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‘And those (are provoking) who use irony to (πρός, in reply to, or conversation with) us when we are in serious earnest (whether merely talking, or engaged in some serious pursuit: either of these is provoked by untimely levity; which is construed as a kind of contempt), for irony is expressive of contempt’. This characteristic or construction of irony is not noticed in the analysis of it in Eth. Nic. IV 13, 1127 b 22 seq. In IV 8, 1124 b 30, it appears as a trait in the character of the μεγαλόψυχος, and is part of the contemptuous bearing (1124 b 5 ὁ δὲ μεγαλόψυχος δικαίως καταφρονεῖ) to the vulgar which is suitable to his dignity, εἴρωνα δὲ πρὸς τοὺς πολλούς. On irony and its uses in Rhetoric, besides the passage from the Ethics already quoted, see Rhet. ad Alexandrum 22. 1, Cic. de Orat. II 67. 269 seq., III 53. 203, Quint. VIII 6. 54, IX 2. 44 seq. Socrates was probably one of those whose constant use of εἰρωνεία was construed as contempt, and contributed to his unpopularity.
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