Rhetoric can be defined as the art of effective verbal expression or persuasion. Demosthenes, the great Greek orator (385-322 B.C.), often comes to mind in this context along with other great ancient Greek and Roman “public speakers.” Thanks to the false self we are more likely to be deceived by demagogues than to believe those who have our best interests at heart.
“Cicero’s brother Quintus drew up for him a manual of electioneering technique. ‘Be lavish in your promisces,’ Quintus advised; ‘men prefer a false promise to a flat refusal. Contrive to get some new scandal aired against your rivals for crime, corruption, or immorality.’” Sound familiar? The art of persuasion can quickly morph into the art of deception.