Posts Tagged ‘Lady Rhetoric’


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Reth”o*ryke (?), n. Rhetoric. [Obs.] Chaucer. (from the Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913)

I never had to read Chaucer in the original language; I wasn’t that sort of English major. On the other hand, the multiple spellings of Rhethoric, Rhetoric, Reythorike, have always entertained me. So also, the range of pronunciations: “Re-tor-ic”, “Reh-tor-ic”, and my personal favorite, “Rey-Thor-eeKay”.

Thus: Rey-thor-i-cal Questions

There are many representations, or allegories of Lady Rhetoric. Often she is portrayed with both a sword and a lily, to symbolize her role in argument [to attack and to defend] and other forms of discourse [to embellish or beautify]. The illustration from The Marriage of Philosophy and Mercury … uses these symbols and mentions that Rhetorica is “embraced by the Zone of Justice”.

Oh, is that what they called it back then?

Here’s Lady Rhetoric making a point.

A bit under-dressed, but still all-business


If I were her, I’d be lecturing on the injustice of women having to pay for alterations. Couldn’t that artist have clothed the personification of Eloquence better? [Of course, drawing the Muses or the Seven Liberal Arts might have been the only near-nekkid ladies you were allowed to publish in those days….]

Here’s another version, that gives Lady Rhetoric her sword and breastplate of colores [figures of speech, analogized as embellishments on her clothing]:

Lady Rhetorica

Look here for a better picture, from the cover of the splendid book, Reclaiming Rhetorica.


I usually accessorize with a black fedora and a fountain pen, since the crown headgear is right out these days, and swords are frowned on in the modern streets of Elsinore…

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