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The exordium is the beginning of a speech, as
the prologue in poetry and the prelude in flute-playing; for all these are beginnings, and as it were a paving the way for what follows. The prelude resembles the exordium of epideictic speeches; for as flute-players begin by playing whatever they can execute skilfully and attach it to the key-note, so also in epideictic speeches should be the composition of the exordium; the speaker should say at once whatever he likes, give the key-note and then attach the main subject. And all do this, an example being the exordium of the Helen of Isocrates; for the eristics and Helen have nothing in common.1 At the same time, even if the speaker wanders from the point, this is more appropriate than that the speech should be monotonous.

1 The subject of the oration was the praise of Helen, but Isocrates took the opportunity of attacking the sophists. This exemplifies his skill in the introduction of matter not strictly proper to, or in common with, the subject. The key-note is Helen; but the exordium is an attack on the Eristics, with special allusion to the Cynics and the Megarians.

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load focus Notes (E. M. Cope, 1877)
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