Figure Name parrhesia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Garrett Epp (1994) ("licentia," "parrhesia"); Ad Herennium 4.36-37.48-50 ("licentia"): Quintilian 9.2.27; Isidore 2.21.31; Peacham (1577) M2v; Putt. (1589) 234 ("parisia," "the licentious"); Day 1599 90 ("parresia"); JG Smith (1665) ("parrhesia"); Peacham 1593; Vinsauf (1967) ("licentia"); Bullinger (1898) ("eleutheria; or, candour"); Norwood (1742) ("parrhesia")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms parresia, parisia, eleutheria, licentia, parrhesy, the licentious, candour
Etymology from Gk. para, "beyond" and resis, "speech"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Either to speak candidly or to ask forgiveness for so speaking. Sometimes considered a vice. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Frankness of speech, before those to whom one owes reverence, because we feel justified in pointing out some fault. (Garrett Epp)

3. Liberty or boldnesse of speaking: a figure when we speak freely and boldly concerning things displeasing, &c.; PARRHESIA, Licentia, loquendi libertas & audacia, liberty or boldnesse of speaking: derived from [pan] and [rhesis] license, or liberty. A figure when we speak freely and boldly concerning things displeasing and obnoxious to envy, especially when fear seemed to hinder it; or, When in any case we shew our confidence for the present, our fearfulnesse for the future, or our ability to confute a false accusation; or, as other say, It is either when we boldly acknowledge and defend a fault not proved against us, or when we venturously and confidently upbraid and rebuke others for their faults; In which form of speech, it being to Superiors, such an asswaging may elegantly be used. (JG Smith)

4. Parrhesia, is a forme of speech by which the Orator speaking before those whom he feareth, or ought to reverence, & having somewhat to say that may either touch themselves, or those whom they favour, preventeth the displeasure and offence that might be taken, as by craving pardon afore hand, and by shewing the necessitie of free speech in that behalfe, or by some other like forme of humble submission and modest insinuation. (Peacham)

5. Figures of thought: There are other figures to adorn the meaning of the words. All of these I include in the following brief statement: when meaning is adorned, this is the standard procedure. ... ((2) licentia) At times, licentia, fairly and lawfully, chides masters or friends, offending no one with its words. (Vinsauf)

6. An Expression of Feeling by way of bold Features of Speech in Reprehension... The figure is so called, because the speaker or writer, without intending offence, speaks with perfect freedom and boldness. (Bullinger, 907)

7. PARRHESIA. Parrehesia, derived from the Greek, (pan) and resis. This Figure takes the courage and liberty to speak freely our sense of things which are displeasing to us; but we then must use this sort of Figure extremely nice in our reprehension of superiours; only in cafes of the greatest extremity, and when our duty obligeth us to such a freedom. (Norwood, 107)


1. Jesus used parrhesia in response to the Pharisees:
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, "Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee." And he said unto them, "Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." —Luke 13:31-32 (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Kill the physician, and thy fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
I'll tell thee thou dost evil. (Lear 1.1 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

3. You may suppose me proud and inconstant, but my sincerity shall out-dare all their calumnies. (JG Smith)

4. An example of Cicero: I speake with great peril, I feare judges after what sort you may take my words, but for my continuall desire that I have to maintaine and augment you dignitie, I pray and beseech you, that if my speech be either bitter or incredible unto you at the first hearing, yet that you would accept it without offence spoken of Marcus Cicero: Neither that you will reject it before I have plainlie declared the whole unto you. (Peacham)

5. ((2) licentia) But very many go astray, and that straying judges you, holy Father. You spare, and do not punish, those who seek shameful gain. They buy and sell what is illicit, with no one to avenge their guilt. (Vinsauf)

6. John 8:44. -"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him," etc. (Bullinger, 908)

7. Gal. 1. 10. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of God. Where he freely tells them, that it was a different thing to please God, and men; and consequently insinuates, that their ways were disagreeable to God's commands. And in Gal. 3. 1. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth? Was not this a very harsh expression, to call their prudence so much into question; and again, who hath bewitched you? (Norwood, 107-108)

Kind Of Identity
Part Of Ethos
Related Figures perissologia, figures of permission
Notes Is 'type of' applicable here?? I suggest "Identity" since the defs. suggest that this is speech from a subordinate to a dominant. - Nike
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes perissologia should be included in figures. -ark I changed "Part of" to Ethos. - Nike
Reviewed No