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The word rhetoric comes from the Greek word rhetor meaning a public speaker. In ancient Greece and Rome oratory was a part of rhetoric, the art of speaking before the public in a persuasive manner. Greek and Roman youths who aspired to hold public offices had to learn rhetoric well since they were frequently required to persuade, convince, move or impress others through Their speeches. To Aristotle rhetoric was the art of ' discovering and applying all the possible means of persuasion on any subject '. In course of time it was extended from speech to writing as well.  This change indicates that a good composition should exhibit some qualities that are aimed at moving the feelings of others, in addition to grammatical accuracy. 

In Greece,  schools were founded to impart training to learners on this subject. Aristotle and Quintilion discussed  the theory of rhetoric. This subject, with definite rules and models, was also emphasized in the education of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, though it largely remained confined to the Church. 

According to Locke rhetoric was  Now it means ' the whole art of elegant and effective composition, whether spoken or written '. Smith rightly regards rhetoric as ' the art of clear and effective use of language ' written or spoken,  as a vehicle for the communication of ideas.

Rhetoric and Grammar 

Both rhetoric and grammar are concerned with rules of composition and order of words in a sentence. Yet Their aims are different. While grammar aims at correctness of expression,  rhetoric,  in addition to this,  aims at making the expression beautiful and forceful. An expression may be grammatically correct ; still it may not be clear or graceful. Rhetoric removes this deficiency and makes one's composition perfect. Herein lies the superiority of rhetoric over grammar. 

Functions of Rhetoric 

There are two misconceptions as regards the use of rhetoric. The first is that ordinary persons use only literal language and the use of rhetoric lies beyond Their scope. The second is that the study of rhetoric is futile since a user of rhetoric,  whether in speech or writing,  does so by virtue of his natural gift and inborn power,  and not by any acquired quality.  In defence against the first we may point out that it is a widely observed fact that even ordinary persons  use, no matter whether consciously or unconsciously, a bit of rhetoric in their daily speech,  particularly when they try to express their thoughts forcefully.  In defence Against the second we may say that through the study of rhetoric will not turn everyone into a fine orator or an accomplished author,  it will certainly help a man to use his natural power to the greatest advantage,  enkindling within him an urge to add to his speech or writing both beauty and force to which he was hitherto almost unconscious. 

Thus,  it cannot be denied that the study of rhetoric is helpful to students and teachers,  orators and authors public and publicists,  as it enables them to express their thoughts and  ideas neatly,  elegantly and effectively.  We may say that the function of rhetoric is to employ such means whereby the effect of one's words on another's mind can be left striking and lasting. 


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