Although much has been written about ancient rhetorical theories of example, few scholars have examined the subtypes of example contained in these ancient rhetorical theories. As a corrective to this scholarly blind spot, this article explores the lesser-known conceptual history of “comparison,” which Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian all theorize as a subtype of example. Taken together, their rhetorical theories suggest that arguments by comparison are hypothetical, contentious, indirect, interrogative, and frequently deceptive. Moreover, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian all theorize comparison by calling attention to the persuasive artistry of Socrates, notably his use of arguments by comparison to provoke interlocutors without challenging them directly. Understanding and explaining these rhetorical theories of comparison is the primary task of this article.

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