Some of the greatest speakers of all time were great because they could reach a particular audience. Some were good for their philosophy on individual subjects and their knowledge, wisdom and experience on others. Other individuals were known for their impeccable leadership abilities. The ones that are known to have a great ability to lead and present a decent speech have all had their philosophy and beliefs on how to lead the country that they are in charge of. Individuals that are put in a leadership position are, usually, have good speaking abilities. They can use these abilities to influence, manipulate, or even dominate other individuals in an evil or positive manner using just their words, mannerisms, and appearance.
One can all the way back to Aristotle and Quintilian where the art of oratory was broken down into three parts. The first part in Latin was "delibrativeto" and meant one needs to convince to the audience what an individual is presenting on certain matters. To break it down the speaker needs to show the audience that what he is talking about actually matters and could have an actual impact on their life. The second Part in Latin was "forensicto" and meant make the audience either agree or disagree on certain matters. This part is the actual part that could make or break an excellent speaker. If a speaker can only get people to disagree with what he is presenting, he will never be considered a great speaker. The speaker will also never be considered to be even a leader because he is unable to connect with the greater masses, and could be regarded as an idiot or a fool. The third part was the epideictic rhetoric part and was the part that was delivered for ceremonial purposes. The third part was mainly used in the days of renaissance for religious purposes. The higher offices within the church would use epideictic rhetoric display as an extremely useful tool. They would use it to preach to the common man that the church held supremacy over the king even though the king was thought to have been born of Gods right of birth.
One of the world's greatest speakers had the same thought process as one that would have been a king. His name is Adolf Hitler; many people would just think of him as a very horrendous man. If one took the time to listen or read his speeches or some of his propaganda, people would realize he was a genius with the way he gave speeches and the way he presented them. His words were well chosen and given with power, authority, and confidence. Hitler knew the importance of the use of great language and use of wording. Hitler stated, "All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach." Meaning the way something is written even has to be written to impress the least intelligent of the mass numbers you are trying to reach along with the higher intelligent individuals to gain the mass majority. In a way Hitler was almost like a poet within his speeches, Hitler knew how to get to the heart and the minds of the people with words and knew he could get a whole nation to follow him. On November 9, 1921, Hitler was in front of his men after a bloody battle where his men held off five hundred enemy soldiers. Hitler wanted to keep them going and keep them motivated, Hitler stated, “For us there are only two possibilities: either we remain German, or we come under the thumb of the Jews. This latter must not occur; even if we are small, we are a force. A well-organized group can conquer a strong enemy. If you stick close together and keep bringing in new people, we will be victorious over the Jews." Hitler used his ability to communicate with the mass numbers of the country he was leading. Though he did it for all the wrong reasons, there are others that are completely the opposite and have been able to do it for good reasons, and maintain civility.
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most civil, intelligent, and poetic speakers of all time. His "I have a dream speech" was iconic and was heard around the world and didn't just impact the people here in America. Martin Luther King Jr. was highly educated and very well spoken. He was able to influence individuals and to have them all agree with him because of the power he had behind his words, the meaning, and timing of his speeches was perfectly done. The audience King was speaking to all had realized that change needed to happen, and Martin Luther King Jr. was the man that could get them there and in a nonviolent and quick manner. Martin Luther King said, "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies." This statement was during a time when there was much hatred, discontent, and violence. Martin Luther King Jr. would not allow the rest of the ignorance in the world ruin his soul. Instead, he held his ground as a great leader and presented what they needed to do through his marvelous words. Being one of the most well-known protest speakers of all time Martin Luther King Jr. is in the top five speakers of all time. Martin Luther king Jr. inspired many people after he died, which has always been the way with great leaders and speakers.
Abraham Lincoln is known to be one of the greatest American president speakers of all time. But if you go back two thousand years to Athens Greece there was a man named Pericles. Pericles gave a funeral oration that had inspired Abraham Lincolns Gettysburg Address. Both Lincoln and Pericles were living lives as leaders during a time of civil war. Like Pericles, Lincoln focused on having the people that lived within their nations to live a lifestyle that made those that sacrificed everything during a time of war worthwhile. Pericles funeral oratory is one of the most famous funeral speeches of all time and dates back to 431 B.C., and help hold a nation together and maintain love and respect for the government and military. Pericles said the following words to a country trying to recover and continue,
So died these men as became Athenians. You, their survivors, must determine to have as unfaltering a resolution in the field, though you may pray that it may have a happier issue. And not contented with ideas derived only from words of the advantages which are bound up with the defense of your country, though these would furnish a valuable text to a speaker even before an audience so alive to them as the present, you must yourselves realize the power of Athens, and feed your eyes upon her from day to day, till love of her fills your hearts; and then, when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect that it was by courage, sense of duty, and a keen feeling of honor in action that men were enabled to win all this, and that no personal failure in an enterprise could make them consent to deprive their country of their valor, but they laid it at her feet as the most glorious contribution that they could offer.
Pericles speech was powerful, very respectful and still held influence two thousand years later. Abraham Lincoln took his inspiration from the famous speech and led another great nation through hardships and separation.
Abraham Lincoln didn't just bring a particular group together he was the first great American president speaker that brought together two completely different sides of the nation. In a time of war when brothers fought brothers, sisters hated sisters, fathers disowned sons, Abraham Lincoln wrote one of the most famous American speeches in American history. The Gettysburg Address was written to bring the south together with the north, to show all men should be able to stand side by side in any situation and not be judged by the color of their skin. He also had the same meaning behind his words as Pericles that no matter the outcome of war the people that had been left behind to pick up the pieces should not let those that died lay in vein, and should no matter what carry on the respect for the ones who had lost their lives protecting their nation.
Individuals wanting change have been voicing their opinion for as long as there been individuals on this beautiful planet. My most influential speaker, philosopher, anti-slave activist, man of nature, author, poet and many other amazing things his name was Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau lived 1817-1862 and has had an outstanding, profound, enduring influence on American thoughts, future, and letters. He was most well-known for living close to nature, and an equally famous event when he had spent the night in jail to protest an unjust institution and an unfair war. During the time known by Americans as the American Renaissance Thoreau made individuals conscientious of the integrity of social conformism, he was highly passionate and opposed the institutional degradation of human being and values. Stanley Cavell, another famous philosopher, wrote that Thoreau's lifelong achievement “is still, if one can imagine it, not fully recognized." Lawrence Buell, who is a literary scholar who attended Harvard in the 1960’s, predicted Thoreau will be "an even more luminous and inspirational figure in the 21st century than he has been in the twentieth." His best friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson was the greatest influence on Thoreau. Like almost all other great speakers of history, Thoreau was influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was a genius, highly influential, and much respected individual within the society to which they did most of their public speaking. As an early antislavery activist Thoreau was readily pushed into activism against injustice, even though he was highly individualistic. During the 1850s, he was known as an extremist and a risk-taker with the Underground Railroad. He was also highly outspoken as a defender of extremism to defeat pro-slavery forces that were laying right in the middle of a divided America during that time. One of Thoreau’s greatest quotes in my eyes comes from a week on the Concord and Merrimack River in 1849, Thoreau states, “The wisest man preaches no doctrines; he has no scheme; he sees no rafter, not even a cobweb, against the heavens. It is clear sky. If I ever see more clearly at one time than at another, the medium through which I see is clearer.” I honestly feel this quote just shows what kind of a person he was and how he probably lived his life.
I wish more people could be calmer and more docile like Thoreau and let go of what hatred a man could hold and realize what he has done for all mankind. Hitler was a horrible person but has contributed to public speaking just as much as Martin Luther King Junior or Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln isn't as original as most people think, he is great, but the inspiration comes from somewhere. All men who know how to speak have learned or have been inspired, from Presidents to combat leaders.
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