Cydney Lymous

A major figure in the development and codification of the five canons of rhetoric was Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. The five canons of rhetoric represent different aspects of producing an effective message. Although they were originally created with a focus on public speaking, most are also applicable to written rhetoric.

Invention (Inventio)

Invention refers to coming up with an idea. In writing, invention largely occurs during the prewriting stage.

Arrangement (Dispositio)

Arrangement is all about organization. This is where the writer or speaker takes what they invented and thinks about how they will put it in order so that it will be most effective.

Style (Elocutio)

Style refers to elements such as word choice, tone, and pace. The writer must think about what or how they would like their readers to feel. The Visual Communication Guy website puts it this way: “What words will you choose? What phrases and stories will you tell? What will be your pace? Will you use figures of speech or other linguistic devices to enhance understanding and appeal?”

Memory (Memoria)

Memory refers to the speaker’s ability to memorize their speech or the writer’s knowledge and understanding of the content: “When we refer to memory in rhetoric, we mean that a speaker or communicator should know as much as possible about a topic before presenting so that, should an occasion arise to improvise or answer questions, you would know the topic so well that you could respond with accuracy and professionalism” (University of Arkansas).

Delivery (Pronunciato)

Delivery refers to how the message will be presented or communicated. In a speech, for instance, the presenter must focus on eye contact, posture, and articulation. For a written document, delivery may involve concerns such as page layout and design.


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