Rhetoric of counsel in Thomas Elyot's Pasquil the Playne

Arthur Walzer

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7 Scopus citations


Pasquil the Playne, a dialogue written by the English Humanist Thomas Elyot (1490-1546), was inspired by Elyot's unsuccessful experience as a counselor to Henry VIII. Seizing on this biographical context, historians have read the dialogue as a product of Elyot's disillusionment, identifying Elyot with the blunt, truthtelling Pasquil. In contrast this paper reads Pasquil the Playne as a multi-voiced Lucianic dialogue, which gives expression to several perspectives on the rhetoric of counsel. This reading problematizes questions of appropriateness (prepon) and right timing (kairos) in giving advice to a prince. Moreover, Elyot exploits the open-ended spirit of the Lucianic dialogue to attempt to develop in the reader the prudential reasoning (phronesis) essential to wise counsel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalRhetorica - Journal of the History of Rhetoric
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Civic rhetoric
  • Dialogue
  • Elyot
  • Lucian
  • Pasquil the Playne
  • Prince's mirror
  • Prudence


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