Strategic Maneuvering: Maintaining a Delicate Balance

  • Frans H. van EemerenEmail author
  • Peter Houtlosser
Part of the Argumentation Library book series (ARGA, volume 27)


“Quirites!” This is the infamous one-word speech by which Julius Caesar won his rebellious legions over to fight the republican army in North Africa, in 46 BC. After having fought a great number of battles under Caesar’s command, the soldiers had refused to follow him again. Caesar’s use of the word quirites as form of address had a devastating effect. According to the classical scholar (Leeman in Argumentation illuminated. Sic Sat, Amsterdam, pp. 12–22, 1992), ‘quirites’ was the dignified word a Roman magistrate used to address an assembly. Caesar’s use of this word to his soldiers made it clear to them that they had not only lost their privilege of being addressed as commilitones, or ‘comrades,’ but were even no longer entitled to a Roman general’s normal form of address for his soldiers: milites. “We are milites!” they reportedly shouted when they all volunteered to follow Caesar once more into battle. Ceasar’s use of the ‘neutral’ quirites as a qualification is an excellent illustration of how the communicative and interactional meaning of argumentative language use can only be grasped if the discourse is first put in a functional perspective in which its social context and the commitments assumed by the participants are duly taken into account.


Resolution Process Argumentative Discourse Strategic Maneuvering Presentational Device Argumentative Move 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities, Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and RhetoricUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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