Figure Name erotesis
Source E.W. Bullinger (1898)("erotesis"); R. Sherry (1550, 1555) ("erotesis/interrogacio"); W. Taylor (1972) ("erotesis"); JG Smith (1665) ("erotesis"); Gibbons (1767) 176 ("erotesis"); Holmes (1806) ("erotesis"); Hill (1883) ("interrogation"); Waddy (1889); Bullinger (1898) ("erotesis; or, interrogating"); Johnson (1903) ("erotesis or interrogation"); Norwood (1742) ("erotesis")
Earliest Source
Synonyms interrogation, interrogating, peusis, pysma, percontatio, interrogatio, erotema
Etymology mod.L., a. Gr. {elenis}{rho}{gwacu}{tau}{eta}{sigma}{iota}{fsigma}, f. {elenis}{rho}{omega}{tau}{gaacu}{epsilon}{iota}{nu} to question.
Type Chroma
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. 1845 J. W. GIBBS Philol. Stud. (1857) 206 a figure of speech by which a speaker, in the form of an interrogation, boldly asserts the opposite of what is asked; as ‘Creditis avectos hostes?’ (OED)

2. Interrogation: a figure whereby we either demand a question, earnestly affirm, or vehemently deny a thing.; Erotesis, Interrogatio, Interrogation, or questioning, derived from [erotao] interrogo, to question. It is but a warm proposition; yet it oftentimes doth better than a bare affirmation, (Note '*' in marg: This form of speech Solomon in Prov. 14.2 . uses h affirmation Do they not erre that...) which were but too easie and livelesse a speech; it is easie and gentile to sharpen the flats of affirmation and down-right relations: A figure whereby we either (1) demand a question, (2) earnestly affirm; or (3) vehemently deny a thing. Note that an affirmative Interrogation is a vehement denying; and a negative, a vehement affirming: and a negative interrogation sometimes vehemently commands, and an affirmative interrogation in like manner forbids. (JG Smith)

3. "a Figure by which we express the emotion of our minds, and infuse an ardor and energy into our discourses, by proposing qestions." (Gibbons)

4. By Erotesis, what we know we ask, Prescribing to ourselves a needless talk. (Holmes)

5. 2. Interrogation.
An interrogation may be part of plain speech. It becomes figurative when it is an affirmation in the form of a question. Thus, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" is meant to be an emphatic affirmation that He will do right. The reason of the emphasis in the interrogative form is obvious. It has been shown that the differences are more evident when contraries are brought into once conception. The interrogation forces upon the attention at once both an affirmative and a negative answer. Thus the affirmative and negative answers are brought into contrast, and the 'affirmative is admitted from the impossibility of the negative'. (Hill)

6. The natural, or primary, use of interrogation is to ask a question; but when declarative sentences are expressed in the interrogative form, no answer is expected; the interrogative form is used merely to make the statement more emphatic and convincing than the declarative form could make it.
When using interrogation as a means of emphasis, we should observe two things:
(1) A negative interrogation affirms. Thus, "Do we not bear the image of our Maker?" is but a forcible way of saying, "We bear the image of our Maker."
(2) An affirmative interrogation denies. Thus: "Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?" Here the effect is to deny or to give a negative answer to the question. (Waddy)

7. The Asking of Question without waiting for the Answer... This figure is used when a speaker or writer asks animated questions, but not to obtain information. Instead of making a plain and direct statement, he suddenly changes his style, and puts what he was about to say or could otherwise have said, into the form of a question, without waiting for answer. Instead of declaring a conviction, or expressing indignation, or vindicating authority, he puts it in the form of a question without expecting any reply. The figure is so important that not only is it of frequent occurrence, but it has several other names. (Bullinger, 914)

8. Erote'sis or Interrogation.—This figure may be defined as the asking of a question that answers itself. (Johnson, 99)

9. EROTESIS. Erotesis, from the Greek, (erota) interrogo. This Figure is of excellent use, and carries in it more force and vehemence; for bare affirmations have no life nor spirit in them, and are less powerful to influence our sense and reason. (Norwood, 110)


2. The credit of behaviour, is to cover imperfection, and set forth your good parts better: now for that, this is too flat and lively a speech, aptly to expresse the affection of the mind; expresse it by Interrogation thus;

Is it not the chiefest credit of behaviour to set forth your good parts fairly and clearly, and to cover imperfection?

Did the Sun ever bring fruitful Harvest, but was more hot than pleasant? Have you any fathers that be not sometimes froward? Have you any of your children that be not sometimes cumbersome? Shall we therefore curse the Sun? disobey our fathers? and hate our children? (JG Smith)

3. "How does Cicero, as it were, press and bear down his adversary by the force of Interrogations, when pleading for Plancius, he thus addresses himself to his accuser? 'Choose you any one tribe, and inform us, as you ought, by what agent it was bribed? ...Is this a fair contest? Will you engage on this footing? ...Why are you silent? Why do you dissemble? Why do you prevaricate?'" (Gibbons)

4. Was ever virtue put to harder tasks? (Holmes)

7. "Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" (Gen. 17:17), in wonder at the Divine power. See Rom. 4:17-21. Abraham laughed for joy, for he fell upon his face in reverence (John 8:56. Gen. 21:8). Sarah laughed from incredulity (18:12). Contrast Martha and Mary in John 11:21 and 32. Mary "fell down at his feet." (Bullinger, 922)

8. An ordinary question, asked for the purpose of eliciting information, is not a figure of speech; but when Patrick Henry, in his famous oration, exclaimed: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery ?" his language was highly figurative. (Johnson, 99)

9. Gen. 4. 7. If thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted? That is, I will most certainly receive thee, and thy sacrifice. (Norwood, 108)

9. Mark 12. 24. Do you not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? Where the question being expressed with the sign of negation, gives still the stronger force and emphasis to his discourse; and is as much as to say, you are extremely mistaken. (Norwood, 108)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures Figures of Argumentation, Interrogation
Notes This is not a main entry on Silva Rhetoricae. I got the sources from that site as well as OED. - Nike Added synonym from Gibbons, "interrogation"
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No