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14. 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.

[2] In epideictic speeches, the sources of the exordia are praise and blame, as Gorgias, in the Olympiacus, says, “Men of Greece, you are worthy to be admired by many,” where he is praising those who instituted the solemn assemblies. Isocrates on the other hand blames them because they rewarded bodily excellences, but instituted no prize for men of wisdom. [3] Exordia may also be derived from advice, for instance, one should honor the good, wherefore the speaker praises Aristides, or such as are neither famous nor worthless, but who, although they are good, remain obscure, as Alexander, son of Priam;
for this is a piece of advice. [4] Again, they may be derived from forensic exordia, that is to say, from appeals to the hearer, if the subject treated is paradoxical, difficult, or commonly known, in order to obtain indulgence, like Choerilus2: “ But now when all has been allotted.

” These then are the sources of epideictic exordia—praise, blame, exhortation, dissuasion, appeals to the hearer. And these exordia3 may be either foreign or intimately connected with the speech.

[5] As for the exordia of the forensic speech, it must be noted that they produce the same effect as dramatic prologues and epic exordia (for those of dithyrambs resemble epideictic exordia: “For thee and thy presents or spoils).4” [6] But in speeches5 and epic poems the exordia provide a sample of the subject, in order that the hearers may know beforehand what it is about, and that the mind may not be kept in suspense, for that which is undefined leads astray; so then he who puts the beginning, so to say, into the hearer's hand enables him, if he holds fast to it, to follow the story. Hence the following exordia: “ Sing the wrath, O Muse.6

” “ Tell me of the man, O Muse.7

” “ Inspire me with another theme, how from the land of Asia a great war crossed into Europe.8

” Similarly, tragic poets make clear the subject of their drama, if not at the outset,
like Euripides, at least somewhere in the prologue, like Sophocles, “ My father was Polybus.9

” It is the same in comedy. So then the most essential and special function of the exordium is to make clear what is the end or purpose of the speech; wherefore it should not be employed, if the subject is quite clear or unimportant. [7] All the other forms of exordia in use are only remedies,10 and are common to all three branches of Rhetoric. These are derived from the speaker, the hearer, the subject, and the opponent. From the speaker and the opponent, all that helps to destroy or create prejudice. But this must not be done in the same way; for the defendant must deal with this at the beginning, the accuser in the epilogue. The reason is obvious. The defendant, when about to introduce himself, must remove all obstacles, so that he must first clear away all prejudice; the accuser must create prejudice in the epilogue, that his hearers may have a livelier recollection of it.

The object of an appeal to the hearer is to make him well disposed or to arouse his indignation, and sometimes to engage his attention or the opposite; for it is not always expedient to engage his attention, which is the reason why many speakers try to make their hearers laugh. As for rendering the hearers tractable, everything will lead up to it if a person wishes, including the appearance of respectability,
because respectable persons command more attention. Hearers pay most attention to things that are important, that concern their own interests, that are astonishing, that are agreeable; wherefore one should put the idea into their heads that the speech deals with such subjects. To make his hearers inattentive, the speaker must persuade them that the matter is unimportant, that it does not concern them, that it is painful.

[8] But we must not lose sight of the fact that all such things are outside the question, for they are only addressed to a hearer whose judgement is poor and who is ready to listen to what is beside the case; for if he is not a man of this kind, there is no need of an exordium, except just to make a summary statement of the subject, so that, like a body, it may have a head. [9] Further, engaging the hearers' attention is common to all parts of the speech, if necessary; for attention slackens everywhere else rather than at the beginning. Accordingly, it is ridiculous to put this11 at the beginning, at a time when all listen with the greatest attention. Wherefore, when the right moment comes, one must say, “And give me your attention, for it concerns you as much as myself”; and, “I will tell you such a thing as you have never yet” heard of, so strange and wonderful. This is what Prodicus used to do; whenever his hearers began to nod, he would throw in a dash of his fifty-drachma lecture. [10] But it is clear that one does not speak thus to the hearer qua hearer;12 for all in their exordia endeavor either to arouse prejudice or to remove their own apprehensions:
“ O prince, I will not say that with haste [I have come breathless].13

” “ Why this preamble?14

” This is what those also do who have, or seem to have, a bad case; for it is better to lay stress upon anything rather than the case itself. That is why slaves never answer questions directly but go all round them, and indulge in preambles. [11] We have stated15 how the hearer's goodwill is to be secured and all other similar states of mind. And since it is rightly said, “ Grant that on reaching the Phaeacians I may find friendship or compassion,16

” the orator should aim at exciting these two feelings.

In epideictic exordia, one must make the hearer believe that he shares the praise, either himself, or his family, or his pursuits, or at any rate in some way or other. For Socrates says truly in his Funeral Oration that “it is easy to praise Athenians in the presence of Athenians, but not in the presence of Lacedaemonians.”17

[12] Deliberative oratory borrows its exordia from forensic, but naturally they are very uncommon in it. For in fact the hearers are acquainted with the subject, so that the case needs no exordium, except for the orator's own sake, or on account of his adversaries, or if the hearers attach too much or too little importance to the question according to his idea. Wherefore he must either excite or remove prejudice, and magnify or minimize the importance of the subject. Such are the reasons for exordia; or else they merely serve the purpose of ornament,
since their absence makes the speech appear offhand. For such is the encomium on the Eleans, in which Gorgias, without any preliminary sparring or movements, starts off at once, “Elis, happy city.”

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.

2 Of Samos, epic poet, author of a poem on the Persian war, from which this half-line and the context preserved in the Scholiast are taken. He complains that whereas the poets of olden times had plenty to write about, the field of poetry being as yet untilled, it was now all apportioned, and he, the last of the poets, was left behind, unable to find “a new chariot for the race-course of his song. ”

3 ἐνδόσιμα = προοίμια.

4 A parenthetical remark to the effect that epideictic exordia are different. Those of a forensic speech are like prologues and epic exordia, but it is different with epideictic, which may be wild, high-flown, as in the example given from an unknown author.

5 That is, forensic speeches. δράμασι has been suggested for λόγοις.

6 Hom. Il 1.1.

7 Hom. Od. 1.1.

8 From Choerilus (sect. 4).

9 Soph. OT 774. But this can hardly be called the prologue.

10 That is, special remedies in the case of the hearers suffering from “inattention, unfavorable disposition, and the like” (Cope).

11 i.e., to claim the hearer's attention at the beginning, for every one is keen to listen then, but later on attention slackens.

12 The hearer qua hearer should be unbiased, but in fact hearers often suffer from the defects referred to in sect. 7, for which certain forms of exordia are remedies.

13 Soph. Ant. 223.

14 Eur. IT 1162.

15 2.1.7, 8.

16 Hom. Od. 7.327.

17 See 1.9.30.

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