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Some Functions of Rhetorical Questions in Lysias’ Forensic Orations

Hall, Edith

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The rhetorical question, often assumed to have been favoured by the sophist Gorgias, became a fundamental feature of ancient rhetoric in both Greek and Latin. By the time of Senecan tragedy, an accumulation of as many as seventeen serial rhetorical questions can be found expressing extremes of emotion, especially indignation or despair. Rhetorical questions in some archaic and classical Greek authors have received limited attention, for example, in the Iliad those delivered by Thersites in exciting indignation (2.225–233) and by the authorial voice to create pathos in asking Patroclus about the Trojans he has killed (16.692–693); the string of questions Aphrodite humorously asks in Sappho 1; the ritual queries in the Derveni Papyrus; the series of two to three questions found (often near the beginning of speeches) in the agōns of some tragedies. But the increasing variety and sophistication of the deployment of the rhetorical question in the Greek orators has been surprisingly neglected. This article analyses some of the different uses to which Lysias puts rhetorical questions especially in relation to characterisation in his orations and argues that they represent a considerable advance on the practice of any predecessor in any genre.


Hall, E. (2022). Some Functions of Rhetorical Questions in Lysias’ Forensic Orations. Trends in Classics, 14(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Nov 11, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jan 6, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 6, 2023
Journal Trends in Classics
Print ISSN 1866-7473
Electronic ISSN 1866-7481
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2


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