Metanoia (from the Greek μετάνοια, metanoia, changing one's mind) in the context of rhetoric is a device used to retract a statement just made, and then state it in a better way. As such, metanoia is similar to correction. Metanoia is used in recalling a statement in two ways—-to weaken the prior declaration or to strengthen it.
The use of metanoia to weaken a statement is effective because the original statement still stands, along with the qualifying statement. For instance, when one says, "I will murder you. You shall be punished," the force of the original statement ("I will murder you") remains, while a more realistic alternative has been put forward ("you shall be punished").
I still fall short of it through my own fault, and through not observing the admonitions of the gods, and, I may almost say, their direct instructions (Book One);
Here Aurelius utilizes metanoia to move from a mild idea ("not observing the admonitions of the gods") to a more intense one ("not observing... their direct instructions"); the clause "I may almost say" introduces the metanoia.
- Cuddon, J.A., ed. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 3rd ed. Penguin Books: New York, 1991.
- Robert A. Harris (2010-01-05). "Metanoi". A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices. Virtualsalt.com. p. 4. Retrieved 2010-01-20.