On the Independence Day holiday, before the advent of radio and television, folks would gather in the public square and be entertained by patriotic speeches. In that spirit, we follow our Independence Day theme by presenting various types of speeches and orations.
An angry, bitter speech can be called a tirade, a rant, a harangue (negative concepts do seem to develop multiple synonyms!), or a philippic.
philippic – a bitter verbal denunciation, scathing and insulting
An eponym: from the name the Greek’s gave to Demosthenes’ speeches against Philip II of Macedon, 351-341 B.C. The Romans adopted the term for Cicero’s speeches against Marc Antony, 44-43 B.C.
– The Independent, Dec. 11, 2005, re Harold Pinter’s acceptance of the Nobel Prize
This latest philippic from Noam Chomsky sets out to overturn every belief about their country Americans hold dear. The self-image of the United States as a beacon of freedom and democracy, lighting the way for the rest of the world, is a lie, Chomsky says, and … aims to expose the rot of the shining city on a hill, from its foundations to its steeples.
– New York Times, June 25, 2006 (book review)
Philippic takes its name from the target of the speaker.
Interesting contrast to the word "jeremiad," which refers to original lamenter himself, the prophet Jeremiah.
soapbox – verb; informal: to make an impromptu or unofficial public speech, often flamboyantly (noun: a temporary platform used while making that speech)
But most often used in the idiom on (one's) soapbox – speaking one's views passionately or self-importantly.
– Sophie Uliano, Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life
I must say, I can't ever remember seeing or hearing to soapbox used as a verb.
Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
jeremiad – a speech expressing a bitter lament or a righteous prophecy of doom
panegyric – an oration or eulogy in praise of some person or achievement
A long but thought-provoking Independence-Day quote contrasts two different types of orations.
. . .Barnes & Noble [has] so many books announcing the end of American power, wealth, influence, or just America itself. Patrick Buchanan told me "we are on a path to national suicide." Then Chalmers Johnson said that the "extinction that befell our former fellow 'superpower,' the Soviet Union . . . is probably by now unavoidable." And Naomi Wolf[‘s book:] "The End of America". I dare you – I double-dare you! – to find a recent book on America's future that does not predict a coming collapse. The causes are endless.
. . .As a historian, I find this trend fascinating. After all, none have ever lived in a period more prosperous, secure and stable than Americans do today. The U.S. is the wealthiest and most powerful country in all of history. There's never been a better time and place to be alive than America in the 21st century.
. . .So why all the decline theorists?
. . .Here's my theory: Prosperity and security are boring. Nobody wants to read about them. The same phenomenon occurred in ancient Rome, the last state to acquire such a firm hegemony. By the second century B.C., Roman citizens were affluent and their empire no longer had any serious rivals. With the dangers past and the money rolling in, they developed a taste for jeremiads. If you had a stylus, ink and scroll you could hardly go broke telling the Romans their empire, culture and way of life were yesterday's news. Polybius blamed pandering politicians, who would transform the noble Republic into mob rule. Sallust claimed political parties had "torn the Republic asunder." Livy wrote [of] "the decay of the national character until we can bear neither our diseases nor their remedies."
. . .The Romans may have been unquestioned masters of their world, but they sure didn't like reading about it. And when the empire actually did start its decline in the third century A.D., criticisms and predictions of collapse became noticeably thinner on the ground.
. . .The military dictators who led the empire on its downward spiral did not much like reading about their own shortcomings, and they had ways of making sure that they didn't have to. These were the days of the panegyric – an obsequious form of literature that praised the emperor and empire to the skies. When you start seeing those, it's time to worry.
– Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2008 [ellipses omitted]
epilogue – a speech at the end of a play, addressed to the audience [also: a short addition at the end of a book, often dealing with the future of its characters]
Shakespeare, speaking (inconsistently?) on epilogues:
– Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
[Rosalind speaks:] … 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue; yet … good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues.
– Shakespeare, As You Like It
As political arguments have been barred from this site, I will refrain from pointing out some of the flaws in this statement.
A recent New York Times Supplement double crostic has this clue, for an 8 letter word:
Praise delivered oratorically.
I discarded my first thought, encomium, because I didn't necessarily associate the word with oratory.
But it was the word needed.
What say you? Can an encomium be in writing? Or did they perhaps mean that even writings can be oratorical, even though not oral?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Valentine,
If you wish to comment,Richard, you could always address your remarks directly to the Wall Street Journal.
Incidentally, in rhetoric, saying something by saying that you are not going to say it, is called apophasis.
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
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I didn't necessarily associate the word with oratory.
It's funny, but I only associate the word with writing, because the first time I encountered it was in Erasmus' punning title Encomium Morae (In Praise of Folly / [Thomas] More). The problem probably lies with how one defines rhetoric. Though rhetoric derives from a root meaning 'to speak' (PIE *wer-, whence also word and verb, link), it is now applied equally to speaking and writing effectively and persuasively.
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.
homily – 1. a talk on a religious subject, meant to be inspirational rather than giving doctrinal instruction
2. a tedious moralizing talk
Two very different senses, though you can see how one led to the other. Question: when the word is used in the second sense (as in the second quote), is it fair to say that it carries a connotation of being trite, of speaking in clichés?
– Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret?
From General Peckem’s office on the mainland came prolix bulletins each day headed by such cheery homilies as "Procrastination Is the Thief of Time” and “Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness.”
– Joseph Heller, Catch-22
declamation – 1. vehement oratory 2. a speech marked by strong feeling; a tirade
[The verb form is to declaim.]
We illustrate by quoting from a Pulitzer-Prize-winning book about the beginnings of the American Revolution.
– David McCullough, 1776
– Anthony Lewis, Gideon's Trumpet
soliloquy – a speech of one’s thoughts when alone, or regardless of hearers, especially in a play
[Latin solus alone + loqui speak]