosen by lot, for this would be the same as choosing as representative athletes not those competent to contend, but those on whom the lot falls; or as choosing any of the sailors as the man who should take the helm, as if it were right that the choice should be decided by lot, not by a man's knowledge.3

[5] A fable, to give an example, is that of Stesichorus concerning Phalaris, or that of Aesop on behalf of the demagogue. For Stesichorus, when the people of Himera had chosen Phalaris dictator and were on the point of giving him a body-guard, after many arguments related a fable to them: “A horse was in sole occupation of a meadow. A stag having come and done much damage to the pasture, the horse, wishing to avenge himself on the stag, asked a man whether he could help him to punish the stag. The man consented, on condition that the horse submitted to the bit and allowed him to mount him javelins in hand. The horse agreed to the terms and the man mounted him, but instead of obtaining vengeance on the stag, the horse from that time became the man's slave. So then,” said he, “do you take care lest, in your desire to avenge yourselves on the enemy,
you be treated like the horse. You already have the bit, since you have chosen a dictator; if you give him a body-guard and allow him to mount you, you will at once be the slaves of Phalaris.” [6] Aesop, when defending at Samos a demagogue who was being tried for his life, related the following anecdote. “A fox, while crossing a river, was driven into a ravine. Being unable to get out, she was for a long time in sore distress, and a number of dog-fleas clung to her skin. A hedgehog, wandering about, saw her and, moved with compassion, asked her if he should remove the fleas. The fox refused and when the hedgehog asked the reason, she answered: ‘They are already full of me and draw little blood; but if you take them away, others will come that are hungry and will drain what remains to me.’ You in like manner, O Samians, will suffer no more harm from this man, for he is wealthy; but if you put him to death,
others will come who are poor, who will steal and squander your public funds.” [7] Fables are suitable for public speaking, and they have this advantage that, while it is difficult to find similar things that have really happened in the past, it is easier to invent fables; for they must be invented, like comparisons, if a man is capable of seizing the analogy; and this is easy if one studies philosophy.4 [8] Thus, while the lessons conveyed by fables are easier to provide, those derived from facts are more useful for deliberative oratory, because as a rule the future resembles the past.

[9] If we have no enthymemes, we must employ examples as demonstrative proofs, for conviction is produced by these; but if we have them, examples must be used as evidence and as a kind of epilogue to the enthymemes.5 For if they stand first, they resemble induction, and induction is not suitable to rhetorical speeches except in very few cases; if they stand last they resemble evidence, and a witness is in every case likely to induce belief. Wherefore also it is necessary to quote a number of examples if they are put first, but one alone is sufficient if they are put last; for even a single trustworthy witness is of use. We have thus stated how many kinds of examples there are, and how and when they should be made use of.

1 As a starting-point and first principle of knowledge.

2 The Libyan fables were of African origin. They are mentioned by Quintilian (Quint. Inst. Orat. 5.11.20) and belonged to the class of animal fables.

3 The παραβολή as understood by Aristotle is a comparison and application of cases easily supposable and such as occur in real life, for the purpose of illustrating the point in question; the fable, on the other hand, is pure fiction.

4 “Literary knowledge” (Jebb); “literature” (Cope, Introd. p. 256, who, however, in his annotated ed. explains: “intellectual study and mental exercises in general”).

5 If we have no enthymemes, we must use examples instead of them; for they are useful for persuasion, although they do not really demonstrate anything. If we have enthymemes, we must use examples in corroboration of them (see 21.3 note).

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