A lesson from the Parthenon

I was recently in Athens, Greece to speak at a conference. While there, I had one free day and, as it was my first time in Greece, there was one place I had to see: the Parthenon that sits atop the Acropolis.

If you every have the opportunity to visit the Parthenon, you must do so. The setting beautiful, with ancient ruins and stunning views of Athens. It also provides an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of Western Civilization.

Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens

As I stood before that architectural wonder, admiring the 69 pillars on which it was built, I couldn’t help thinking of Aristotle who said that a great speech is built on three pillars: logos, ethos and pathos:

Logos is persuasion by virtue of the logic of the presentation. Structure, facts, statistics, data, research and test results are examples of logos.

Ethos is persuasion by virtue of the credibility of the speaker. Elements of ethos include reputation, authority, expertise, trustworthiness and stage presence.

Pathos is persuasion by emotion. Examples of pathos are storytelling, surprise and humour.

Each of the pillars is important for a speech or presentation, and one pillar can have an effect on another. A scientist presenting a scientific topic to a scientific audience can lose credibility (ethos) if he only tells stories (pathos) and has no supporting data (logos).

The short video below captures my thoughts.


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
This entry was posted in History of Public Speaking, Rhetoric and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A lesson from the Parthenon

  1. Pingback: Lessons from Senegal - Part 1 - Manner of SpeakingManner of Speaking

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  3. Pingback: In the footsteps of Aristotle | Manner of Speaking

  4. Was there too. Incredible.

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