By Thomas Conley
From highschool cafeterias to the ground of Congress, insult is a very common and ubiquitous cultural perform with an extended and earthy heritage. And but, this such a lot human of human behaviors has hardly ever been the topic of equipped and entire attention—until Toward a Rhetoric of Insult. considered during the lens of the learn of rhetoric, insult, Thomas M. Conley argues, is printed as instantly delinquent and the most important for human kinfolk, either divisive and unifying.
Explaining how this works and what precisely makes up a rhetoric of insult activates Conley to diversity around the huge and wonderfully colourful historical past of offense. Taking in Monty Python, Shakespeare, Eminem, Cicero, Henry Ford, and the Latin poet Martial, Conley breaks down a number of different types of insults, examines the significance of viewers, and explores the benign facet of abuse. In doing so, Conley initiates readers into the realm of insult appreciation, allowing us to treat insults no longer completely as technique of expressing enmity or disdain, yet as attention-grabbing features of human interplay.
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Additional resources for Toward a Rhetoric of Insult
You had swilled down so much wine at the wedding of Hippias that you had to vomit it all up the next day right before the eyes of the Roman people. What a disgusting performance, even to hear about, much less to see! . In a gathering of Roman peo- 36 * c h a p t e r t w o ple doing public business . . —with gobbets of food reeking of wine! (63) Cicero describes what Antony and his fellow revelers did to Pompey’s estate after having it conﬁscated: Whole storerooms were lavished on utter ne’er-do-wells.
There are several more concrete and particular questions we can ask of a suspected insult that can help us sort things out. Obviously, the ﬁrst question is whether there is an expressed intention to insult. But how likely is it that anyone would preface an insult with “I’m going to insult you now”? That’s not only tactically unwise (forewarned is forearmed), but also perhaps inelegant. On the other hand, what tone can we pick up? Any contempt? Sarcasm? Of course, it’s hard to pick such things up when dealing with a written document—but it’s clearly not impossible.
What we are shown ﬁrst, however, is a bald grotesque with bizarre genitals (see no. 3). But Chrestus’s real vice is hypocrisy (no. 6): Curio, Camillus, and the rest are (or, rather, were by Martial’s time) real people, important ﬁgures in the Roman tradition. To these, and the other “hairy worthies,” Chrestus gives lip service in public, but when the right young fellow comes along, he gives another sort of “lip ser- 46 * c h a p t e r t w o vice” entirely—conduct hardly worthy of a vir bonus, much less of a man who loudly proclaims the virtues of Roman manhood.