Consolation of Literature as Rhetorical Tradition: Issues and Examples

Beata Agrell


This article investigates a tradition of consolation in order to explore rhetorical strategies and literary devices of consolatory texts. The aim is to elucidate how the view of consolation has varied through history and the impact of these variations on the motives for and the right to consolation. Issues dealt with are which sufferings that justified consolation, which kind of con- solation that was accepted in an individual case, and which rhetorical means that were considered as appropriate.

At first a theoretical and historical introduction will discuss the concept of consolation, its variants in tradition, and differ- ent states of mind considered in need of consolation. A special discussion concerns the condition of melancholy. Thereafter a few examples of consolatory rhetoric from various genres and historical periods will be analyzed, from Homer to Derrida.

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