Rhetoric is a brilliant form of art. Some may be questioning how this may be, and I will argue that it is art in the same manner as poetry, as music and even as spoken word. It is a verbal art and also a linguistic one. It takes a skilled rhetorician to use the power of rhetoric effectively. Gorgias (from Plato’s Gorgias) said it best when he posed the question: “What is there greater than the word which persuades the judges in the courts, or the senators in the council, or the citizens in the assembly, or at any other political meeting?-if you have the power of uttering this word, you will have the physician your slave, and the trainer your slave, and the money-maker of whom you talk will be found to gather treasures, not for himself, but for you who are able to speak and to persuade the multitude.”
While not a very popular or well-liked individual, Adolf Hitler is an example of someone who used rhetoric well, even if it was in a negative manner. He was able to convince an entire organized group of people to rally against the Jews, communism, and varied other things. He had absolute power in Germany because his word was power. No one dared to try and rise against him and if they did, they were killed by those that supported him. Now if he had put that ability to sway the masses to good use, imagine how much better the world could have possibly turned out.
Another example of a good rhetorician with the power to spark people to action was Patrick Henry. He was the one behind the Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech. It is thanks to him that the delegates of the first thirteen colonies decided to revolutionize against Britain; as a matter of fact, he became one of the symbols of the American Revolution. If he had just kept his lips closed, we may still be under Britain’s thumb today.
Gandhi is yet another skilled historical rhetorician who used his words to speak about nonviolence and helped to give India it’s independence from Britain. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech was actually inspired by the teachings of Gandhi. He not only influenced a nation to stand up for themselves nonviolently, but he also spoke for Hindu and Muslim equality.
Rhetoricians are those that are good at using persuasive speech to make a point. Not every rhetorician is a historical figure or well-known and famous. Some rhetoricians live among us as regular
people in society. That is why the next person on my list of great rhetoricians is my mother. She is a very intelligent woman, who taught me from an early age that negotiating is a key skill to have to get through this world. She learns everything she needs to about a subject and can speak circles around anyone with the subject matter she knows. She has on several occasions shown that she can handle the courtroom just as well as any lawyer, and she didn’t even spend the four extra years in college to get a higher level law degree. She’s just good with how she uses her rhetoric.
I would like to say that I consider myself a rhetorician in training. Like my mother, I have been known to be skillful at crafting the words and phrases necessary to provide strong and hard-hitting arguments and points. I am not one for constant speech, but I try to make sure that the words I say bring across the message that I need them to relay. I hope to one day perfect this craft, and, like Gorgias, be “the rhetorician [that] can speak against all men and upon any subject-in short, [where] he can persuade the multitude better than any other man of anything which he pleases.”