Peroration: The Closing Argument

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

Peroration refers to the conclusion of a speech
Peroration refers to the conclusion of a speech (Image credit: Mihajlo Maricic / EyeEm / Getty Images).


In rhetoric, the peroration is the closing part of an argument, often with a summary and an appeal to pathos. Also called the peroratio or conclusion.

In addition to recapitulating the key points of an argument, the peroration may amplify one or more of these points. In many instances, it's intended to inspire further emotion, motivation, or enthusiasm in listeners,

See Examples and Observations below. Also see:

From the Latin perorare, meaning "to speak extensively" or "to speak at length"

Pronunciation: per-or-RAY-shun

Examples and Observations

  • The peroration is where the orator can really have fun. This is the opportunity to end on a twenty-one-gun salute, to move the audience to tears of pity or howls of rage, to wheel out your grandest figures and highest-sounding words. It can be like watching Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band close a show with 'Born to Run' and belt the final chorus out four times in a row."
    (Sam Leith, Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric From Aristotle to Obama. Basic Books, 2012)
  • Aristotle on the Peroration
    - "The peroration is composed of four things: of getting the hearer favorable to oneself, and ill-disposed towards the adversary; and of amplification and extenuation; and of placing the hearer under the influence of the passions; and of awakening his recollection."
    (Aristotle, On Rhetoric)
    - "The peroration must consist of one of these four things. Inclining the judge to favor yourself, or to disfavor your adversary. For then, when all has been said respecting the cause, is the best season to praise or dispraise the parties.
    "Of amplification or diminution. For when it appears what is good or evil, then is the time to show how great or how little that good or evil is.
    "Or in moving the judge to anger, love, or other passion. For when it is manifest of what kind, and how great the good or evil is, then it will be opportune to excite the judge.
    "Or of repetition, that the judge may remember what has been said. Repetition consisteth in the matter and the manner. For the orator must show that he has performed what he promised in the beginning of his oration, and how: namely, by comparing his arguments one by one with his adversaries, repeating them in the same order they were spoken."
    (Thomas Hobbes, Aristotle; Treatise on Rhetoric, Literally Translated From the Greek, With the Analysis by T. Hobbes, 1681)
  • Quintilian on the Peroration
    "What was to follow, was the peroration, which some have termed the completion, and others the conclusion. There are two species of it, the one comprising the substance of the speech, and the other adapted to excite the feelings.
    "The repetition and summing-up of heads, which is called by . . . some of the Latins enumeration, is intended both to refresh the memory of the judge, to set the whole cause at once before his view, and to enforce such arguments in a body as had produced an insufficient effect in detail. In this part of our speech, what we repeat ought to be repeated as briefly as possible, and we must, as is intimated by the Greek term, run over only the principal heads; for, if we dwell upon them, the result will be, not a recapitulation, but a sort of second speech. What we may think necessary to recapitulate, must be put forward with some emphasis, enlivened by suitable remarks, and varied with different figures, for nothing is more offensive than mere straightforward repetition, as if the speaker distrusted the judge's memory."
    (Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory, 95 AD)
  • Ethan Allen's Peroration in a Speech During the Civil War
    "Go call the roll on Saratoga, Bunker Hill, and Yorktown, that the sheeted dead may rise as witnesses, and tell your legions of the effort to dissolve their Union, and there receive their answer. Mad with frenzy, burning with indignation at the thought, all ablaze for vengeance upon the traitors, such shall be the fury and impetuosity of the onset that all opposition shall be swept away before them, as the pigmy yields to the avalanche that comes tumbling, rumbling, thundering from its Alpine home! Let us gather at the tomb of Washington and invoke his immortal spirit to direct us in the combat. Rising again incarnate from the tomb, in one hand he holds that same old flag, blackened and begrimed with the smoke of a seven years' war, and with the other hand he points us to the foe. Up and at them! Let immortal energy strengthen our arms, and infernal fury thrill us to the soul. One blow--deep, effectual, and forever--one crushing blow upon the rebellion, in the name of God, Washington, and the Republic!"
    (Ethan Allen, peroration of a speech delivered in New York City in 1861)
  • Colin Powell's Peroration in His Address to the U.N. Security Council
    "My colleagues, we have an obligation to our citizens, we have an obligation to this body to see that our resolutions are complied with. We wrote 1441 not in order to go to war, we wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace. We wrote 1441 to give Iraq one last chance. Iraq is not so far taking that one last chance.
    "We must not shrink from whatever is ahead of us. We must not fail in our duty and our responsibility to the citizens of the countries that are represented by this body."
    (Secretary of State Colin Powell, address to U.N. Security Council, February 5, 2003)
  • The Lighter Side of Perorations: The Chewbacca Defense
    "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it: that does not make sense!
    "Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation [approaches and softens], does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests."
    (Animated version of Johnnie Cochran delivering the "Chewbacca Defense" in his closing argument in the South Park episode "Chef Aid")
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Peroration: The Closing Argument." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Nordquist, Richard. (2021, February 16). Peroration: The Closing Argument. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Peroration: The Closing Argument." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 11, 2023).