Quote: “Are we children of a lesser God? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?” Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
Figure of Speech: epiplexis (eh-pih-PLEX-is), the emotional rhetorical question.
Prime Minister Siniora is watching the destruction of his country while diplomats dither. He pleads for help with an epiplexis, a kind of rhetorical question that arouses guilt in an audience. The word comes from the Greek for “to strike upon,” presumably because the orator would smack his chest in a gesture of grief.
Siniora’s comparison of a drop of Lebanese blood with an Israeli teardrop sounds poetic, if a little bizarre. (He fails to mention Hezbollah’s — what — drop of sweat?) The analogy recalls Cicero’s warning against using too much pathos in a speech. “Nothing,” the great Roman said, “dries more quickly than a tear.”
And when tears dry, anger often follows.
Snappy Answer: “Don’t worry. The war in Iraq will bring peace to your region.”