too many words by laura lemay

the things you find while wandering through wikipedia

Pyrogymasmata, verb, the practice of setting fire to the balance bar.

No, no, alas, I misread it and the word is actually Progymnasmata. Wikipedia says:

Progymnasmata (Greek “fore-exercises”, Latin praeexercitamina) are rhetorical exercises gradually leading the student to familiarity with the elements of rhetoric, in preparation for their own practice speeches (gymnasmata, “exercises”) and ultimately their own orations.

The traditional course of rhetoric gave the progymnasmata in this order:

  1. Fable
  2. Narrative
  3. Chreia
  4. Proverb
  5. Refutation
  6. Confirmation
  7. Commonplace
  8. Encomium
  9. Vituperation
  10. Comparison
  11. Impersonation
  12. Description
  13. Thesis
  14. Defend or attack a law

Hm. I think I’ve made it up to anecdote (chreia) but not sure I’m so great at proverb or refutation (shouting “You’re WRONG” repeatedly doesn’t really count as refutation, does it). Yet another example of my ongoing failures as an english major. Flunked progynmasmata, became a technical writer. Ah well.