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Inter Se Pugnantia

Updated Mar 7, 2023

The Rhetorical Device of Inter se pugnantia: Creating Tension through Internal Conflict


In the world of persuasive language, rhetorical devices play a crucial role in capturing the attention of the audience and conveying a message effectively. One such device, inter se pugnantia, allows speakers to create tension and emphasize contrasting ideas within their arguments. In this article, we will explore the meaning of inter se pugnantia and provide accurate examples of its usage to better understand its impact on rhetoric.

Understanding Inter se pugnantia

Inter se pugnantia, a Latin phrase, translates to "internal conflict" or "mutual contradiction." This rhetorical device involves deliberately presenting conflicting ideas or concepts within a piece of communication to highlight their inherent tension. By juxtaposing contradictory elements, speakers can evoke a sense of tension in the audience, compelling them to engage with the argument more critically.

Examples of Inter se pugnantia in Rhetoric

  1. Political Speeches: Politicians often employ inter se pugnantia to emphasize the contrast between their opponents' views and their own. For instance, a candidate might argue that their opponent's stance on a particular issue is both "reckless and naive." By using contradictory adjectives, they highlight the inherent conflict between these characteristics, portraying their own position as more reasonable and well-considered.

  2. Literary Works: Authors frequently utilize inter se pugnantia to deepen the complexity of their characters or themes. In Shakespeare's play Macbeth, Lady Macbeth utters the famous lines, "Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it." This phrase exemplifies inter se pugnantia by contrasting the delicate and harmless imagery of a flower with the secretive and treacherous nature of a serpent. This contradiction accentuates Lady Macbeth's duplicitous personality and the overall theme of deception within the play.

  3. Advertising: Advertisements often employ inter se pugnantia to create an emotional response in consumers. One memorable example is the slogan used by a popular car manufacturer: "Power and Efficiency, Unite!" This phrase combines contradictory concepts of power and efficiency, creating a sense of tension and intrigue for potential buyers. By showcasing the harmony of these opposing qualities, the ad suggests that their product offers the best of both worlds.

The Impact of Inter se pugnantia on Rhetoric

The deliberate use of inter se pugnantia in rhetoric serves several important purposes. Firstly, it captures the audience's attention by introducing conflicting ideas, which sparks curiosity and stimulates critical thinking. Secondly, this rhetorical device creates a sense of tension and drama, making the argument more memorable and engaging. Lastly, inter se pugnantia can effectively highlight the strengths of one side of an argument by contrasting it with the weaknesses of the opposing view.

In conclusion, inter se pugnantia is a powerful rhetorical device that allows speakers and writers to emphasize contrasting ideas by highlighting their inherent tension. By employing this strategy effectively, politicians, authors, and advertisers can captivate their audience, deepen the complexity of their messages, and ultimately persuade with greater impact. So, the next time you encounter such a contradiction, remember that inter se pugnantia is at play, inviting you to explore the conflicts within!

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