Aristotle, and W. Rhys Roberts. Rhetoric. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Book I, chapter 9
Aristotle now considers “Virtue and Vice, the Noble and the Base” (Aristotle I.9, B 1366a). In examining this idea, we also see how to make the audience think well of the speaker by trusting the speaker’s goodness. Virtue, according to Aristotle, appears in the forms of “justice, courage, temperance, magnificence, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence, wisdom” (Aristotle I.9, B 1366b). He describes the good in each, briefly, often also citing the opposite of a virtue. It is sometimes difficult to identify virtues correctly, as they are not merely deeds but are motivated in a particular way. Aristotle uses courage and rashness as an example (Aristotle I.9, B 1367b). A speech of praise, therefore, goes beyond the actions to speak of the good qualities which led to the actions. “Praise is the expression in words of the eminence of a man’s good qualities, and therefore we must display his actions as the product of such qualities” (Aristotle I.9, B 1367b). If possible, praise should be issued for something remarkable. For instance, the person was the first to accomplish something or he did it at an unexpected and valuable time (Aristotle I.9, B 1368a). Comparison to other, lesser, men is always helpful as well.