|Abstract||The conclusion of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel has been a matter for critical discussion from Dr. Johnson's time onward. Among those scholars who believe the poem has a truncated ending are Dr. Johnson, Paul Ramsey, and Hugh Walker. On the other hand, such critics as Arthur Verrall, Earl Miner, and George Wasserman believe David's address represents the only possible ending. Bernard N. Schilling also represents this view: "The king has spoken, what else remains?" This study attempts to show that based on a rhetorical consideration of the three addresses germane to the problem of the poem's conclusion, David's address is the appropriate conclusion for Absalom and Achitophel. Chapter I introduces the problem and reviews some of the critical attitudes toward the poem's conclusion. Chapter II is a detailed rhetorical analysis of Achitophel's two addresses and David's address. David's address is shown to be an example of deliberative discourse appropriate to the occasion, whereas those of Achitophel are shown to be epideictic and not appropriate to the situation. The crucial problem of the successionist-exclusionist issue and its relation to the present and future good of the nation calls for deliberative discourse, but both of Achitophel's addresses are devoted to flattering Absalom and discrediting David. Further consideration reveals that David's appeals from logos and pathos are fused inextricably with his appeal from ethos. Although Achitophel's appeals from logos and pathos are frequently witty and brilliant, there is no appeal from ethos. Chapter III attempts to show how the addresses of David and Achitophel are examples of attitudes which Edward P. J. Corbett describes as "the open hand" and "the closed fist." Achitophel's addresses are seen to be restrictive in nature and ultimately reveal him as a conniver committed to a single course, of which the closed fist is a fitting symbol. David's address, on the other hand, shows him to be a man of intelligence, good moral character, and good will. Because David exhibits these Aristotelian virtues, "the open hand" is seen as an appropriate symbol for him. It is ultimately the sense of ethos which pervades David's speech that counteracts the effects of Achitophel's witty addresses, and confirms David's address as the proper conclusion for the poem. Considered from a rhetorical point of view, the problem of the ending of Absalom and Achitophel seems to be more apparent than real.