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Updated Jan 28, 2023

The Power of Apodioxis: An Insight into the Rhetorical Device


In the realm of rhetoric, speakers and writers often employ various devices to influence and captivate their audience. One such powerful tool is apodioxis, a rhetorical device that serves to emphasize the speaker's or writer's authority and dismiss opposing arguments. In this article, we will explore the concept of apodioxis, understand its purpose, and examine some noteworthy examples of its usage.

Understanding Apodioxis

Apodioxis, derived from the Greek word "apodióxis" meaning "rejection," is a rhetorical device employed to reject or dismiss an opposing argument. This technique allows speakers or writers to assert their authority and refute opposing viewpoints confidently. By using apodioxis, they aim to persuade their audience by presenting their own argument as the only logical and valid option.

Examples of Apodioxis in Literature and Speeches

Example 1: Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech

In his iconic speech "I Have a Dream," Martin Luther King Jr. employs apodioxis to dismiss the notion that African Americans should continue enduring racial injustice. He states:

"Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. We must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."

By rejecting the idea of responding with bitterness and hatred, King emphasizes the importance of pursuing racial justice through peaceful means. His use of apodioxis strengthens his argument and inspires his audience to embrace nonviolent resistance.

Example 2: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar," Mark Antony uses apodioxis during his funeral oration for Caesar to dismiss the conspirators' justification for the assassination. He declares:

"But Brutus says he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man."

Through this ironic repetition, Antony subtly undermines the conspirators' claim that Caesar's ambition warranted his death. By repeatedly stating that Brutus is honorable, Antony sarcastically suggests that the opposite may be true. This use of apodioxis allows Antony to discredit the conspirators' argument and sway the crowd in his favor.

The Impact of Apodioxis on Persuasion

Apodioxis plays a vital role in persuasive communication by strengthening arguments and dismissing opposing viewpoints. By employing this rhetorical device, speakers and writers can establish their authority, assert the superiority of their ideas, and effectively persuade their audience to adopt their perspective. However, it is important to use apodioxis judiciously, as excessive dismissal may lead to a lack of credibility or alienation of the audience.


Apodioxis, the rhetorical device of dismissing or rejecting opposing arguments, empowers speakers and writers to assert their authority and persuade their audience effectively. Through examples like Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful speech and Mark Antony's cunning oration, we can witness the impact of apodioxis in various contexts. By understanding and utilizing this device, individuals can enhance their ability to communicate persuasively and make a lasting impact on their audience.

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