Sententia (sen-TEN-chee-uh): Figure of argument in which a wise, witty, or pithy maxim or aphorism is used to sum up the preceding material.


"We are now well into our fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident purpose of putting an end to slavery agitation. However, under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

-- Abraham Lincoln, A House Divided (Re-enactment delivered by Fritz Klein)

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!'"

-- Martin Luther King, Jr., I've Been to the Mountaintop

Note: Sententia from (and allusion to) the famous Battle Hymn of the Republic penned by Julia Ward Howe

"I think that if women aspired higher, took on the problems involved, that they might find surprising support from men. 'Time marches on.'"

-- Betty Friedan, Harvard Law School Forum Address

"There has been this tendency to set aside some of the women, and if they were willing, either to set themselves aside in a religious service, or in some dedicated activity where they didn't act as wives and mothers. Society was willing, then, to accord them quite a few of the privileges that were accorded to men, as if it was being said, implicitly -- but, of course, and sometimes explicitly: 'You can't have everything.'"

-- Margaret Mead

"The lesson we have to learn is that our dislike for certain persons does not give us any right to injure our fellow creatures, however odious they may be. As I see it, the social rule must be: 'Live and let live.'"

-- George Bernard Shaw, BBC Talk on Pacifism

"In this time of nuclear weaponry, we cannot afford to wait for the fight to come to us. You need to understand that. This political correctness stuff is a bunch of crap. This generation is so goddamned spoiled and lazy they wouldn't know a real threat to their freedom until it interrupted the power source to their Xbox and killed a half a million people! The complacency of fools will destroy them."

-- Mike Kaminski as George C. Scott's Patton

"If, in my low moments, in word, deed or attitude, through some error of temper, taste, or tone, I've caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived someone's fears -- that was not my truest self. I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant, doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient: God is not finished with me yet."

-- Jesse Jackson, 1984 Democratic National Convention Address

Roy Batty: Why are you staring at us, Sebastian?

J.F. Sebastian: ''re so different. You're so perfect.

Roy Batty: Yes.

J.F. Sebastian: What generation are you?

Roy Batty: Nexus-6.

J.F. Sebastian: Ah, I knew it -- 'cause I do genetic design work for the Tyrell Corporation. There's some of me in you.

 Roy Batty: "We're no computers, Sabastian. We're physical."

Pris: I think, Sabastian, therefore, I am."

-- delivered by William Sanderson, Rutger Hauer, and Daryl Hannah (from the movie Blade Runner)

Note: Historical reference to famous French Mathematician Rene Descartes' foundational premise concerning his personal existence is also an allusion.

"[It's a] loose ball foul and...Oh, my! [The referee] from 50 feet away from the play called it on Fred Roberts....Now they call "illegal defense" against Boston. So, [the referees] are playing the game of 'I only have eyes for you' dear, and it's all against Boston

-- Boston Celtics announcer, Johnny Most

Note: Sententia from (and allusion to) the popular romantic love song I Only Have Eyes for You

"Our weapons are for show, gentlemen. We don't even have enough rounds for target practice. We're here to create a climate of security, to stabilize a situation -- not to create a permanent solution. Somebody said that, 'Peacekeeping is not a soldier's job, but only a soldier can do it.' When you're a peacekeeper, you're doin' one of the toughest military jobs on earth. But it can be done. [Vouloir, c’est pouvoir]. 'Where there's a will, there's a way.'"

-- delivered by Roy Dupuis (from the movie Shake Hands With The Devil)

Note: Dag Hammarskjöld is widely credited with the quotation -- and the paradox -- on military peacekeeping.

Rhetorical Figures in Sound

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