Albert Einstein's quip, that "Imagination is more important than knowledge," bespeaks the importance of style in rhetoric. You can muster all the logic at your disposal, but if you fail to move your audience, you will never persuade them. You may convince them, but not persuade them. The end of persuasion is action, and in order to move people to action, you've got to move the soul. (There are quite profound implications here if one stops to consider the ancient principle of internal movement . . .) I begin my instruction about the canon of style by, first motivating students to elevate the enterprise of speech composition. This is done by recapping the lecture on human excellence, and asserting that excellence is, in keeping with Einstein's sentiment, more a matter of creativity than of logic alone. Cultivating one's imagination and reason must be done simultaneously. I then discuss with them Sir Francis Bacon's definition of rhetoric, from De augmentis:
"The application of reason to imagination for the better moving of the will."
Bacon defines rhetoric in a manner congruent with the intellectual climate of his day. "Faculty psychology" was a project that captivated many thinkers in the Renaissance, and faculty psychology is clearly implicit in the above definition. The soul was understood in terms of its constituent parts, or faculties: memory, imagination, reason, will, appetite, and so forth. I think Bacon's definition makes a good introduction to the canon of style, because it gets one thinking about the relation of style to pathos. Attending to aesthetics in one's argumentation is important, if for no other reason, than that it exercises imagination (both the speaker's and the audience's.) It reminds us that rhetoric attempts to appeal to humans in the fullness of their being. In the traditional liberal arts education, style was learned by studying figures of speech.
Figures of speech are divided into:
Here are a few figures of speech for your consideration. There are many, many more examples at the Forest of Rhetoric.
Glossary of Schemes and Tropes (print version)
adapted from Jim W. Corder's Uses of Rhetoric. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co.), 1971.
Teaching Tip: I like to discuss this glossary with my students then give them a copy of Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," break them into small groups, and have a contest to see which group can spot the greatest number of figures in ten minutes.