11
May
10

Eloquence Without Truth? I say not!

Over the weekend, I read an article in The Morning Call detailing the career of Allentown attorney John Karoly.  His sister Candy Karoly Pamerleau told the reporter that her brother “put himself above the law…because he’s an eloquent speaker. It’s very easy for him to take a grain of truth and spin it.” I do not know Mr. Karoly or his sister, and I could understand how she might associate good speaking with bad deeds, but I wish to assert that eloquence in the truest sense arises from greatness.    

In many of his writings the Roman orator Cicero notes that the eloquence derives from wisdom and that eloquence and morality could not be separated.    Similarly, another great Roman rhetorician Quintillian said that “no man (I’m sure he meant to add woman) can speak well who is not good him/(her)self.”  

The term eloquence is better reserved for utterances that have proven historical merit.  According to the website www.americanrhetoric.com, the greatest speeches in American history include: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  “I Have A Dream” speech,   John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s inaugural address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural address and  Barbara Charline Jordan’s 1976 DNC keynote address. 

If utterances are temporarily persuasive, we would do better to call them just that:  persuasive.    Let us

 reserve the more regal-sounding word, eloquence, for speech aiming at a higher purpose than temporary acclaim.


2 Responses to “Eloquence Without Truth? I say not!”


  1. May 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    It’s not just what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. We not only have more more ways of communicating but we have subject ourselves more to interpret today than ever before. For me, I am not only listening to the dynamics and the consistency of the speaker’s message but also, the imagery of the speaker. Does the speaker look comfortable and is the speaker have confidence? It’s easy to be understood, even easier to be misunderstood.
    The verisimilitude of the speaker needs to be considered.

  2. May 11, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Indeed, Mr. Ad Man. Thank you for reading my blog and responding. What big words you use.


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