Figure Name interrogatio
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Ad Herennium 4.15.22; Melanch. IR c7v ("interrogatio" "erotema"); Peacham (1577) L3r; Ad Herennium 284; Garrett Epp (1994) ("interrogatio," "erotema"); Peacham 1593; Vinsauf (1967) ("interrogatio"); Hart (1874) ("interrogation") 165-166; Bain (1867) 59 ("interrogation"); De Mille (1882) ("interrogation"); Jamieson (1844) ("interrogation") 186; Blount (1653) 27; Raub (1888) 217 ("interrogation")
Earliest Source
Synonyms erotema, rogatio
Etymology L. “question, cross-examination”
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Primarily, interrogatio is simply the Latin term for erotema (the rhetorical question). In the Ad Herennium, however, interrogatio is described as employing a question as a way of confirming or reinforcing the argument one has just made. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Interrogation is, which, when the points
against the adversaries' cause have been summed up, reinforces the argument that has just been delivered. (Ad Herennium)

3. The 'rhetorical question'. (Garrett Epp)

4. Interrogatio, a demaunding or asking, of which there be two kindes, the one simple and plaine, which is, when we aske with desire to receive an answere: as did the mariner of Ionas: Tell us (say they) of whose cause are we thus troubled? what is thine occupation? and whence commest thou? what countrieman art thou? and of what nation? And as ye wise men did, saying: Where is he that is borne king of ye Jewes? The other kind of interrogation is figurative, and it is when we aske not with intent or desire to receive an answere, but onely because we would thereby make our speech more sharpe and vehement, and much better further our purpose: and this forme of speaking may serve very wel and aptly to expresse any affection, as may appeare in these examples following. (Peacham)

5. If a mode of expression both easy and adorned is desired, set aside all the techniques of the dignified style and recourse to means that are simple, but of a simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness. Here are the rhetorical colours with which to adorn your style: (Vinsauf)

6. By interrogation, then, as a rhetorical figure, is meant putting our opinions in the form of questions for the purpose thereby of expressing our views more positively and vehemently. (Hart)

7. "aims at conveying an opinion more strongly by giving it the form of a question." (Bain)

Interrogation, like exclamation, may be used both with emotion and without it. On the one hand it may express the most intense passion; on the other it may, be used merely to vary the form of statement, and give animation to style. Interrogation forms a sudden and abrupt change to ordinary statement, and passages are introduced in this way in order that they may be presented with greater emphasis; for the flow of the narrative is thrown out of its course, and the mind, which may be growing wearied, suddenly receives some new stimulus.
Two kinds of interrogation are frequently noticed:
1. Where an answer is expected.
2. Where no answer is expected. This is called the question of appeal, and is merely a statement thrown into the interrogative form. Of the two, the latter is far more commonly used for rhetorical purposes. (De Mille)

9. "The unfigured and literal use of interrogation is to ask a question; but when men are strongly moved, whatever they would affirm or deny, with great earnestness, they naturally put in the form of a question. The strongest confidence is thereby expressed of their own sentiment, by appealing to their hearers for the impossibility of the contrary. ...Interrogation gives life and spirit to discourse. …Interrogation may be used to rouse and awaken the hearers." (Jamieson)

10. "a warm proposition, yet is oftentimes doth better than a bare Affirmation, which were but too easie and life-less a speech" (Blount)

11. "Interrogation is an animated form of expression by which the speaker puts forth in the form of questions what he neither doubts nor expects to be answered." (Raub)


1. While, therefore, you were doing and saying and negotiating all of these things, were you not alienating the republic's allies? (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. "So when you were doing and saying
and managing all this, were you, or were you not, alienating and estranging from the republic the sentiments of our allies? And was it, or was it not, needful to employ some one to thwart these designs of yours and prevent their fulfillment?" (Ad Herennium)

3. Thou that didst bear the key of all my counsels,

That knew'st the very bottom of my soul,

That almost mightst have coined me into gold,

Wouldst thou have practiced on me for thy use? (H5 2.2 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

4. 1. Love: “How faire art thou? and how pleasant art thou O my love?” Come.6.5. Another example of David: “O how sweet are thy wordes unto my throat?” Psal.119. (Peacham)

4. Hatred: “Why wilt thou have pleasure in an harlot?” Prov.5. (Peacham)

4. Desire: How long tarriest thou Lord? (Peacham)

4. Anger: How long Catiline wilt thou abuse our patience? Another of our Saviour Christ: “O faithlesse & crooked generation how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?” Mat. 17. (Peacham)

4. Admiration, Virgil: What is it that the greedy hunger of gold doth not urge and compel mortal men to attempt? (Peacham)

4. Doubting: What shall I do, wither shal I go, to whome shal I flee for succour? (Peacham)

4. Wishing: Shal I not see him before I die? ye is, I would I might. (Peacham)

4. Sorrow or pittie: Why dyed not I in my birth? Why set they me upon their knees, and gave me sucke with their breastes? (Peacham)

4. Despaire, as Sinon in Virgil: Alsse 9saith he) what ground, what sea may me (now wretch) receive? What shall I do? (Peacham)

5. Where now is Paradise, and that joy of which you were lord? I ask you, most powerful of creatures, whence sprang your great crime? You sin by approving in spirit the deed of your wife, by tasting forbidden fruit, be defending your actions in speech. Approving, tasting, defending, do you not then merit your fall? (Vinsauf)

6. "Who goeth a warfare at any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?" (Hart)

6. "Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?" (Hart)

6. "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" (Hart)

6. " Who hath heard our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" (Hart)

7. "'Hath he said it, and shall he not do it?' affirms strongly that what is said will be done." (Bain)

8. "Who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely?" -SHAKESPEARE. (De Mille)

8. "Who would lose this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity?" -MILTON. (De Mille)

9. "Thus Balaam expressed himself to Balak. 'The Lord is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent. Hath he said it? And shall he not do it? Hath he spoken it? And shall he not make it good?'" (Jamieson)

10. "the credit of behaviour, is to cover imperfection, and set forth your good parts better" (Blount)

11. "Can storied urn or animated bust / Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? / Can Honor's voice provoke the silent dust, / Or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death?" (Raub)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures figures of consultation
Notes From Hart: We often ask a question, not for the purpose of getting an answer, or of receiving information, but as a means of expressing our own opinion more strongly. It is as much as to say, there is but one possible answer to this question.
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Mark Carter
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes Perhaps Epp, Hart and therefore De Mille's definition actually belongs under erotema? -samp
Reviewed No