An Overview of Common–place

Common–place is a prepared speech amplifying something that is acknowledged to be either a fault or a brave deed. Commonplaces are speeches prepared in a livelier style; it's emphatic topics include peace, justice or mercy, which CiceroOpens in new window advices that the speaker should make available for insertion when the argument or the emotional heat of a speech necessitates it.

Rhetors Views and Observations

Aphthonius in his definition, opines that the commonplace, is an oration arguing about the good or bad qualities in something. Read more here Opens in new window.

Lorichius, in his observation, offers that the goal of the commonplace is to amplify or increase virtue, where good people are concerned, or evil characteristics in the bad. By this means the speaker expects to rouse or stir up the emotions of pity or outrage in the hearers.

Basically, commonplace consists of a preface expressing the seriousness of the evil or the need for mercy, as appropriate. Aphthonius’s Progymnasmata contains prototypical instructions for the composition of commonplaces, which entails argument form contraries, exposition of the case, comparison, argument from a moral maxim, digression, moving or removing pity, argument from the lawful, the just, the useful and the possible, and a conclusion. Here in this sense, commonplace serves as an example of logically generated arguments being piled together to create an emotional effect.

Further Readings:
Cicero, De invention, 11.15.48;
Aphthonius, Progymnasmata, sig. M8v;
Erasmus, De conscribendis epistolis, pp. 343–47 (Trans. Collected Works, xxv, pp. 90–3).