An Introduction to Concessio

Concessio is a figure which prevails when we concede to the adversary, things which are unjust, false, even inept or dubious things as though they were just, and sincerely so.

With this trope, we bring ourselves subject to the opinions, and devices of the adversary, even when we have superior wisdom in the case in question; we nevertheless, still concede upon those things which by right we could have denied.

Notable Formulae of the Concessio — The rhetorical device usually takes place by means of these formulae:

Practical Examples — Some concessio are serious, others ironic. An example of a serious concessio is found in Cicero’sOpens in new window Pro Roscio AmerinoOpens in new window, as:

  • “Very well; you can not bring forward any motive. Although it ought to be considered at once that I have won my case, I will not insist upon my right, and will make a concession to you in this case, which I would not make in any other, so convinced am I of my client’s innocence. I do not ask you to say why Sextus Roscius killed his father, I ask you how he killed him.”

Likewise, in his Pro Murena, Cicero says:

  • “But granted that all these things are really equal, that activity in civil life (forensic opera) equals military service (militaris opera), that the votes of the soldiers equal those of the civilians, granted that it be the same thing to have given most elaborate games and none whatsoever, what then? In the office of praetor itself do you imagine there was no difference between his lot (sors) and yours?”
Further Readings:
Silver Rhetoricae: ConcessioOpens in new window
Giambattista Vico | The Art of Rhetoric: (Institutiones Oratoriae, 1711-1741): Epitrope or ConcessioOpens in new window
Quentin Skinner | Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes ConcessioOpens in new window