Paraphrase Tool


Updated May 9, 2023

The Rhetorical Device of Antisthecon: A Powerful Tool for Persuasion


In the realm of rhetoric, where the art of persuasive communication reigns supreme, one can find a plethora of techniques and devices employed by skilled orators and writers. One such device that stands out for its effectiveness in swaying opinions and challenging prevailing beliefs is the antisthecon. In this article, we will delve into the concept of antisthecon, explore its definition, and provide examples of how this rhetorical device can be used to great effect.

Understanding Antisthecon

Derived from the Greek words "anti" meaning against, and "sthecon" meaning established custom or belief, antisthecon is a rhetorical technique that involves deliberately opposing or challenging widely accepted ideas, customs, or societal norms. By presenting arguments in direct opposition to the prevailing viewpoint, the speaker or writer aims to create a sense of doubt, stimulate critical thinking, and ultimately persuade the audience to consider alternative perspectives.

Examples of Antisthecon in Action

  1. "Money is the root of all evil"

    The commonly accepted phrase "Money is the root of all evil" portrays wealth as inherently corrupting and immoral. However, an antisthecon approach could challenge this idea by stating: "Money is a tool that amplifies the values and intentions of its possessor. It can be used for both good and evil, depending on the hands it falls into."

    By countering the prevailing belief, the speaker forces the audience to reevaluate their assumptions and consider the potential positive aspects of wealth.

  2. "Violence begets violence"

    The adage "Violence begets violence" often serves as a reminder that responding to aggression with more aggression only perpetuates a cycle of violence. However, an antisthecon argument could propose an alternative viewpoint: "Sometimes, violence is the only means to bring about justice and protect the vulnerable. Standing idle in the face of oppression can also breed violence."

    This counterargument challenges the assumption that violence should always be condemned, urging the audience to question the circumstances in which violence may be justified.

The Impact of Antisthecon

The use of antisthecon as a rhetorical device can be a powerful tool in engaging audiences, stimulating critical thinking, and challenging deeply ingrained beliefs. By presenting alternative viewpoints and questioning established norms, antisthecon allows individuals to explore new perspectives, fostering a more well-rounded understanding of complex issues.

However, it is important to note that antisthecon should be employed responsibly and with consideration for the context and audience. While it can be an effective technique, it should not be used solely for the purpose of provocation or to promote harmful ideas.


In the art of persuasion, the use of rhetorical devices is essential in capturing and maintaining an audience's attention. The antisthecon, with its ability to challenge prevailing beliefs and stimulate critical thought, is a valuable tool for any skilled communicator. By presenting arguments in direct opposition to established customs or beliefs, the antisthecon can open doors to new ideas and foster a deeper understanding of complex issues. When used responsibly, the antisthecon has the potential to create profound shifts in perception and promote meaningful dialogue in society.


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