A preliminary definition: accismus is a rhetorical device in which the rhetor turns down an offer for something that he/she earnestly desires (usually in order to come off as humble/temperate/etc).
Earlier today, I read the following passage from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which Brutus appeals to the Roman public just after assassinating Caesar. He says
...as I slew my best lover [Caesar] for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
The gullible crowd, of course, cries “Live, Brutus, live, live!” It struck me that this rhetorical strategy is, in some sense, the opposite (or converse) of accismus - rather than turning down something that he wants, Brutus makes an offer that he does not want to be accepted.
Of course, Brutus is the most honorable and sincere character in Julius Caesar, so this tactic may not have been deliberate. However, we can see it in use even in everyday conversation when one person offers something to another person not because they sincerely want them to have it or have that person’s best interests in mind, but because they want to seem generous. For example:
Person A: I’m really upset; my grandmother died this weekend.
Person B: Wow, I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?
Clearly, there’s nothing Person B can do to help, but she’s offering anyways.
My question is this: does anyone know of a common or technical name for a rhetorical device in which one makes an offer that one does not hope or expect will be accepted, in order to reap the social benefits (or boosted ethos) that results from offering?