The Common Topics

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In classical rhetoric, the Common Topics were a short list of four traditional topics regarded as suitable to structure an argument.

Four Traditional Topics[edit]

  1. Past Fact (Circumstance)
  2. Possible/Impossible (Possibility)
  3. Future Fact (Circumstance)
  4. Greater/Lesser (Comparison)

Expanded List of Topics[edit]

Edward P.J. Corbett and Robert J. Connors expanded the list in their 1971 book Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student to include:

  • Definition
    • genus / division / species
    • etymology
    • description
    • definition
    • example
    • synonyms
  • Comparison
    • similarity
    • difference
    • degree
  • Circumstance
    • cause and effect
    • timing
  • Relationship
    • contraries
    • exclusion
  • Testimony
    • statistics
    • maxims
    • law
    • precedents
    • personal example
    • historical example
    • authoritative quotes

See also[edit]

References[edit]