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Rhetorical Analysis

The article ‘Hail Cicero, a Death and Afterlife’ was written December 8, 2017 for the
Washington D.C. based magazine The American Conservative. The author is E.J.
Hutchinson who is a renowned and multi-published book and magazine article author.
Hutchinson is an Associate Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College. His intended
audience, I believe, is that of a traditional conservatist, or those that have a need for
principles of a transcendent moral order acknowledged by societal law.
The author would like his readers to believe in his argument that readers would benefit
from the philosopher Cicero being in their lives. He has created an article about the
events that led up to the beheading, and behanding, of Cicero during the fall of the
Roman Republic. He focuses on stories of great importance that highlight these events.
He speaks of Cicero’s plight to flee, and of his detrimental return, despite his servant’s
unspoken acknowledgement of omens that they were headed back toward danger.
Roman politician/military general Julius Caesar was calling for vicious political slayings,
even after the slaughter of his younger brother and nephew, and Cicero was determined
to put a stop to it. Cicero planned to enter Caesar’s home to take Caesar’s life. By
surprise, Cicero was met by an empty home other than the hired assassins. Caesar
knew he was coming. As Cicero prepared for his beheading, he stretched out his neck
and looked his executioners steadfastly in the eyes, as if he was giving them permission
to take his life.
This story being told, I believe Hutchinson’s rhetoric was his intent of holding on to, or
grasping, the idea of revisiting noted philosophers; not just for knowledge sake, but for
revision of inner self-reflection. How do I truly feel in this moment in time, or about this
concept, and how may I affect what happens next as we all move forward? It also poses
the question of how may I better understand the plight of targeted political figures and
where is the political hatred truly seeded?
Hutchinson’s use of logos, pathos, and ethos are extremely apparent throughout. Was
his appeal effective enough, though? Had Hutchinson included conversation of the
overwhelming efforts of deterring immigration to the United States by current political
decisions, which have negated so many statutes of the Declaration of Independence,
would his article during that period have been more effective referencing Cicero’s plight?
Could he have, using the question of sanctified rights of rebellion/voyage of safety and
prosperity, reached a broader audience?
The author opens his claim with an eye-catching photographical concept. It is an art
piece of Roman senator Cicero denouncing the conspirator Catiline in the Roman
senate. Hutchinson chose a picture that stimulates logos and pathos. This was
important, for a logos visual of question may appeal to his target audience slightly faster
than a logos text of question. Should the reader have clicked on this article, they would
be led to question themselves “What is this, obviously respected man of words, going to
say or try to convey, to his audience?”
The choice concept of content is quite evidentiary of speaking to a well-established
audience with similar values and political interests. The different iterations of complex
syntax verbiage are engaging. Hutchinson’s extremely effective directive of the
conversation begins with opening his rhetorical dialogue with mention of a logos
connection of the date 7th of December, and continues with his use of pathos in his
closing question of “So this December, perhaps when in need of a momentary
contemplative retreat from the holiday hustle and bustle, why not pick up one of Cicero’s
works in honor of his memory and acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with one of history’s
most important and engaging figures?”. This structure choice by Hutchinson of tying
together the opening and closing of his narrative creates a satisfying conclusion for his
readers.
Hutchinson invites his rhetorical text dialogue with a very vivid imaginative visual for not
only Americans, but nearly every person of existence since 1941. He does this by not
only mentioning the date of the murder of Cicero, which was December 7, 43 B.C., but
by mentioning the fact that this is also the anniversary date of the bombing of Pearl
Harbor. This not only evokes logos with the intrigue of how we can connectively relate to
December 7, but also pathos with the intrigue of why it is that we should care. This
creates a very strong tone of respectful, authoritatively informative, intro-spec.
His use of pathos with a statement of “As the Republic sputtered to its end, the killing of
political enemies by the powerful via proscription lists had become de rigueur”, de
rigueur meaning required by etiquette or current fashion. This may have been an
opportune time to speak of current outspoken political rhetoric and how closely it is
associated to Cicero’s inner and societal struggles with Julius Caesar. The choice of
conceptually factual content, I believe, allows Hutchinson’s readers to, as it is said, “dig
a little deeper”. He beautifully referenced critical logos by asking “Why should we care
about him now?” Could he have, using the question of sanctified rights of
rebellion/voyage of safety and prosperity, reached a broader audience? I believe that he
could have.
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