Political Persuasion: An Interactive Quiz

“He that will give good words to thee will flatter beneath abhorring.” — Coriolanus

Leonard C. Haas as Brutus and David Bardeen as Sicinius in Lantern Theater Company’s production of CORIOLANUS. Photo by Mark Garvin.

In Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, a politician’s ability to persuade the populace is crucial to his success. The tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, use rhetoric to sway the masses and to whip them into action. Coriolanus’ speeches rally the troops, but he tends to shame and mock the citizens; only later does Coriolanus incorporate rhetoric in an attempt to humble himself and earn the citizens’ trust. The allegiance of the plebeians bounces back and forth between the factions, and rhetoric is the tool employed to bring them under a politician’s thrall.

Today, the power of persuasion is equally vital. Whether the goal is to build a coalition, get elected, stay in power, or protect one’s legacy, leaders seek to frame their own positions as the best way forward for the majority. In interviews, speeches, and written communications, modern politicians’ success or failure at rallying the population through language can have significant effects on their political future.

Can you identify famous world leaders from their quotes?

Take our quiz to find out who you know, who you don’t, and who you might follow if these words were spoken to you. And when you’re finished, tell us in the comments how you did and which leaders were most persuasive!

Through speeches, writing, and interviews, aspiring or successful political leaders must rally the people they mean to lead. Take this quiz to see if you can identify the world leaders by their quotes. Do you notice any patterns in the rhetoric? What quote most stirs your sense of loyalty?

Join us for Coriolanus at Lantern Theater Company, March 9 — April 16, 2017. Visit our website for tickets and information.

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