Monday Metaphor: Anacoenosis: Don’t you see it my way?

There are times when a speaker or writer speaks directly to his audience when it is implied that there is a common interest. He appeals to the audience for documentation or approval. He may be asking his audience or opponents for their opinion or answer to the point in question. There are cases when the speaker or writer needs either feedback from his audience or needs to persuade them to his way of thinking.

The rhetorical device he uses is anacoenosis (an-uh-si-noh-sis). Brutus uses it when he attempts to persuade the Roman mob that he killed Caesar for the good of Rome.

“Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause, and be silent, that you may hear: believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge.

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say, that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare,  Act III Scene II

Here are some general examples of anacoenosis.

Do you not think we can do this now?

Now tell me, given the evidence before us, could you have decided any differently?

What do you think? Are we a bit weary? Shall we stay here for a while?

In most cases, a reply is not expected to the rhetorical question. Rather than coming outright and telling people what to think, these anacoenoses  are delivered with a softening effect.

Often times, the speaker wants to endear himself to the listener, as in this example.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” says the persona of Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet

My granddaughter, Jessica, and her turtle Mudd

Anacoenosis is used in the BIBLE.

The Book of the Prophet Isaiah:  “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”

And The Prophet Micah:  “O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened: are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” Micah: 2:7


“Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord God be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.”   Micah: 1: 2.

This was posted by: E-Shark47 SharkNotes on Deviant Art:

I often wondered why certain people think they are superior
For something so materialistic
As one’s own possessions.
However, have you ever run into the ones
With superiority complexes the size of Miami
For one reason: ideology.
How did it feel when they degraded you for not sharing their beliefs
Or lack thereof?
How did it feel to be ostracized and degraded before your very eyes
And feel so inferior?
Care to tell me of the experience?

In modern literature, we can consider the Ancient Mariner’s speech, when he button-holes the Wedding Guest, to be anacoenosis.

It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,

Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,

And I am next of kin;

The guests are met, the feast is set:

May’st hear the merry din.’

He hold him with his skinny hand,

‘There was a ship,’ quoth he.

‘Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!’

Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—

The Wedding-Guest stood still,

And listens like a three years’ child:

The Mariner hath his will.

I used anacoenosis when I wrote my article “Earth Day—The Giving Holiday,” for April 2009 issue of Stories for Children. I wanted to inform children about Earth Day and persuade them to celebrate a holiday in which they experienced giving instead of receiving.

Earth Day—The Giving Holiday

By: Barbara Bockman

Are you ready for a holiday when you give your gifts to Mother Earth?

Mother Earth has been a little sick lately and needs all the help we can give her.

But the Earth is so big, you say. What can I do?

It’s true you are only one person. However, on Earth Day everyone has one thing on their minds—what can we do for the Earth?


There are other ways in which writers speak to their audiences, with other purposes, such as the invocation to the Muse, asides and apostrophes. We’ll get to them another Monday.

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