An Introduction to Exuscitatio

Exuscitatio (etymologically from Greek “suscitare,” literally means “to raise,” “rouse,” or “awaken”), is a figure of speech Opens in new window which consists when the speaker being overwhelmed with some vehement feeling makes an emotional utterance in a forceful way as to rouse the audience to experience the same feeling.

This figure is most aptly employed by the tactics of using rhetorical questionsOpens in new window to inflame the audience's passions.

Also used mostly by means of approving, and justifying something with praise or disapprovingly accuse, and reprehend something.

Classic Examples
    As earlier mentioned, exuscitatio is chiefly used when persons or matters do require either great praises, or dispraises. In praises, it is used in this vein:
  • What man is he? be he never so envious, never so malicious, never so ambitious of honour, but must needs commend this man, and acknowledge him to be most virtuous, most learned, most wise, who for the safeguard of his country, the defence of his city, and the riches of the common wealth, did most willingly put and yield himself to great and cruel dangers, whose learning was proved in defending, whose wisdome was wondered at, in accomplishing so dangerous an enterprise.
    However, when in dispraises, it is used in this vein:
  • “Doth it not abhor you to hear and understand of a rabble of so great and unaccustomed lewdness, a man every way so vile, to go thus freely unpunished? Surely I do think no honest mind but would be of this opinion, that of all creatures living he were most worthy to be extirpated.” — (Day, p. 389)
  • Who is of so careless a mind, that seeing these things can hold his peace and let them pass? you put my father to death before he was condemned, and being so put to death, you registered him among condemned men, you thrust me out of my own house by violence, you possessed my patrimony, what will you more? came you not to the seat of judgement as you do now, to put to death or at least to condemne Sextus Roscius?
Further Readings:
Silver Rhetoricae, Figures | ExuscitatioOpens in new window
Henry Peachum, The Garden of Eloquence | ExuscitatioOpens in new window
Peacham (1577) U1r; Day (1599 p. 99)