Ancient China’s Political Culture in the Classics —On the Base of “Three Appeals” in Western Classical Rhetoric

Xin Li


“Zouyi” is a kind of official document written by court officials and submitted to the emperor in ancient China, which serves the purpose of persuading. Aristotle’s “three appeals”, which consist of ethos, pathos and logos, perform the rhetorical function of persuading. Based on this, some correlation between China’s classics and Western classic thought comes into view. This paper selects three representative Zouyi: “qian chu shi biao”, “zhi an ce” and “jian Tai Zong Shi si shu” and gives primary attention to analyzing the “three appeals” presented in the selected discourses. This analysis will gain a glimpse into the rich political and cultural codes hidden within ancient China’s memorials, the relationship between the emperor and his ministers/officials, and the deep patriotism of the ministers in ancient China.

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