The Full Wiki

Pathos: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pathos (pronounced /ˈpeɪθɒs/; Greek: πάθος, for 'suffering' or 'experience') is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric (where it is considered one of the three modes of persuasion, alongside ethos and logos), and in literature, film and other narrative art. Pathos represents an appeal to the audience's emotions. It is not to be confused with 'bathos' (βάθος), which is an attempt to perform in a serious, dramatic fashion that fails and ends up becoming comedy. Within literature and film, pathetic occurences in a plot are not to be confused with tragic occurences. In a tragedy, the character brings about his or her own demise, whereas those invoking pathos often occur to innocent characters, invoking unmerited grief.

Emotional appeal can be accomplished in a multitude of ways:

  • by a metaphor or story telling, common as a hook,
  • by a general passion in the delivery and an overall number of emotional items in the text of the speech, or in writing.

Pathos is often associated with emotional appeal. But a better equivalent might be appeal to the audience's sympathies and imagination. An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with the writer's point of view - to feel what the writer feels. In this sense, pathos evokes a meaning implicit in the verb 'to suffer' - to feel pain imaginatively. Perhaps the most common way of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the writer are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the reader. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the writer's message moves the audience to decision or action.

Friedrich Schiller: Sublime Pathos

In the many works of Friedrich Schiller, "Sublime Pathos" (German, das Pathetisch-Erhabene) appears as a privileged aesthetic concept. According to Schiller, sublime pathos in the context of art demonstrates human freedom and triumph in the struggle against suffering. As such, pathos no longer refers to suffering itself, but rather an effect produced by overcoming suffering. Generally, Schiller links the experience of suffering to "grand ideas" - such as the idea of freedom; in this sense, pathos reminds one of Milton's Satan, when he cries out: "Hail, horrors, I greet thee!". Schiller's description of pathos continues to influence the use of the word today, in which such triumphant overcoming of suffering and other negative situations is seen as representing pathos. In modern cinema in particular, pathos can be found in many forms, such as in the popular film renditions of the Lord of the Rings:

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship – but it is not this day. This day we fight!“ (Aragorn, in the Return of the King)

See also



Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to pathos article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Ancient Greek πάθος (pathos), suffering).



countable and uncountable; plural pathoses

pathos (countable and uncountable; plural pathoses)

  1. That quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, esp., that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality.
    • 1874, Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd, 1874:
      His voice had a genuine pathos now, and his large brown hands perceptibly trembled.
  2. (rhetoric) A writer's attempt to persuade an audience through appeals involving the use of strong emotions not strictly limited to pity.
  3. (literature) An author's attempt to evoke a feeling of pity or sympathetic sorrow for a character.
  4. (theology)(philosophy) In theology and existentialist ethics following Kierkegaard and Heidegger, a deep and abiding commitment of the heart, as in the notion of "finding your passion" as an important aspect of a fully lived, engaged life.


Related terms


External links

  • pathos in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • pathos in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911


Simple English

Pathos (pronounced /ˈpeɪːθɒs/) (Greek: πάθος) is a form of rhetorics. Qualities of a fictional or nonfiction work that cause feelings of sorrow or pity. Over emotionalism can be the result of too much pathos.

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address