The present paper analyzes the rhetorical functions of verbal parallels in selected pre-imperial Qín 秦 (prior to 221 B.C.E.) and early imperial Qín (221–206 B.C.E.) and Western Hàn 漢 (206/202 B.C.E.–9 C.E.) memorials. Following the lead of Richard L. Schultz (The Search for Quotation: Verbal Parallels in the Prophets, 1999), it furnishes evidence that the authors of these petitions and remonstrances, which normally had to be submitted to the throne in writing before they could be orally presented to kings or emperors, employed quotations not only to embellish their statements or to give authority to them but also utilized them as argumentative figures of thought. In the samples under review, citations serve as elementary links in the argumentative chain of the quoting texts and even add a second layer of meaning to them, thus providing access to their argumentative “deep structure”. Moreover, when employed as structural devices, verbal parallels organize the memorials by introducing new argumentative steps not only from the point of view of contents but also formally through being topicalized and embedded into causal clauses and therefore can serve as criteria for dividing these texts into sense-units.
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