Abstract: This article describes the paradeigrrm / exemplum from a historical point of view, as it is treated in (primarily Greek) rhetorical theories from Aristotle up to the sixth century AD. The description focuses on four main features of the paradigm: its functions (argument or ornament), the modes of reasoning implied in its use (analogical or inductive), its subject matter, and its literary form. The elassifieation of these aspeets is meant to serve as a hermeneutic model for the rhetorical analysis of the use of exempla in late antique and Byzantine authors or texts. Although the contribution of this paper is largely theoretical and methodological, it also offers some guiding questions for such an analysis and suggests how this analysis can be complemented by a semantic approach to the exempla: the questions of how they function and what they mean are inextricably linked.

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