This thesis analyses the performance of ethos in a two-pronged approach. The first part is dedicated to the theoretical reflection of ethos and its historical development since Aristotle. Outstanding examples of conceptual genesis are considered. It is the conceptual as well as the historical outline that then forms a solid basis for the transition to the second part of the thesis in which the practical analysis of a model case of ethical argumentation is made by considering Roman Herzog’s speech in Berlin in 1997 („Ruckrede”).

In this part, the practical meaning of ethos for the process of persuasion in a political speech is depicted in detail based on narratio, argumentatio as well as on the exordium and peroratio. The stylistic side is briefly touched on which does contribute to the character’s credibility. Aristotle however had paid too little attention to this aspect and stylistics is often superficially misunderstood as a mere instruction for ornatus.

A speaker takes part in society via speech and thus his linguistic and non-linguistic ethos interacts with his social surroundings. This interaction must have a moral and ethical basis and orientation so as not to slip into political propaganda. The convergence of linguistic and non-linguistic ethos is an ideal case of rhetorical persuasion.