Aristotle’s Rhetoric

18 Jun

Young men are lustful in character, and apt to do what they lust after.  Of the bodily desires, they are most apt to indulge, and to exceed in, the sexual.  They are changeable and fickle in their desires, which are violent but soon appeased; for their impulses are rather keen than great, like the hunger and the thirst of the sick.  They are passionate, quick to anger and apt to obey their impulse; and they are under the dominion of their passion, for, by reason of ambition, they cannot bear to be slighted, and they are indignant, if they think they are wronged.  They are ambitious or rather  contentious; for youth covets preeminence, and victory is a form of preeminence.  They are both ambitious and contentious rather than avaricious; this they are not at all, because they have not yet experienced want—as goes the saying of Pittakos about Amphiaraos. They think no evil, but believe in goodness, because as yet they have not seen many cases of vice.  They are credulous, because, as yet, they have not been deceived.  They are sanguine, because they are heated, as with wine, and also because they have not had many disappointments.  They live for the most part by hope; for hope is of the future, as memory of the past, and as for young men the future is long and the past short;since, on the first day of a life, there is nothing to remember and everything to hope.  They are easily deceived, for the same reason,—since they hope easily.  They are comparatively courageous; for they are passionate and hopeful, and passion keeps men from being fearful, while hope makes them bold: no one fears while he is angry, and to hope a good thing is emboldening.  They are shy; for, as yet, they have no independent standard of propriety, but have been educated by convention alone.  they are high-minded; for they they have not yet been abased by life, but are untried in its necessities; ant to think oneself worthy of great things is high-mindedness; and this is characteristic of the hopeful man.  They choose honourable before expedient actions; for they live by habit rather than by calculation; and calculation has the expedient for its object, as virtue  has the honourable.  They are fond of their friends, their relations, their companions, more than persons of other ages, because they delight in society, and because, as yet, they, they judge nothing by the stndard of expediency, and so do not apply it to their friends.  All their mistakes are on the side of excess or vehemence—against the maxim of Chilon; they do everything too much; they love too much, hate too much, and so in all else.  They think they know everything and are positive; this, indeed, is the cause of their overdoing all things.  Their wrong deeds are done insolently, not viciously.  They are ready to pity, because they think all men good, or rather good; for they measure their neighbors by their own innocence, and so conceive that these are suffering wrongfully.  And they are lovers of laughter,—hence also lovers of wit; for wit is educated insolence.


Eds: J.L. Golden, G.F. Berquist, W.E. Coleman J. M. Sproule;  The Rhetoric of Western Thought   From  the Mediterranean World to the Global Setting Eighth Ed. (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company Dubuque Iowa  ©1976- 2004) p.74

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