Diathesis

An Introduction to Diathesis

Diathesis (the wider term for “pathosOpens in new window”, with its lexicalOpens in new window definitions of “arrangement,” “disposition,” “means of disposing”), is a rhetorical term for the practice of arranging the parts of the discourse according to the most suitable means that will convey one’s ideas intelligibly and perspicuously to the audience.

To quote Rachel Ahern KnudsenOpens in new window verbatim, “AristotleOpens in new window clearly intends diathesis to include any strategy that is calculated to create sympathyOpens in new window in the listener, whether by appealing to emotionsOpens in new window or by knowing the particular listener and adapting one’s argumentative strategyOpens in new window according to what will best effect his acquiescenceOpens in new window. The term diathesis conveys this broader notion of sensitivity to audience psychologyOpens in new window, I believe, more accurately than does the term pathosOpens in new window.” — (Rachel Ahern Knudsen, Homeric Speech and the Origins of Rhetoric)

Further Readings:
Rachel Ahern Knudsen | Homeric Speech and the Origins of RhetoricOpens in new window