Parrhesia Examples


When a writer (or narrator or speaker) speaks freely and openly, sharing an opinion with the reader about a subject, it is called parrhesia. This Latin word translates to mean "free speech."

Examples of Parrhesia:

President Eisenhower's Farewell Address, 1961:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Demosthenes, an ancient Greek orator, called attention to his open speech in "On the Embassy":

It is necessary to speak with parrhesia, without holding back at anything without concealing anything.

In the following exchange from the Bible, Jesus talks about speaking plainly (the original text used the word parrhesia) to his disciples:

"In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask theFather for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father".

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