Thucydides’ famous discussion of the degeneration of language during stasis (3.82.4–6) employs a hitherto underappreciated meta-topos: the historian draws attention not only to linguistic inversion but to the self-serving abuse of the topos that virtues and vices are being misnamed. Sallust and Tacitus also employ the meta-topos in their treatments of corrupted language, deliberately distinguishing their critiques from a banal rhetorical commonplace. This self-consciousness about a central topos of historiography leads historians to reflect on the topos of corrupted language amid stasis as a paradigm of historical analysis, one which must be reformulated to account for crises such as the last century of the Republic and the institution of the Principate.