Progymnasmata consisted of a standard set of exercises that were supposed to prepare a beginner for the study of rhetoric. For your fourth writing exercise, write a comparison (synkrisis) of two characters according to the guidelines of this progymnasmata exercise. Coming up with a text should rely on the first three rhetorical canons, which will also serve as a guideline for grading:
- Invention - What to say?
- Arrangement - In what order?
- Elocution/Style - In what words?
After having completed your exercise, in one sentence highlight one quality that progymnasmata as rhetorical education was supposed to develop and explain why.
Directions for Composition (http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Pedagogy/Progymnasmata/Comparison.htm (Links to an external site.))
Praise two people (or things) in close comparison, or praise one and vituperate against the other. Be certain not to treat them separately, but together, in parallel fashion. After composing an exordium (introduction), follow these steps:
- Describe the stock each person comes from:
- what people
- what country
- what ancestors
- what parents
- Describe each person's upbringing
- instruction in art
- training in laws
- Describe each person's deeds, which should be described as the results of [TOPOI application!!! So you get some chance to practice it! – this is just an excited note from your instructor]
- his/her excellencies or evils of mind (such as fortitude/weakness or prudence/indiscretion)
- his/her excellencies or evils of body (such as beauty/plainness, speed/lethargy, or vigor/lack of vigor)
- his/her excellencies or evils of fortune (good/ill use of high position, power, wealth, or friends)
- Conclude with an epilogue including either an exhortation to your hearers to/not to emulate either person, or a prayer.
Example. Traditionally a comparison of Achilles and Hector is suggested. The most famous examples from antiquity of comparison orsinkrisis are from Plutarch's parallel lives, such as that comparing Demosthenes and Cicero (http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/d_cicero.html). (Links to an external site.)
The characters for comparison were often of mythical, literary, or legendary origin. Here is a list of some contemporary examples that you can use for your writing:
- Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker
- Darth Vader vs. Kylo Ren
- Princess Leia vs. Luke Skywalker
- Edward vs. Jacob
- Bella Swan vs. Katniss Everdeen
- Daenerys Targaryen vs. Jon Snow
- Rick Grimes vs. Daryl Dixon
- Michonne vs. Daryl Dixon
- Walter White vs. Jesse Pinkman
- Homer Simpson vs. Peter Griffin
- Leslie Knope vs. Liz Lemon
- Batman vs. Joker
- Carl Sagan vs. Neil DeGrasse Tyson
- Fox Mulder vs. Dana Scully
- The 10th Doctor vs. 11th Doctor
- Harry Potter vs. Voldemort
- Sherlock vs. Luther
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