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The term “erotema” originates from the Greek ερωτημα (erotema), meaning “question”. In the field of rhetoric, erotema is the technical term for a question that is asked without expecting an answer because the answer itself is implied within the question. The lay term for “erotema” is “rhetorical question.”
Erotema can also be used to challenge someone directly. For example, in Cicero’s Catilinarian Orations, he asks, “How long, O Catiline, will you abuse our patience? And for how long will that madness of yours mock us? To what end will your unbridled audacity hurl itself?”
Erotema can easily be abused, thus becoming ineffective in persuasion. Most often, this occurs when one attempts to use erotema in false accusations or shameless denial. If Cicero’s challenges of Catiline were unfounded, then he would be guilty of falsely accusing him, therefore making his subsequent arguments less effective.