Emphasis: A Cognitive Figure in Ancient Rhetoric

“Emphasis” (emphasis]; significatio) is an ancient rhetorical figure that heightens audience participation through strategic ambiguity, polysemy, or otherwise opaque sentence construction. Through careful diction, the writer/speaker directs audience members to a latent meaning, hidden within a seemingly innocuous phrase. Far from mere ornamentation, this figure fundamentally increases persuasive power through narrative engagement, while also providing the writer or speaker plausible deniability.