Speech-act theory starts from the premise that the minimal unit of spoken communication is not the word or sentence but the production of words or sentences in the performance of certain kinds of acts, such as challenging, entreating, apologising, thanking, or rebuking. Some speech acts may be expressed quite economically, in a few words (for example, ‘I congratulate you’); others require a sequence of sentences or syntactic chunks to achieve their illocutionary function—that is, to fulfil the intention of the speaker. In a recent paper, drawing on two fields of study outside Classics—cognitive psychology and discourse analysis—I examined a single set of speech acts recorded in the Homeric epics: the rebukes which Homer's characters address to one another in the course of the Iliad and the Odyssey. In that paper I demonstrated that all speeches in Homer which we identify as rebukes share a common structure, or format, and that this format is remarkably similar to the format to which we ourselves—in middle-class communities in the Western world—refer when, for example, we chastise a child. And I proposed that this notion of format-based speech may be extended perhaps even to the full range of speech acts observable in this everyday world and in the Homeric epics, of which apologies, challenges, words of consolation, and refusals of invitations are examples.