Wilson, Douglas, and Nathan D. Wilson. The Rhetoric Companion: A Student's Guide to Power in Persuasion. Moscow, Idaho: Canon, 2011.
Lesson 18, “Invention, Stasis, and the Exordium” pp. 89-92.
The exordium, or introduction, of a speech should generally be prepared last. In this way the speaker is already well informed about the arrangement and main points of the speech (Wilson 2011, 89). Wilson discusses stasis theory, the idea of choosing a standing place for the argument. Knowing the overall important point, the hill to die on, is very useful in identifying and pursuing the right questions and arguments (Wilson 2011, 89).
The speaker, having identified the thesis, will now know how to deal with issues. Wilson discusses the fact that some issues are specific (he also uses the word ‘“definite”) or general (“indefinite”). The specific issue is an actual situation, “should Cato marry?” (Wilson 2011, 90). A general issue is not an actual situation but a broader concept, ‘should a person marry?” (Wilson 2011, 90). Of course, most questions lead to other questions. Various questions serve as the “hinges” in a speech, showing its outline. Wilson summarizes Hermagoras, who stated four basic questions.
- Conjectuire: Is there something to talk about? Does it exist? Did it happen?
- Definition: And what kind of thing or event is it anyway?
- Quality: Do we approve or disapprove? Was it right or wrong?
- Procedure: What is the course of action? What should we do?